NASSAU, BAHAMAS — St Annes MP Brent Symonette said yesterday that he believes an extension of the public state of emergency is necessary to facilitate restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19.
However, Symonette maintained the administration of the emergency orders could be made more palatable to the Bahamian people.
While it remains to be seen if the competent authority will seek parliamentary approval to extend the emergency orders, approval is hinged on both Houses of Parliament debating a passing the resolution.
The existing emergency orders will come to an end on October 31.
“I am not aware of any other judicial means by which the government of The Bahamas can move expeditiously to try and lockdown COVID other than emergency powers,” Symonette told Eyewitness News.
“So, I think the prime minister, unless he is going to table some new laws, he’s stuck with what’s on the statute book and will have to extend the emergency powers beyond October 30.”
Asked if he supports such an extension, the St Annes MP said: “I would say it has to come. Now, whether I support it; whether the public supports it, I think we have to separate the ability to fight COVID — for instance, using emergency powers, and our like or dislike for the process.
“I think a lot of people dislike the process. I don’t know of an alternative to fight the issue, so that’s the dilemna we’re in.”
According to Symonette, relaxing restrictions such as granting beach access during select periods has not enabled a flattening of the curve, and “more drastic measures are going to be taken”.
The government reimposed restrictions in New Providence and Abaco on October 9 amid a rising surge of cases of those islands.
“The question is, is that working?” Symonette asked.
“In other countries, you have seen an imposition of fairly strong restrictions having had a more liberalized environment.
“That’s the dilemma the government faces.
A soft tourism opening was set for October 1 with new travel measures expected to be implemented on November 1, including the removal of travel quarantine.
Symonette said the government has to balance that reopening with the current level of COVID-19.