competentauthority

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

competentauthority

Cat Island, South and Central Andros Under 14-day Lockdown. Here’s Why

Cat Island and South and Central Andros are preparing for the full implementation of a 14-day lockdown on Monday night at 8pm, as announced by Prime Minister Hubert Minnis on Sunday.

Why it matters

These islands are experiencing a significant uptick in COVID-19 cases according to health officials, where health teams are presently trying to manage the recent outbreaks and conduct contact tracing.

On Andros, nine new cases were reported in a single day

On Cat Island there are 33 active cases of the COVID-19 virus. 109 residents are in quarantine.

Seven of 13 people under investigation, tested positive on Sunday. The island has a positivity rate of 58 per cent. Seven persons were airlifted to New Providence for urgent medical care, and 6 people remain hospitalized.

The big picture

This follows the 14-day lockdown of Bullocks Harbour and Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands which was placed under a 14-day lockdown which began Saturday, to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus in those communities.

The cases in the Berry Island were believed to be originated from a recent church event.

Minnis said on Sunday that the country “must contain the spread of this virus on Bullocks Harbour and Great Harbour Cay, where there are 24 active cases of the COVID-19 virus.”

The Details

  • Travel, to and from Cat Island, and North and Central Andros, is prohibited during the lockdown, except for essential workers (Royal Bahamas Police Force, Royal Bahamas Defence Force, healthcare professionals, Bahamas Power and Light technical personnel), mailboat and Seacorp operators, and commercial bank personnel, or as, otherwise approved by the Competent Authority.
  • There will be no in-person activities permitted, including no burials held. Every agency, business or establishment, shall remain closed, except for the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Government Community Clinics, and COVID-19 vaccination sites.
  • No individual, other than an essential worker, shall leave his or her place of residence, for any purpose other than, for  the purpose of seeking urgent medical attention, to go to a vaccination site, or on prescribed days, to purchase food, water and other essential items.
  • Food store owners, will be allowed to restock their stores, after the arrival of the  mailboat, and the Seacorp. Food stores, may be opened for two days, between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. after the mailboat has arrived. Residents may leave their homes, to go to the food store during the two days, immediately following the arrival of the mailboat only.
  • Farmers are permitted to water their crops, between the hours of 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. Subsistence fishing is permitted.
  • The respective commercial banks, may reload their Automated Banking Machines. Gas stations, may open on Fridays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for government agencies only. Customs and Immigration, will be able to fulfil their duties as needed. Security guard services, will be permitted.
  • Hotel workers carrying identification, will be permitted to traverse, to and from their places of employment.
  • Harvesting of crabs during the lockdown period, is permitted from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Featured Picture: BIS–Prime Minister Hubert Minnis and Health Advisor Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis at Sunday’s press conference.

Govt Seeks Extension of Emergency Order for Another Three Months

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis tabled a resolution of the Emergency Order in the House of Assembly today, seeking an extension to August 13.

But he expressed hope that the extra three months may not be all necessary.

Why it matters

The Emergency Order was due to end May 23, but on Friday, Governor General C.A. Smith issued another proclamation for a state of emergency.

This means the competent authority has another six months to execute his emergency powers.

What Minnis says

“It is our hope that we would not need the three months.

“It is our hope that with vaccinations aggressively and progressively moving throughout the world and continuing in the Bahamas, and with the cooperation with our populace following the mitigation protocols for the pandemic, that we would see a turn.

“Once that commences, we would love to remove all emergency power orders so that individuals can turn back to their normal life following the new protocols and world standards as quickly as possible.

“Once we see the turn, we would be more than happy to remove the emergency order,” Minnis said.

 

Moultrie in Spat With Davis Denies Reports of Minnis Acting Like a ‘Demigod’

House Speaker Halson Moultrie  said the media reports that he referenced the competent authority as a “demigod,” is “false.”

Moultrie’s comments came in the House of Assembly on Thursday during the debate on the extension of the emergency order to January 31.

