After heavy criticism was levied at the government over a destination wedding in Harbour Island, Eleuthera during the weekend lock down, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar expressed regret, as the decision to host the wedding went through him.
D’Aguilar apologized outside of Cabinet on Tuesday, as some Bahamians were forced to postpone their wedding ceremonies because of the immediate weekend lock down.
He said although he confirmed the request for the destination wedding to be held, the ultimate decision was made by Prime Minister Hubert Minnis.
D’Aguilar said the government should have clarified that the public can seek permission from the competent authority to continue their event.
He summed it up as a lesson learnt for the government, but some social media users have called for his resignation.
Other users questioned whether Bahamians requested permission of the competent authority, before postponing their special event.
Dr. Minnis said on Sunday that he gave permission for two weddings of more than 5 in attendance, providing that attendees adhere to the COVID-19 protocols.
Dr. Minnis announced a lock down on Friday evening, giving permission for weddings and funerals, but stipulating that not more than five people were allowed, including the officiant.
A destination wedding held over the weekend in Harbour Island Eleuthera, during the national lock down, received heavy criticism from Bahamians who questioned government’s treatment of foreigners over Bahamian nationals.
A video of the wedding circulated social media on Sunday, showing a foreign bride and groom celebrating their union with guests in attendance of more than five, which goes against stipulations of weddings in the new order announced on Friday by Prime Minister Hubert Minnis.
Dr. Minnis announced an immediate lock down on Friday night at 10 pm, stating among other measures that, “weddings that were planned for this weekend will also be permitted with a maximum number of five people including the officiant.”
After the video circulated social media showing a large gathering of people celebrating the destination wedding, Bahamians took to social media questioning the allowance of a wedding for foreigners who were not adhering to the COVID-19 protocols, as guests were seen without masks and dancing in close proximity to each other.
Many Bahamian couples postponed their weddings this weekend because of the limitation in the maximum number of people able to attend weddings.
Some posters on Shenique Miller-The Conversation Facebook page, pointed out that laws in the Bahamas are applied differently to nationals and foreigners.
Je Miller said it was “a shame,” saying that her friend had to rush his wedding on Friday because of the new lock down.
Lakeisha Strachan said, it was not a “surprise” as “we all know the power of the mighty dollar in this country.”
While Valentino Kemp said, “Tourists can break all the rules and not feel and pressure. Meanwhile Bahamians [are] getting locked up for not wearing mask in their car…”
Denette Miller expressed understanding for the foreign couple and the prime minister, saying that Dr. Minnis closed the country abruptly and “it was unfair to all persons who had plans on Saturday.” She added that citizens should not expect the prime minister and law enforcement officers to “babysit everyone.”
Marvin Rahming said as the country locks down to prevent spread of the virus, the economy needs a boost. He said, “The economy is already dead. The only thing we have here is tourism…the show has to go on.”
The outrage comes after charges against three American tourists were dismissed in the Magistrates Court two weeks ago, after telling the court that they jumped a fence to gain access to closed Cabbage beach, after a police in “brown uniform” gave them permission.
Beaches were closed during the Independence holiday to prevent gatherings. And since Friday’s announcement, beaches remain closed.