Thursday, March 23, 2023


Sands’ Plan To Beat COVID-19 Include Lockdowns Done Right

Former Minister of Health Duane Sands does not support the continuation of the Emergency Order. He reiterated that the Bahamas is underperforming in the fight against COVID-19 when compared to other countries, so the country should enact a few of his recommendations.

Sands said unlike sports which the Bahamas has championed, the Bahamas is behind and losing to COVID-19, because the strategy implemented by the government is ineffective.

“The process that we have engaged in over the 6 to 8 months have not worked. They have not worked, Mr. Speaker. We are underperforming as a nation. We are underperforming to all of our peers in the region–as it relates to cases, 80 percent of the rest of the world, and as it related to deaths, 89% of the rest of the world.”

Why it matters

Parliamentarians met in the House of Assembly on Monday to debate the extension of the state of emergency to November 30. The Bahamas has been under an emergency order since March 18 because of the rapid spread of the deadly virus.

Sands’ Recommendations

  1. Build a modular COVID-19 facility of approximately 100 beds for the concentration of COVID-19 patients
  2. Conduct 1000 antigen and RTPCR tests per day
  3. Publish a plan quickly and educate the public
  4. Implement effective lockdowns, not on-and-off lockdowns
  5. Bring back participatory government
  6. End the role of the competent authority, which opposes participatory government
  7. Promote exercise among the public as a large percentage of Bahamians has non-communicable diseases
  8. Support access to drugs like Remdesivir and herbal medicine
  9. Improve food security
  10. Lift the ban on masks importation

The Big Picture

Because of the rise in COVID-19 cases, the government extended the emergency order many other times. The country has seen a rise in cases since March. On Monday, officials presented nearly 3,000 active cases. Weekend lockdowns with the implementation of a 7 pm curfew Monday through Friday, with the closure of businesses, has become a public debate.

If You Think Minnis Has Given Up on Lockdowns, Think Again

Sunday’s national address by Prime Minister Hubert Minnis seemed to prepare the nation for a possible lockdown.

Dr. Minnis’ speech was littered with notions of “lockdown” with many viewers sitting on their edge of their seats, waiting for him to announce the new measure for New Providence. But it never happened.

Now many are speculating when a lockdown will be implemented by Minnis.

Here’s five things Minnis said that supports a lockdown is looming for the New Providence and Abaco:

  • Minnis highlighted that other countries have returned to lockdown measures to combat virus increases

He said, “Some countries have gone back to targeted lockdowns or more restrictive curfews and other measures needed to address the high number of infections, hospitalizations and, sadly, deaths.”

  • Minnis hinted that lockdown is an international measure used to fight the virus

“If cases rise exponentially and virus spread is out of control, governments often have no choice but to order a lockdown to save lives.

“This has become an international standard and response by most governments around the world, including countries that have generally had a good response to the pandemic.”

  • Minnis praised the sucess of lockdowns in Bimini and Grand Bahama

“Indeed, the targeted and sustained lockdowns in Bimini and most recently, Grand Bahama, were essential in reducing the number of infections on those islands, both of which continue to have low numbers at this time.”

  • Minnis painted a grim picture of COVID-19 in New Providence

“One in every 100 residents of New Providence is now infected with COVID-19.

“Sadly, we are now averaging one death per day and our medical facilities have now reached capacity.”

  • Minnis said PAHO and WHO representative Dr. Esther de Gourville, and Consultant Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis are set to discuss future strategies in a “special meeting” with Cabinet and the Opposition.

“After these various meetings, I will brief the nation on the recommendations of our health experts, especially on the way forward for New Providence and Abaco.”

‘COVID-19 Did Not Wreck Our Wedding Anniversary’

Lamont and Raynita met more than 15 years ago, and this month, the couple is celebrating their union as husband and wife during the coronavirus pandemic.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing
Lamont and Raynita Sweeting in a photo session on their anniversary                      Photo Credit: Nikoan Johnson Photography

The onset of COVID-19 has changed travel protocols, so the couple who usually travel to the United States at every anniversary, is forced to celebrate at home under a national lockdown.

When plans were made to travel to a Family Island to celebrate their union instead, that too was cancelled.