Opposition Leader Philip Davis while arguing against the renewed emergency order, said it gave the impression that Prime Minister Hubert Minnis was someone of divine status.

Davis said, “There is a view emerging that the member (competent authority) might be a demigod.”

The issue is, the label “demigod” was attributed to Moultrie as reporters spoke to him on the sideline of a constiutency event. Moultrie then called for the autonomy of Parliament, which he believes is held hostage by Cabinet.

He told reporters at the time, “We have developed situations where the leader or the prime minister in these jurisdictions can function like a demigod–like a person who is maximum leader, a person who could dictate.”

When PLP Leader Philip Davis used the term to describe Minnis in the House, Moultrie then presumed that Davis was underhandedly using the words attributed to him as quoted in the newspaper, to describe the competent authority.

Moultrie said, “You are sliding down a slippery slope. It is clear what the honorable member for Cat Island and San Salvador is attempting to do. And what you are attempting to do, you are trying to attribute something to a member in this parliament (Moultrie himself) that was falsely reported in the newspaper. And so I would advise you to…

Davis then interrupted and said, “I said emerging. I never attributed that comment to anyone. I didn’t ask. I said a view is emerging that the member may be a demigod. I attributed that to no one.”

“If you feel as if I’m talking about what you have been saying, that’s not it.”

Many Bahamians have expressed issue with the competent authority as they say he is operating without the consent of the Cabinet and solely by his own authority.

How Minnis Intended 2-Month Emergency Order Extension, But Seems to Have Changed Mind

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis wanted to extend the emergency order by two months when the proclamation expires on November 30th.

CSJ Report understands that Minnis as the competent authority intended to continue the state of emergency order to January, but faced opposition from a few Cabinet ministers.

When Minnis presented the fixed plan to ministers, he expected them to come in agreement but an outspoken minister told him he could not consent.

Why it matters

The emergency order expires on November 30th, after the country was placed under nearly eight months of the emergency order. Minnis gave notice in the House of Assembly on Wednesday that once the order expires this month, he intends to extend the order to December 28th, an indication that he had changed his mind.

The big picture

As COVID-19 cases rose in the country, Governor-General C.A Smith declared a state of emergency in March. The order was initially set to expire on June 29.

Attorney General Carl Bethel said the proclamations “ensure public health.”

The order faces opposition

  • Attorney Wayne Munroe is a known opposer of the emergency order, threatening to file a lawsuit against the government.
  • Attorney Damien Gomez says he will join that lawsuit if the emergency order is extended beyond January.
    • He says, “My view of it is, firstly, you should only use states of emergency sparingly. Doing it repeatedly undermines the perception of the country as a country governed by laws and freedoms.”

It Gets Worse in Exuma and Eleuthera

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis addressed the House of Assembly on Wednesday morning, bearing bad news. He said Exuma and Eleuthera’s COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing.

As of yesterday, Tuesday 17th,  there were a total of 99 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Exuma, and on Eleuthera, a total of 143 confirmed cases.

Why it matters

  • The competent authority in recent weeks announced restrictive measures for mainland Exuma, and mainland Eleuthera, due to exponential increases in new cases of COVID-19 on those islands.

What’s happening?

  • Health officials report that from the analysis of the map of cases, the spread is occurring throughout Exuma.
  • From interviews conducted in the community by the health team, some people are still having gatherings, and residents believe this is largely contributing to the spread of COVID-19 on Exuma.
  • A team from the Ministry of Health made up of members of the contact tracing team and the surveillance unit is currently in Exuma to assess the COVID-19 situation.
  • A health team is scheduled to return to Eleuthera next week to complete a follow-up assessment and to determine the impact of the recently imposed restrictive measures on that island.

Minnis Imposes Strict Measures for Exuma Too

Exuma’s COVID-19 cases are spiking, and like Eleuthera, restricted measures will be imposed to contain the spread of the infectious virus, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced on Wednesday night.

