NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government could be exposing itself to potential lawsuits for failing to adequately justify the reasoning behind the continued closure of several sectors as well as islands which to-date have no recorded cases of COVID-19 a well-known QC has asserted.
QC Wayne Munroe told Eyewitness News that the government’s actions regarding the reopening of the economy lacks cogency and consistency, this as it moved to allow law firms to now reopen between the hours of 9am to 1pm.
Still, Munroe questioned the justification of the time period.
“Why only open half a day? If my staff comes in at 9 am and one of them has COVID-19 they will spread it between 9am as opposed to 1pm-5 pm. What is the justification for a half day? There is no rationale,” said Munroe, who also warned that many junior attorneys just getting into the legal profession could see their careers seriously damaged.
As public debate persists over the government’s rationale for keeping some islands closed, Munroe suggested that “lawsuits could be coming”. While offering an explanation of his decision to allow commercial activity to resume on some family islands while islands such as Exuma and Eleuthera remain closed, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said on Wednesday that he wants to ensure that authorities have the capacity to manage any potential outbreak of COVID-19.
Exuma and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper in a statement said he was “wholly dissatisfied” with the prime minister’s apparent rationale for keeping commercial activity on Exuma closed.
“In a television interview last night, the prime minister expressed that he was operating on the assumption that people possibly infected with COVID-19 had entered Exuma since the 24-hour curfew measures were implemented. Where is the evidence of this on Exuma? And where is the evidence of this not happening on the islands that have been allowed to resume commercial activity?” questioned Cooper.
Cooper argued that, “With no cases or suspected cases on all but three islands and one cay thus far, there does not seem to be any logical reason to keep the economies of the remaining Family Islands closed. Claiming that there is a threat of being overwhelmed by cases in one population that has had no cases, but not in another similar-sized population that has had no cases whose borders also remained closed, makes no sense at all.
Cooper contented that the prime minister is abusing the power given to him and that he would not support any extension of the emergency powers given to the competent authority without a clearly articulated exit strategy for how the country will emerge from this state of emergency.
Munroe told Eyewitness News, “Every day a business remains closed, that business is being damaged, the economy is being damaged and person’s employee records are being damaged. There is just no logic or perceivable medical explanation for it. Lawsuits could be coming. There is an action I hope to file where the first declaration I seek is that the emergency orders are void ab inito.”
Munroe further asserted that even if the court determines that the regulations are valid, where there is no explanation for the imposition of hardship on certain sectors and where businesses have been adversely impacted, they can seek a declaration that the action isn’t justifiable and seek damages.