STILL NOT OVER: Emergency powers order to be extended yet again amid COVID surge

STILL NOT OVER: Emergency powers order to be extended yet again amid COVID surge

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government is expected to table a resolution in Parliament on Tuesday to extend the current COVID-19 Emergency Orders past the August 13 expiration date, amidst a significant spike of COVID-19 cases in the country.

The House of Assembly issued a notice for the reconvening of Parliament yesterday, indicating that the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the country required the Lower Chamber to meet on an earlier date than it was adjourned to, in order to determine the extension of the COVID-19 emergency powers order.

Parliament had been adjourned to September 22 following the passage of the 2021/2022 fiscal budget. However, the current state of emergency and emergency orders were expected to end on August 13.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis delivers a national address on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.

The government had previously advised it would allow the order to lapse depending on the COVID-19 situation in the country.

Prime Minister Dr Humber Minnis is expected to address the country in a national address tonight to inform Bahamians of his administration’s plans related to the current COVID-19 emergency orders and the country’s future transition to a new legislative approach.

A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister noted that he is also expected to give an update on additional vaccine supplies.

“The Bahamian economy has shown remarkable growth in recent months. Bahamians are getting back to work,” it read.

“The prime minister wants to protect our economic growth and job creation, ensuring Bahamian businesses can operate responsibly while also protecting public health.”

Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday lashed the Minnis administration after news broke of the matter, accusing the prime minister of “failing to protect Bahamians”.

“The tragedy is that Minnis has failed to plan ahead and failed to prepare the country for the fast-spreading delta variant,” Davis said.

Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis.

“He has failed to procure sufficient vaccines, failed to expand testing to stay ahead of outbreaks, failed to use contact tracing effectively, failed to retain nurses, failed to consult with or respect local medical professionals, failed to implement a public education campaign, failed to improve public health capacity, failed to provide high-quality masks and failed to improve ventilation.

“These failures have meant illness and heartbreak for too many Bahamian families and have left The Bahamas with one of the worst COVID performances in the region.”

There were 118 new COVID-19 cases confirmed on Friday, taking the number of cases in the country to 15,537, with 2,295 active cases.

Health officials also confirmed nine COVID-related deaths between July 20 and August 3, bringing the number of COVID deaths in the country to 304, with another 35 under investigation.

Both the House of Assembly and the Senate will meet on Tuesday to table the resolution to extend the existing emergency powers orders and both will convene the following day to debate and pass the resolution.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.