PM tight-lipped on activation of emergency laws

PM tight-lipped on activation of emergency laws
Reporters attempt to question Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis following Parliament last week (file photo)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis would not indicate today when emergency laws that would give the government wide-sweeping powers for mandatory detention, isolation and curfew, could be activated.

Governor General CA Smith issued a proclamation order for a public state of emergency over the health threat on Tuesday.

Article 29 of the Bahamas Constitution provides for a proclamation of emergency to be in force for 14 days, and extended for up to six months.

The prime minster tabled the governor general’s proclamation order and the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations, 2020, in Parliament today as he presented the government’s plans to win the “war” against the threat of the virus.

Officials have announced two more confirmed cases of the virus in the country – taking the total number of cases to three.

The House of Assembly was suspended until March 30.

After several ministers advised Parliament on what protocols will be implemented to ensure public safety, reporters attempted to engage the prime minister outside the chamber of the House.

As Minnis made his way to the Churchill Building, flanked by his aids and media personal — with the media in pursuit — the prime minister would only say the Cabinet will meet tomorrow.

He did not divulge the Cabinet’s agenda.

When asked when the public could see the emergency regulations come into force, the prime minister simply said: “You will know.”

The Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations, 2020, provides for the detention and mandatory isolation of people suspected or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19, and related screening requirements; requisition of private property and essential services; mandatory curfew; restriction of access to any area; and criminalize the publication of false statements that incite public fear or panic.

Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands was also asked about the enforcement of the emergency regulations tabled.

But he said that decision must come from Cabinet.

Sands however did tell reporters not to expect those orders to be implemented today.

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