So they celebrated at home. They got dressed, hired a photographer for pictures in their backyard, and sat down for a beautiful dinner.

Lamont, a Bahamian citizen and Raynita, an American national said the lockdown has forced them to rediscover love.

“This lockdown has made us much closer than we already were. We love being in each other’s presence, laughing and having fun.

“We realized that we weren’t spending much time together due to our busy schedules…Sometimes I would have to carry the boys to their basketball games or music performances, while my husband is still working. We didn’t realize until the lockdown, that we were barely spending quality time together,” said Raynita, the mother of two boys.

The Sweetings in their backyard                                                 Photo credit: Nikoan Johnson Photography

While the Sweetings are celebrating love and are enjoying quality time together during the national lockdown, many couples are inquiring about the dissolution of their marriages.

QC Wayne Munroe said he has received numerous phone calls of couples seeking divorce, as he and other attorneys see “a tremendous increase” in cases.

“I tell people that one of the quickest ways to get divorced is to spend too much time with your spouse. The little things that annoy you, you cannot get a break from it. It’s a phenomenon you’re going to see a lot more of,” he said.

But Raynita said marriage relationships are not easy, and couples should make time for each other and themselves.

Lamont offers this advice to couples in lockdown: “Put God first. Always pray together, laugh together, trust each other and be each other’s number one supporter.

“I pray that God will continue to bless our union and that we be an example to many others in these tough times.”

Why PM Minnis Hits Pause on 7-Day Full Lockdown Until Further Notice

The Bahamas is in the midst of a COVID-19 battle, one the country has never experienced.

The deadly virus has tested the government’s ability to balance the economy and health of the nation. Government has made a few unplanned decisions that have rattled public’s confidence in the administration.

The recent 7-day full lockdown with the closure of essential services, is one such decision that has stirred public outrage, which has contributed to a reversal of that order.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis made adjustments to the New Providence 7-day lockdown. Dr. Minnis announced that food stores, water depots, pharmacies, gas stations and hardware stores will open Wednesday 19th, from 6am to 9pm, until further notice. Food wholesalers and manufacturers are also allowed to open.

He said, “After I spoke Monday night, Bahamians from all walks of life raised concerns with me.

“There is broad understanding of the need to lock down New Providence in order to control and slow the spread of COVID-19; however, it is also clear that families and businesses need more time to prepare.

“I hear you. I understand you and know that in many cases we must make adjustments in the short-term to strengthen in the long run,” Dr. Minnis said.

A public stance of disapproval

Tuesday morning began with demonstrators of Operation Sovereign Bahamas, who met at Windsor Park in preparation to march towards Down Town, Nassau, before they were intercepted by law enforcement officers.

The group of nearly 50 protesters condemned the most recent lockdown as many Bahamians did not properly prepare with food items before its immediate implementation.

Members of Parliament stood with constituents

Minister of National Security and MP for Mt. Moriah Marvin Dames swamped with concerns from constituents, promised to address the competent authority concerning their needs.

In a Facebook post, Dames said he read the complaints  from individuals on the recent lockdown and its effects on their households.

“I am aware of how difficult it has been for most Bahamians and their families.

“One thing is true, we are not perfect beings. But the test of a true man or women is to recognize what is best for himself/herself and for those he/ she loves.

“I have noted all of your concerns and will be addressing those most vital concerns with the Competent Authority,” he said.

In addition, MP for Bain and Grant’s Town Travis Robinson said he spoke to the  Dr. Minnis to address his constituents’ “frustrations and disappointments” with the recent lockdown.

“Your basic needs of food and water were on top of my list during my conversation with him.

“I am pleased that he was very receptive of my conversation with him…I am satisfied with the pending outcome,” Robinson said.

Preparation for impending bad weather

Dr. Minnis said  the lockdown could affect Bahamians’ ability to prepare for a weather system approaching the Bahamas on the weekend.

He said on Tuesday, the Department of Meteorology and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) met with Cabinet to brief ministers on a weather system which is on a current path to the Bahamas by Sunday.

“This is to allow residents who were unable to secure sufficient food, medicine and water to access essential items, and to make the necessary preparations as we monitor the weather system,” Dr. Minnis said.

