Prime Minister Minnis - Remarks - COVID-19 Update Press Conference

Press Conference Notes
The Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis
Prime Minister
28 October 2020
Nassau, Bahamas

 

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press:
 
Thank you Dr. Dahl-Regis for your update and for your ongoing service, along with the service of everyone on the frontline of the pandemic.
 
This afternoon, I wish to address the country and the media on our ongoing and comprehensive measures to continue to aggressively respond to this terrible virus, after which we will take questions from the press.
 

This pandemic is exhausting and costly, physically, spiritually, emotionally and economically.

 
We continue to lose some of our fellow citizens to the virus.

I again offer the country’s condolences and my personal condolences to those who have lost loved ones.

 
Let us continue to pray for those who are ill and who are recovering.

The major slowdown in global travel continues to devastate our tourism-based economy.

 
We all want to be back to our normal lives. But with this desire we must be reasonable and discerning.
 
We are working daily to try to balance the health, economic and social needs of our people throughout our archipelago.
 
The pandemic is far from over. Sadly, the northern hemisphere is likely heading into the worst period of the pandemic.
 
With fall already here and winter coming, colder countries face a very challenging winter.
 
More individuals will be indoors in these places.
 
The virus spreads easier indoors where there is poor ventilation.

COVID-19 cases are soaring in countries around the world, including in the Americas.

Experts are saying that the next few months will be a “dark winter.”
In fact, the global COVID-19 public health emergency is worsening around the world.
By example, quite a number of European countries that were doing generally well and better over the summer, are now heading into a difficult and painful winter.
There will be many more hospitalizations and deaths in a number of European nations.

 
Let me say to the Bahamian people: Do not be misguided by those who engage in magical thinking.
 
They want to wish the virus away or think there is some simple solution to the complex challenges it causes.
 
Let me be very clear: All indications are that the pandemic will be with us well into next year.

We must incorporate the public health message of physical distancing, avoiding mass gatherings, mask wearing, and regular hand washing or sanitizing into our everyday lives.

 
We must also get used to the cycles of tightening and loosening restrictions.

Until there is an effective vaccine and the overwhelming majority of Bahamians are vaccinated, we will have cycles where cases go up and cases go down.
This will occur because the virus spreads easily, especially when we do not wear masks or go to social events, including family gatherings, where the virus may quickly and easily spread.

 
When cases go up on a particular island, we will have to increase restrictions if necessary.
 
But if cases are low on other islands, they will remain open, with less restrictions.

Restrictions are not a punishment for the island with a problem.

 
The restrictions are a public health tool to promote more physical distancing, which can save lives.
 
When cases are high, maintaining safe distances helps to reduce the spread of the virus.
 
It is important that we understand that these cycles of tightening and loosening of restrictions are part of life in the pandemic.
 
If cases spike and no restrictions are put in place the virus will run wild and infect and kill more people.
 
Countries around the world are going through their own similar cycles.

In fact, some jurisdictions in Europe are currently imposing more aggressive restrictions than we have in The Bahamas.

Some of them are going as far as multi-week lockdowns and stricter curfews.

 
Ladies and Gentlemen:
 
Given the current situation throughout the country, the Cabinet has agreed to the following measures after consultation with our health officials.

Effective Friday, the 30th of October, an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. weekday curfew will apply to New Providence, Abaco, and to Grand Bahama.

 
We want to, as quickly as possible, address any community spread on Grand Bahama. On Grand Bahama, weddings will now be limited to 10, not including the officiant. Also, on Grand Bahama, funerals will now be limited to 10, at the graveside only, not including the officiant and mortuary workers.

Due to the increase in COVID-19 related activity on Eleuthera, Spanish Wells and Harbour Island, the Ministry of Health will dispatch an emergency team to assess the situation, as was done previously on Bimini. Following this assessment, a determination will be made on what specific measures may be needed for Eleuthera, Spanish Wells and Harbour Island. On Abaco, food stores may now open on Saturday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. All beaches and parks on New Providence and Abaco may open effective Monday, 2 November. Groups are limited to 5 individuals and the COVID-19 Enforcement Unit will heavily monitor beaches and parks.

For the construction industry, companies on islands under 24-hour weekend curfew may apply to the Competent Authority for permission to operate over the weekend. Effective Saturday, October 31, exercise is permitted in one’s immediate neighborhood on Saturdays and Sundays, from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. on New Providence and Abaco. Before November 1st, tourism officials will provide a further update as it relates to the reopening of tourism, including information on the operation of restaurants and tourist-related activity.

Health officials will evaluate the rate of transmission two weeks following the re-opening on the 1st of November to further guide our response.

 
Let me be very clear: A negative RT-PCR test for COVID-19 is required for all individuals entering The Bahamas, including Bahamians and legal residents, regardless of the amount of time an individual has been abroad.
 
I wish to remind Bahamians and residents that you should have suffient funds to cover the cost of the necessary test and any other COVID-19 related or medical expenses that may arise during your travel abroad. Let me reiterate that the 24-hour weekend curfews remain for New Providence and Abaco.

 

Other measures outlined in the No. 8 Emergency Orders for New Providence and Abaco also remain in place, with the exception of the re-opening of beaches on those islands, and the operation of food stores on Saturday on Abaco.
 

We continue to advance a range of measures in our fight against COVID-19.

 
I thank those who have led and have been involved in our aggressive contact tracing program. This includes, more recently, pilots and flight attendants from Bahamasair and our corporate partners, including BTC, Aliv and PriceWaterhouse, and those who have donated equipment and other resources to the command center ...to continue CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO .