A day after Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis expressed disappointment over some Eleuthera residents holding a “motorcade”, police announced yesterday that 13 people were arrested for “breaking the COVID-19 curfew”.
“I must say that I am extremely disappointed with the behavior of those in South Eleuthera who…engaged in a…motorcade on Friday,” said Minnis in a national address.
A video purportedly of that motorcade circulated on social media on the weekend.
Yesterday, police said, “As a result of the diligent efforts of the police on the island of Eleuthera, 12 males and one female were arrested over the past weekend for breaking the COVID-19 curfew. The suspects are expected to be formally charged before a magistrate court.”
Eleuthera is one of few Family Islands where normal commercial activity has not yet resumed.
In his national address on Sunday, Minnis announced normal commercial activity may resume on Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros.
In early May, he declared that such activity was also allowed to resume on Ragged Island, Rum Cay, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins and Long Cay.
Exuma, San Salvador, and the Berry Islands, like Eluethera, are still not open for normal business.
The prime minister has not said why those islands are being treated differently, but his expression of disappointment over the Eleuthera motorcade might suggest the reason for keeping that island closed to normal business.
A social media post indicated that there was a motorcade on the island after a resident died.
In a post, Eleuthera resident Angelisa Richards apologized to the prime minister and the residents of Eleuthera. She said her 25-year-old son died suddenly last Tuesday and his friends decided to have a simple drive-by around the community where he lived to honor him.
“They meant no harm,” Richards said in the post. “This was their way of saying ‘Fatz’ we will miss you. It was not intended to become a national issue. This was done before lockdown time and social distancing was adhered to because they were all in their vehicles.”
She added, “Please, kindly accept my apology and I pray God’s continued blessings on our Bahamaland.”
Richards also urged “peace”, stressing that no harm or ill will was intended.
“These boys were just friends,” she added. “They lived like brothers and if you all knew my son, you would understand why they are grieving so hard.”
Motorcades or drive-bys have become popular in the United States during this period as people who are social distancing see it as a good option to celebrate special occasions with others in person, or as a show of support for people who are grieving.
But under the emergency orders put in place in an effort to contain COVID-19 in The Bahamas, the islands of The Bahamas are subjected to a 24-hour weekday curfew. Residents are only permitted to leave their homes to make essential trips like going to the grocery store, medical facilities and pharmacies.
Weekend lockdowns will continue through the end of May. They start at 9 p.m. on Fridays and end 5 a.m. on Mondays.
As the prime minister announced the resumption of normal commercial activity in several more islands on Sunday, he emphasized that weekday curfews and weekend lockdown measures still remain in place.
Hundreds of people have been charged in recent weeks with curfew violations.