Why it matters

Thirty new cases of the virus were recorded for the week. As of November 10th, 79 total cases were recorded for the island, 29 are active cases, 2 individuals are hospitalized and one death was recorded due to COVID-19.

What are the new measures for the island?

The cays are excluded.

  • The 24-hour weekend curfew will be implemented beginning Friday 13th from 6 pm to 5 am.
  • During the weekend lockdown, businesses will be closed.
  • Weekday curfew is 6 pm to 5 am beginning Thursday 12th.
  • Businesses are permitted to open during the weekday, but Fishfry, bars, and restaurants connected to bars are not allowed to operate.
  • Domestic travel is prohibited in and out of Exuma.
  • A negative PCR test is required if an individual must travel from Exuma.
  • Grave-side funerals are permitted, only with a limited number of 10 people, excluding the officiant.
  • Weddings are limited to 10 people, excluding the officiant.
  • Repass and receptions are forbidden.
  • Churches can hold virtual services.
  • 10 people allowed in-person church services.
  • No in-person class sessions.

What PM Minnis said

  • Dr. Minnis said the data show that the situation in Exuma needs urgent action, thus officials have increased the nursing team on the island. A team will visit the island to further assess the situation.
  • He said the measures are short notice but they are essential to curtailing the spread on that island

 

Ministry of Tourism Back-Pedals On Negative COVID-19 Test Result for Bahamian Guests at Hotels

The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation is walking back a negative COVID-19 test requirement for Bahamians on hotel property, which has garnered criticism from the public.

The ministry says, “Following consultation with the Ministry of Health, the Competent Authority (who is Prime Minister Hubert Minnis) has affirmed that a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test will not be required by Bahamian and resident guests of hotels.”

Just yesterday, a press release from the ministry said hotels and resorts should not allow international guests nor Bahamian residents on property without negative COVID-19 test results, as the ministry said it was aware of special offers and packages being offered by hotels for Bahamian residents during the weekend lockdown periods.

Now today, the ministry says it has recommended, and the Competent Authority has agreed to, two provisions:

1. The Public Health measures that the Ministry of Health has put in place for the protection of the public, inclusive of mask wearing, social distancing and sanitization protocols, be strictly adhered to. These are detailed in the Emergency Powers Orders, on the Ministry of Health’s website and in the manual created by the Ministry of Tourism and approved by the Ministry Health for the reopening of our tourism industry.

2. Indoor dining is to be closed.

The ministry says the Royal Bahamas Police Force will be particularly vigilant in its surveillance of hotel properties to ensure compliance and warned that properties will be fined and/or closed per the Orders if they are found to be in violation.

 

Davis Calls Govt ‘Heartless’ As Over 11,000 BPL Customers Face Disconnection

Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip Davis says the government is fast becoming “heartless, clueless and insensitive” after the government-owned energy plant, Bahamas Power and Light, announced that nearly 90 percent of its customers face disconnection as the corporation face rising debt.

Davis says, “On the face of it, this policy seems heartless in light of what appears to be a complete pause if not collapse of the local economy.”

Davis says thousands of Bahamians are without  jobs as retail and service industries remain closed, which he believes could have been opened by the competent authority, adding that the government must accept some responsibility for the economic consequences of its Emergency Orders and not penalize Bahamians.

“The hardship suffered by Bahamians is due to government incompetence and Bahamians should not have to pay for this,” Davis says.

The corporation which has a $46 million debt and has threatened disconnection of 12,4461 residents and commercial customers, says only 1,311 households and businesses have settled their arrears with the corporation.

Chairman of BPL Dr. Donovan Moxey said the the corporation has to pay its own bill and it cannot permit customers to incur debt they may never be able to repay.

“It makes no sense to put customers deeper in debt. We want to understand the customer’s situation and work with them. It makes no sense for anybody to keep on increasing the bill without having some payment arrangement on it.”

Moxey said the corporation wants to work with customers, and hope they come in to take advantage of the payment plans, as the corporation recognizes the tough times.