A day after Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced a 24-hour curfew in a heightened effort to fight COVID-19, New Providence residents swarmed grocery stores, pharmacies — some of which had a three-hour wait time for medications — and banks, which are all on a short list of places they are permitted to travel to.
Scores of people stood on pavements and endured long lines in order to stock up on essential food items and other supplies.
The lines were the result of the prime minister’s order that one person be allowed in an establishment for every 30 square feet of store space.
Shortly before 11 a.m., about 40 people were waiting to enter Super Value on Mackey Street.
Police officers were called to instruct the shoppers to follow social distancing protocols.
“Excuse me, it doesn’t matter if y’all live in the same house,” an officer told the crowd.
“Stay three feet apart please.”
Dr. Jenny Lloyd, 62, an educator, who had just left Xtra Value in Oakes Field, said, “The lines here were extremely long this morning when I first arrived, but I went to the gas station to fill up and when I came back, they were on point.
“They let the senior citizens in at the specified time and there are no senior citizens at this moment on the line.
“In the store, it’s spacious. It’s not congested, and so I’m happy to see that.”
Lloyd said she was headed home to avoid violating the newly imposed curfew.
The curfew, which carries penalties of up to 18 months in prison or up to $10,000 in fines, mandates that residents across the country not leave their houses for non-essential travel.
Nado Brown, 39, said he was happy for the curfew yesterday because “I can get where I need to go now with less traffic”.
He said he didn’t feel restricted by the curfew.
“I move when I got to move,” Brown said.
“You know, if the store’s opened up and I got to go, I go. If it’s closed, then I don’t got to go.”
Carla Duncombe, a 46-year-old single mother, woke up early yesterday morning to walk from her Kemp Road home to Xtra Value in Oakes Field.
“Actually, the buses are not running, so I walked here this morning and I have to walk back home,” Duncombe, who packs groceries, told The Nassau Guardian while standing outside the store.
Asked how long the walk took, she replied, “About 30 minutes to 45 minutes because I reached here about 6:22 a.m.”
For individuals like Duncombe, not having a bus service means a decreased sense of safety.
“It was [scary] but I kept on praying and saying, ‘Lord, I know it’s only me one but keep me safe while I [am] going to work,’” she said.
Duncombe added, “The bus is the main issue and people need to get to work. Everybody’s just walking and people ain’t used to that, so I think they should let them (buses) run a certain time.”
Last week, Minnis ordered the temporary suspension of the operation of public transportation and non-essential businesses in an attempt to contain COVID-19 in The Bahamas.
There have been five reported cases — four on New Providence and one on Grand Bahama — in The Bahamas.
The curfew expires at 9 a.m. on March 31.
Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday it will likely be extended by an additional 14 days or longer.
Curfew expires March 31