Government Drops the State of Emergency for the 1st Time in 18 Months. What It Means for You

The state of emergency was fully dropped as of 12 am Saturday following 18 months of curfews.

The curfews were implemented by the former Minnis-led administration in March 2020 to restrict movement and business operations as the COVID19 cases spiraled and the healthcare system became overwhelmed with patients.

Businesses were also forced to reduce business hours to accommodate the curfews and occasional lockdowns.

Countries around the world used similar methods to assist in combating the infectious disease.

What does it mean?

This now means that Bahamians are free to travel in and around the country at any time without impediment.

However, they must continue to follow the protocols like being socially distant, wearing mask and sanitizing.

Parties and social events are limited to 20 people who are fully vaccinated for indoor events and vaccinated or negative COVID19 test for outdoor events.

Restaurants maximum seating is 50 percent for fully vaccinated or negative COVID19 testing for patrons.

Weddings and funerals are limited to 33 percent.

There has been a steady fall in cases and on Friday the Center for Disease Control lowered the country’s COVID level to 3.

Anyone convicted of breaking the rules can be fined not exceeding $1000 or a term in prison not more than 1 year or both.

What the new health minister says

Minister of Health and Wellness Michael Darville said the country was under a state of emergency for too long and it needed to be lifted. Darville said he was not convinced the curfew played a significant role in reducing COVID-19 spread.

He expects that Bahamians will be disciplined as the country fully reopens.

Photo credit: Tribune

The Emergency Order Was Amended. Is There Still A Competent Authority?

The House of Assembly passed an amendment to the COVID-19 Pandemic (Special Provisions) 2021 in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, seeking to end the Emergency Order which expires on Saturday. But not without question from the Opposition, who queried the controversial title of the competent authority.

The Emergency Order was implemented by the former Minnis administration. This bill seeks to replace it with a few changes.

Who gets the new power?

The title of the competent authority is no longer a part of the new bill. Instead, powers lie within the Ministry of Health which has control of the ongoing pandemic. Particular powers are also given to the Minister of Health Michael Darville who can shut down businesses, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, if it does not adhere to the regulations or if there is an outbreak.

Under the former administration, Former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis was criticized for the title, which gave him sole powers, on the advice of medical officers, to operate in that vein.

What are the new changes and how will they work?

Aspects of the Emergency Order will come to an end which includes the curfews. However, Bahamians will still be required to wear masks, sanitize, and socially distance themselves.

Businesses are still required 50% occupancy and admittance of patrons showing proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

Businesses must give a protocol document pertaining to its guidelines for operation as approved by the Ministry of Health.

What do others think?

Former Cabinet Minister and Marco City MP Michael Pintard supports changes to the bill but worries that the Minister of Health, Michael Darville may now run the risk of becoming the new competent authority, due to his new duties in the bill.

Pintard thinks the powers are too broad and are similar to powers Minnis once held, which the PLP, when it was in opposition, readily criticized.

“The competent authority, if you’re not extending the emergency powers, should come to an end … in the shortest possible period of time. It was only designed for a short period of time,” he said.


‘Don’t Get Cute!’ ‘No, I Don’t Want To Be Cute!’ Pintard’s 5 Day PCR Test Question Triggers House Floor Wrangle

A question asked by Marco City MP Michael Pintard regarding the perceived unequal application of the five-day PCR testing requirement sparked a morning row with Health Minister Michael Darville in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.

Pintard sought clarification of a clause before the passage of the COVID-19 Pandemic Special Provisions Bill 2021.

“I know the Progressive Liberal Party has prided itself on putting Bahamians first and so I find it a bit odd unless I mis-read it, that you were prepared to accept from the United States…a five-day old Covid test. Americans can take it five days before travelling and we are willing to accept it…” he said.

“It seems as if there is unequal treatment of Bahamians with Americans. If you can help me understand, why is there that disconnect?”

Darville took exception to Pintard’s question and responded, “Read it and come back.”

Pintard, taken aback by Darville, asks, “Am I incorrect or not?”

“You’re incorrect,” Darville blurted out on his feet.

“So help me understand,” Pintard retorted.

“Read it and call me,” Darville said, spurring laughter from other parliamentarians

“It’s that kind of arrogance that has some other people in jeopardy,” Pintard replied on his feet, as House Speaker Patricia Deveaux interrupted to restore order in the House.

“Honorable member for Marco City, let me remind you that one person on his feet at a time please,” she said.

Pintard said, “Yes, except the one on his feet is insulting me, Madam Speaker. I intend to stand up. Don’t tell me read the bill. I’m referencing the section because I read the section. Only that section I’m raising with you…Don’t get cute.”

“No, I don’t want to be cute,” Darville said. But I don’t want you to be disrespectful as well.”

Darville could not find the documents to explain to Pintard at the moment, giving the floor back to Pintard and stating he will address the matter later in his speech.