Tuesday, May 18, 2021


PM: Groups on Beaches and Parks Limited to 5 People for Easter Weekend

As the Easter weekend approaches, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis stressed that groups on beaches and parks are limited to 5 people only.

He said COVID Ambassadors will monitor beaches and parks to ensure the enforcement of the Emergency order.

WITH fears growing that we could be on the brink of a third wave of COVID infections this was the scene at Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island on Sunday evening.Hundreds of youngsters had packed the eastern end of the beach all day. Few, if any, wore a mask and social distancing guidelines were blatantly ignored.
For over a year we have been warned to stick to the rules - avoid super spreader events and we can beat this pandemic. Now, with Easter just days away all pretence of playing safe seems to have been abandoned.
Photo: Racardo Thomas
Beachgoers at Cabbage Beach, Paradise Island on Sunday. Photo: Racardo Thomas

Why it matters

Beaches were reported to be crowded on Sunday past, as a large number of beachgoers ignored the social distancing and the use of masks protocol.  A picture has circulated showing the beachgoers defiant of the Emergency Order.

The big picture

Director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme at the Ministry of Health, Dr Nikkiah Forbes,  said the country is on the brink of a third wave as it is “fully possible” that COVID-19 cases could jump rapidly after the Easter holiday weekend due to increased social interaction.

What Minnis says

Minnis said large gatherings over the holiday weekend “could set the country back” as other countries grapple with a third wave of the virus.

“We can not afford a painful third wave. We all must do our part. We don’t want another surge in cases in the Bahamas. This will result in more hospitalization and more deaths.”

When asked for his response to criticism that political groups have gathered in large groups to campaign in recent weeks, Minnis said, “You would have seen them still spacing out. And each and everyone, regardless of the political organization, each and everyone was wearing a mask.”

Minnis Proposes $50,000 Lots In Western NP for Young Bahamians

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Hubert Minnis tabled a resolution for the development of an upscale community in western New Providence that will offer lots for $40,000-$50,000 to 18-45-year-olds.

The development is part of the government’s effort to increase access to affordable housing and prioritize and support young Bahamians, Minnis said on Wednesday while tabling the resolution in the House of Assembly.

“When we came into office, we made a commitment that every Bahamian would have the opportunity to participate in what we then termed the Bahamian Dream,” said Minnis.

The details

  • The lots are valued at $150,000 each but will be available for purchase at a cost of $50,000 for multi-family lots, and $40,000 for single-family lots.
  • The first area identified consists of 83-acres in the vicinity of the Baha Mar resort and will incorporate walking paths, a community center and a swimming pool.
  • To maintain low costs for aspiring homeowners, the government will grant customs duties waivers on all building materials and appliances and stamp tax, and real property tax for a minimum of two-years post-construction.
  • Landowners will also be able to purchase pre-approved architectural designs at a cost of $1,000.
  • Construction must be completed within a two-year timeframe to ensure timely development of the community.
  • The government has identified two additional parcels of land in Western New Providence, areas in Southern Eleuthera, Exuma, and future development plans throughout the Family Islands.
  • More details of the phased affordable housing plan will be provided in the upcoming Budget Debate.

Nurse Becomes First to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

The first COVID-19 vaccination in the Bahamas took place Sunday morning.

The first person to receive a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine was a healthcare worker, Public Health Nurse, Sister Ruth Bastian.

Nurse Bastian received the jab at the Loyola Hall in Gladstone Road. Bastian said she was pleased to demonstrate her confidence in the safety of the vaccine and encouraged others to take the vaccine when it’s their turn.

This signals the beginning of the Bahamas’ vaccine rollout.

May be an image of one or more people and text that says 'BAHAMAS MINISTRY OF HEALTH BAHAMAS MING LTH MIN LTH MINI BIOHAZARD'
Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis receives a jab of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Public Health Advisor Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis also received the vaccine.

Last week, India, a manufacturer of the AstraZeneca vaccine, donated 20,000 doses to the Bahamas as it did to other Caribbean countries.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis and his wife Patricia will receive the first jab at 2:45 pm today, as well.

Following concerns by some European Countries in regard to blood clots caused by the particular vaccine in a small group of people,  health officials in the Bahamas have put fears to rest, assuring that the vaccines received by the Bahamas on Wednesday,  were different from the batch reportedly used in the affected countries, and have met all of the requirements and standards set by the World Health Organization.

The Arrival of 20,000 Doses of AstraZeneca Vaccine: A Light at the End of the Tunnel

The 20,000 vaccine doses donated to the Bahamas by India, arrived on Wednesday morning.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, Minister of Health Renward Wells and other officials were on hand at the Lynden Pindling International Airport to receive the batch of Astra Zeneca vaccines, the first to arrive in the country.

Minnis hailed the much-anticipated cargo as “a light at the end of the tunnel.”

He said this shipment will assist the Bahamas in getting back to a sense of normalcy after nearly one year of lockdowns and curfews.

Minnis said Junkanooers have contacted him, eager to receive the vaccine. “Junkanooers, get ready for Christmas. Let’s rock and roll.”

