Prime Minister Minnis - National Address, May 17, 2020

NATIONAL ADDRESS

The Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis Prime Minister

17 May 2020

 

 

Fellow Bahamians and Residents: Good afternoon.

We are continuing to make progress in containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Because we acted quickly and decisively as a country and used a broad range of measures, we have been able to limit the spread of the deadly virus.

To date, there remain 96 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas. This includes 74 in New Providence, 8 in Grand Bahama, 13 in Bimini and 1 in Cat Cay.

The Ministry of Health reported no additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 today. It has been four days since a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been reported.

The number of recovered cases is at 42. Active cases are at 43. There are 7 hospitalized cases.

The number of COVID-19 related deaths remain at 11. One thousand eight-hundred
and fourteen (1,814) tests have been completed.

But we must continue to remain vigilant in order to secure our progress and to limit community spread.

As a small country we cannot allow our health system to be overwhelmed.

We must continue to practice physical distancing, wearing face masks and washing our hands often and thoroughly.

We must also continue aggressive contact tracing, quarantines and various curfew and lockdown measures.
 

Fellow Bahamians and Residents:
 

As we continue to make progress, we will act on the advice of health officials on the phased and gradual reopening of various islands and certain areas of our economy, as well as a new normal for daily life that will be with us for some time.

We must abide by regional and global health protocols as we reopen our economy and society.

I again note, if advised by health officials, we will return to certain phases or re-impose certain restrictions in order to limit community spread.

I fully understand the anxiety and frustration of many Bahamians and residents
to reopen our economy.

But we must act with prudence and good judgement.

We have to balance the health, economic and social needs of citizens and residents.

As you know, we are still in Phase 1B of the national reopening plan, but we have started to introduce components of Phase 2 as the country fully transitions into the second phase of the plan.

I am pleased to announce that Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros will now be able to resume commercial activity effective Monday, May 18th.

Let me reemphasize to all of the Family Islands that are able to resume commercial activity that weekday curfews and weekend lockdown measures still remain in place, as do physical distancing measures and the requirement to wear masks.

Fellow Bahamians and Residents:

We all are eager to see our economy open up fully to travel for Bahamians and to welcome visitors back to our shores.

The Government is well advanced in our planning for the beginning of the re-opening of our tourism sector and to allow for travel in and out of the Bahamas.

Our resorts, our airports and our seaports are finalizing the health and safety protocols that will be necessary for us to provide for a re-opening.

Taking into account what is being done within the region and around the world, these extensive guidelines will be designed to provide for reasonable assurance that travel and leisure are generally safe.

Any such re-opening to commercial- scale traffic will also be dependent on the ongoing stabilization of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Bahamas.

It will also only be applied to those islands where the outbreak has been contained.

As of now, we are looking at a possible opening date for commercial travel on or before July 1st.

These dates may change depending on the circumstances.

I want to repeat however that this date is not final.

It will be adjusted if we see a deterioration in the COVID-19 infection trends or if we determine that the protocols and procedures are not in place sufficiently to warrant an opening.

Our opening will depend on your cooperation.

I also wish to note that construction companies on New Providence and Grand Bahama may now operate on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

To facilitate hurricane preparedness, home and hardware stores will now be allowed to operate in-store hours on Mondays, 8am to 8pm.

This is in addition to the Wednesday and Friday in-store hours that home and hardware stores are currently allowed to operate.

The operating hours also apply to manufacturers of hurricane-proof windows and other hurricane-related products.

Curbside and delivery services may continue as previously outlined in Phase 1B.

Pharmacies may now operate from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday for the general public, and Saturday 9am to 5pm for essential workers only.

Also, exercise measures have been further relaxed during the weekend lockdowns.

Exercise may now take place on Saturday and Sunday from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. mmediate neighbourhood.

On those Family Islands allowed to resume commercial activity, residents will be allowed to catch crabs for themselves and for sale during the evenings of weekday curfew and weekend lockdowns.

As a reminder, those islands include: Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco, Andros,

Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, Rum Cay and Ragged Island.

Fellow Bahamians and Residents:

 
The Government is about to begin a gradual re-opening of inter-island travel. The Ministry of Health has developed a policy and protocol for the approval and monitoring of individuals traveling to islands that have resumed normal commercial
activity.

This policy and protocol will require individuals to register with the Ministry of Health by emailing covid19travel@bahamas.gov.bs.

Individuals must also submit to an evaluation by a Ministry of Health-authorized physician, in the public or private sector. ...