A 10-day weather forecast for New Providence. Nassau Weather Center

Dr. Minnis Announces a ‘Complete Lockdown.’ Here’s What It Means?

The Bahamas has had it shares of lockdowns since the rise in coronavirus cases. But this one is different.

Before, Bahamians had access to essential services like grocery stores and pharmacies, while non-essential services remained closed. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays were allotted for shopping only.

Now, a 7-day complete lockdown is in effect for Grand Bahama and New Providence where COVID-19 cases have taken a toll.

What is a complete lockdown?

A  ‘complete lockdown’ or ‘full lockdown,’ as it is sometimes referred, is the requirement by people to remain at home due to risk of the coronavirus to themselves and others, if they move freely.

All grocery stores, water depots, gas stations and private pharmacies are closed. Only public healthcare,  hospitals and private medical facilities are opened for emergencies.  Businesses and commercial activities will be closed.Construction will be permitted.  International shipping, freight forwarders and domestic freight will be permitted to continue, but goods and supplies must be stored.

Anyone required to be on the streets must contact 311 for permission. Violators will be fined.

Why a complete lockdown?

Health indicators on New Providence show a high number of new cases,  increased hospitalizations and increase in deaths.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said if further restrictive measures are not taken to control and to slow the spread of COVID-19 on New Providence at this time, it will take a long time to bring the virus under control.

Dr. Minnis said, “The sooner we bring the virus under control the shorter the time will be to return to few restrictive measures. Unfortunately, too many people are not taking the current lockdowns and health measures seriously.

“Some people are gathering in groups in their neighborhoods. Some are going out when unnecessary. Some are notfollowing health guidelines when out in public. Some are going out visiting friends and family.”

Dr. Minnis added that some people are engaging in socials and parties, and said the virus is spreading rapidly because of the failure of many people to adhere to life-saving and preventative measures.

What would people do who depend on the food distribution program?

Recipients of the National Food Distribution Task Force will continue to obtain food from the specified distribution program on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, as previously scheduled.

Only one person, per family is required for pickup of food packages.

The Royal Bahamas Police Force will have lists by zones of all the recipients of the programme who have registered, and will check vehicles to ensure that only one representative per household goes to the specific distribution centre.

Would a complete lockdown guarantee lowered virus cases?

A complete lockdown will allow health officials to evaluate and monitor the spread of COVID-19 on New Providence, and will assist with slowing the spread of the virus.

At the end of the lockdown period, which is August 25th, officials will assess the data to help inform the way forward, and will report on the impact of the lockdown.

‘Weekend Lockdowns Not For Hotel Staycation’

The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation says hotels and resorts should not allow international guests nor Bahamian residents on property without negative COVID-19 test results.

The ministry says it is aware of special offers and packages being offered by hotels for Bahamian residents during weekend lockdown periods.

The Ministry says this should not be as weekend lockdowns are designed to curb further spread of the virus.

“All residents with the exception of essential workers are required to remain in their place of residence for the duration of the lockdown period unless for the purpose of seeking emergency medical care or securing groceries, gas, pharmaceuticals or water,” the statement says.

Why the Government Made an Exemption for Private Jet Arrivals From the U.S

While the government has restricted commercial flights from the United States from entering the country, the Bahamas remains open to private jets from our northern neighbour who provides the biggest tourism market for the country.

Passengers aboard private air crafts spend an average of $1,500 per person, which means one private jet gives as much revenue into the economy as 50 people arriving in the country on a commercial flight.

Like the Bahamas, Thialand is attracting private jet arrivals. Thailand said it would allow private jet travelers to visit without quarantine restrictions.

A recent analysis says flying privately reduces risk to the virus as business aviation employees on the front line interact with fewer passengers.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said although there is an exception for private jet arrivals, it comes with several requirements:

  • A valid negative COVID-19 test  from an accredited lab. The Bahamas currently does not accept Rapid Antigen or Antibody (IgG/IgM).
  • The test must have been taken within 10 days of your arrival date.
  • The passenger needs to apply for a Travel Health Visa and upload your test.

Exemptions for American visitors include children under 10 years old and the flight crew, if they will be in the country for less than 24 hours.