He assured the public that the vaccination rollout will commence as soon as next week, as he is in constant consultation with his advisor Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis and Chief Medical Officer Pearl McMillan, members of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee.

“As the day approach, they will keep you updated,” he said. “Everything will be totally transparent.”

Minnis said this week will be a trial run. And next week, the inoculation process will begin. He also noted that the IT program has already been completed in preparation for the digital registration of individuals wanting to take the vaccine.


Minnis Vows to Appoint More Women to Cabinet if Reelected

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis promises that if his administration is reelected in the next General Election, he will appoint more women to the Cabinet.

Why it matters

West End MP Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe was appointed as Minister of State in the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, yesterday, making her the only woman in Cabinet, since the recent resignation of Youth, Sports and Culture Minister Lanisha Rolle. Parker-Edgecombe replaces Iram Lewis who replaced Rolle.

The big picture

Since Independence, two women have served as Governor Generals. Women have also headed the legislative and judicial branches, including as President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Assembly, President of the Court of Appeals and Chief Justice.

Currently, of the 16 members of the Senate, seven women are serving in that capacity.

Cynthia ‘Mother’ Pratt served in the Cabinet as Deputy Prime Minister.

What PM says about women leadership

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the representation of women in the Cabinet is at a historic low, given the previous number of women serving at that level.

“This is not good for our democracy or our society.

“In keeping with the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, I challenge myself, my party, other parties, the nation, and the women of the nation, in our collective determination to ensure that more women serve in Parliament and in the Cabinet.”

20,000 Vaccine Doses to Land on Sunday

The Bahamas will receive its first batch of COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccines on Sunday.

The Office of the Prime Minister announced that this first batch includes 20,000 doses which is a donation from the Government of India.

The big picture

Over 2 weeks ago, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced that the country was to receive the first batch of the 100,000 doses of Astra-Zeneca vaccine this month. He added that the government also secured a commitment from the Government of India for a small quantity of AstraZeneca vaccines from a WHO/Emergency Use Listing (EUL)-approved manufacturer in India.

Like the Bahamas, the UK will receive 10 million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII).

SII is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, in mass-producing the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed with Oxford University, for poor and middle-income countries.

The details

The vaccines were pre-qualified by the World Health Organization (WHO) and received Emergency Use Listing (EUL) approval by the WHO. The vaccines have also received certification from the Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS).

The donation is part of a commitment from India to donate a total of 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.

Minnis thanked the Government of India for the donation on behalf of the Bahamian Government and the people of The Bahamas.

Dr. Minnis will provide a live update on the rollout of this first batch of vaccines on Sunday, to be aired live on ZNS Ch. 211 and local TV stations, and live-streamed on the Office of the Prime Minister’s Facebook page, @opmbs.

Why it matters

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is known as an effective vaccine to prevent the spread of the infectious disease, beginning 2 weeks after the second dose.

Many Bahamians have expressed suspicion about the use of vaccines. It remains to be seen what percentage of Bahamians will take the vaccine.

DNA Marches for Early Election

As parliamentarians debated the midterm Budget Debate in the House of Assembly today, scores of supporters of the Democratic National Alliance gathered near the front of the House demanding that Prime Minister Hubert Minnis “ring the bell.”

Party leader Arinthia Komolafe and Deputy Leader Omar Smith, dressed in party colors led the march Down Town to Parliament Square, shouting, “Minnis gat to go, Minnis ga to go,” and “PM ring the bell, PM ring the bell.”

The party likened Prime Minister Hubert Minnis to the biblical ruler Pharaoh, often shouting as they marched, “Let my people go.”

Why it matters

The DNA is seen as the alternative to the major political parties.

Although the major political parties have ratified candidates, many are awaiting the DNA’s ratification and the official presentation of candidates to their perspective constituencies.

The big picture

Speculations have arisen whether or not Minnis will call an early election. Both major political parties, including independent candidates, are often seen campaigning on weekends.

However, Minnis indicated last week in the House that an early election depends on the decision by his team.

What Komolafe says

After being ushered behind barricades, Komolafe said her party was representing the frustrations of the Bahamian people.

“We’re here asking the Honorable Dr Hubert Alexander Minnis to ring the bell. For almost 365 days, we have been under Emergency Orders. It has cost jobs, it has caused lives. It has caused livelihoods. We are calling on the Prime Minister to free the Bahamian people from hell and to ring the bell.”

Komolafe said she is confident her party will win the next election. “If we were not confident, we would not have been here…The people are tired. The people are frustrated. They do not want the FNM. They do not want the PLP. They are calling for an alternative. The DNA is the alternative,” she shouted.

Investigation Underway After Rolle’s Resignation

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis is investigating matters in the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture after Lanisha Rolle announced her resignation from the post as Minister.

“Certain matters have been brought to the attention of the Prime Minister and are under investigation,” according to a statement from the Cabinet Office.

Why it matters?

Lanisha Rolle presented her resignation from the ministerial post on Tuesday, to the Governor-General. She did not cite her reasons for abandoning the post, only thanking Minnis, cabinet colleagues, support staff at the ministry, and her family for their support while she served as minister.

May be an image of 1 person, standing and outdoors
The executives of the Seabreeze association gathered at LWFM Church on Sunday.

Rolle said she remained committed to serving as the Seabreeze MP for the remainder of her term as their representative.

The big picture

Minnis has accepted Rolle’s resignation.

Rolle is the fourth Cabinet minister to resign from the Minnis administration, joining Peter Turnquest, Dr Duane Sands, and Brent Symonette.

Who replaces Rolle? - National Report by Minister of State Iram Lewis

Minister of State in the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Iram Lewis will demit his post to become the substantive Minister of Youth, Sports, and Culture.

The Prime Minister has advised His Excellency the Governor-General to appoint the Hon. Iram Lewis to the post that Rolle once held. Minnis thanked Rolle for her service.

Minnis Hoping for Smooth Vaccine Rollout

The Minnis administration is pulling all of its resources to ensure a smooth vaccine rollout, as the distribution plan is in its final stages of completion, according to Prime Minister Hubert Minnis.

Minnis in a national address on Sunday said drive-thru sites, mobile units and assistance from the US embassy are being used to ensure Bahamians wanting the vaccine will be vaccinated.

The big picture

The country is expected to receive the first batch of the 100,000 doses of Astra-Zeneca vaccine beginning this month.

The government has also secured a commitment from the Government of India for a small quantity of AstraZeneca vaccines from a WHO/Emergency Use Listing (EUL)-approved manufacturer in India.

What the PM says

“The government continues to work on all fronts to secure additional approved vaccines for the Bahamas,” said Minnis.

“Officials are speaking directly with multiple suppliers to obtain more WHO/EUL approved vaccines.”

Minnis assured that the government will only accept COVID-19 vaccines that are pre-qualified for use by the World Health Organization and approved by stringent regulatory authorities.

He urged all who are eligible to get vaccinated.

“I will take the vaccine,” he said. “I will urge family and friends to take the vaccine.

“By getting vaccinated you will help the country to return to a greater level of normalcy. By getting vaccinated you will also help our economy to recover faster. When a large percentage of Bahamians are vaccinated, we will be able to responsibly open up even more.”

Details of the distribution

  1. Healthcare workers, people over the age of 65, uniformed branch members and frontline workers will be among the first priority groups eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on New Providence and Grand Bahama.
  2. Critical workers in high-risk settings and other essential service workers will also be included among the first groups.
  3. On the Family Islands, all eligible residents who choose to take the vaccine will be vaccinated at the same time. The schedule will not follow the prioritized group rollout on the islands.
  4. The US Embassy has offered to assist with air transportation to the Family Islands during the vaccine rollout, particularly the smaller islands and cays.
  5. 8 to10 vaccination sites have been identified on New Providence, inclusive of drive-thru sites.
  6. Sites have also already been identified on Grand Bahama and the Family Islands.
  7. Mobile units will be used to safely distribute vaccines to vulnerable populations in their communities; focus will be placed on high-risk populations where COVID-19 has occurred.
  8. Health officials and the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee are looking at additional platforms to increase access to and ensure equity of distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to all communities.
  9. Vaccine appointment software is very near completion and is expected to be rolled out in advance of distribution, for scheduling of appointments digitally.
  10. For those without access to the internet, appointment centers will be set up to provide assistance with making appointments to receive the vaccine.

Minnis Wielding Political Axe in Preparation for 2022 Win

Free National Movement Leader Hubert Minnis said to expect more cuts in the party in the run-up to the 2022 General Election.

“As we evaluate the remaining candidates, there will be a mix of new entrants and incumbents. Some people who ran in 2017 will not run in the next general election,” he said.

Why it matters

Former Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest was not renominated by the party to run on the party’s ticket in 2022.

Since then, other names have swirled on social media of others who may be axed from the ticket.

The big picture

The Progressive Liberal Party and the Free National Movement ratified new candidates for the next general election.

The FNM’s group included 6 new candidates and 11 incumbents, while the PLP ratified 18 candidates for the next general election.

The FNM says its first of the 17 candidates include a mix of experienced individuals and new energy and talent.

What Party Leader Minnis says

  • “We are committed to offering the best team possible for governance.
  • Our party is well advanced in the process of evaluating potential candidates for the remaining constituencies. In the coming weeks, further ratification announcements will be made. These decisions are based on careful consultation and the need for the ongoing renewal of the FNM.
  • Out of respect and courtesy, our party will first privately inform those incumbents who will not be nominated again before we make public announcements.
  • It is our intention to draw on the expertise of some of our former candidates in various ways in the future should the people again give us their confidence as their government.”

PM on the history of the PLP

Hubert Minnis said the two major parties have different visions for the country and the FNM has “acted decisively during the pandemic to save lives and protect the future of Bahamians.”

Minnis said “The PLP opposes the live-saving emergency measures we enacted. Under the PLP’s policies, there would be no clear rules, the virus would spread, and there would be more sickness and death and economic ruin. The PLP is not a trustworthy party to govern The Bahamas.

Minnis reminded Bahamians, “Whenever they (PLP) are in office there are scandals that do damage to the international reputation of the Bahamas.”