Thursday, Apr 2, 2020
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New list of who can operate

Dr. Hubert Minnis.

The prime minister last night released a new list of businesses and undertakings allowed to operate during the state of national emergency, which is currently in place until March 31, in an effort to contain COVID-19 in The Bahamas.

In exercise of his emergency powers, the prime minister on Monday announced a 24-hour curfew, which came into force at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Under the Emergency Powers (COVID-19)(No. 2) order 2020, all businesses and officers may only continue their businesses by allowing their employees to work remotely from home utilizing virtual means; where this is not possible, those businesses must close.

The new list of exempted businesses supersedes the original list of exempted businesses the government released last week, noted Attorney General Carl Bethel, who said the aim is to reduce human to human contact to an irreducible minimum, while safeguarding public health and permitting certain services under strict guidelines outlined.

The new list of exemptions accompanies the essential services outlined in the updated emergency powers order.

The exempted businesses and undertakings include electronic and technical services.

Two-way radio communications systems providers, electronic communications or technology service providers and IT support businesses are permitted to operate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or when needed in an emergency provided that they are not open to the general public.

Given that commercial banks are permitted to operate until 1 p.m., businesses engaged in the repair and maintenance or the provisioning of ATMs are permitted to operate, provided that physical distancing and other protocols stipulated in the order are maintained.

Additionally, farms including hydroponic farms with or without live animals, may operate from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Animal husbandry – feeding and tending to livestock for human consumption – may operate, but, again, these farms shall not be open to the public.

The Humane Society in Nassau, and Humane Society of Grand Bahama are exempted.

Veterinarians may operate on call and in cases of emergency.

National Park wardens may operate on call.

The list also stipulates that subsistence fishing may take place during daylight hours; commercial fishing is exempted until April 1.

All product must be taken directly to a processing plant and may only be sold to a wholesale distributor and not to the public.

The exempted list also outlines certain professional services.

Lawyers are exempted while discharging instructions of existing criminal matters or taking instruction in new criminal matters.

Any businesses that provide property management and/or maintenance services are exempted, but may not deal with the general public.

Rental car businesses are permitted to open to the public between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. to allow for the return of car rentals and the extension of any rental contracts that may be required in light of the order.

Other exempted businesses and undertakings include groceries and non-alcoholic beverages mobile delivery services between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m; business-to-business suppliers of cleaning chemicals; janitorial and similar services supplied to businesses and pool maintenance and supply businesses.

Funeral homes and all public and private cemeteries are permitted to operate, but must adhere to certain protocols, including social distancing.

The exempted list also includes industrial manufacturing businesses on Grand Bahama. They must only use essential workers.

These include Polymers International Ltd.; Grand Bahama Power Company; Bradford Grand Bahama Limited; PharmaChem Technologies G.B. Ltd; Freeport Container Port Ltd.; Bahama Rock – Martin Marietta; Buckeye Bahamas Hub Ltd.; Grand Bahama Shipyard Ltd.; Bahamas Industrial Technologies Ltd.; Bahamian Brewery; Freeport Aggregates Limited and Quality Services Limited.

Additionally, non-profit organizations, churches and civic organizations utilizing only essential persons, who provide food packages to persons in need, may operate between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

AUTEC Naval Base; OPBAT, Customs and Border Protection; consular officers; diplomatic security agents, embassy and security personnel may operate between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. or in an emergency, with the permission of the commissioner of police.

The list also includes security services related to Jacks Bay Development Ltd. and Commonwealth Brewery.

Where possible, only essential workers necessary for the performance of the core functions of the exempted businesses should be used, the prime minister has ordered.

Speaking to The Nassau Guardian last night, the attorney general stressed: “Only what is in the (COVID-19)(No. 2) order 2020, and any exemptions granted under that order, can remain in business on the terms set out in either the order itself or in the exemption notice. Everybody else must work from home remotely if they must work and shelter in place in any event at home.”

As indicated, the order, itself, outlines essential services that are exempted, including law enforcement; social services; national insurance; the social services department and other essential services.

Wholesale or retail grocery stores; doctors offices, hospitals and other medical facilities; medical supply establishments; pharmacies; hotels and drive thru and takeout restaurants are some of the businesses exempted in the emergency powers order.

Bethel said last night that the businesses and services outlined in the order and the exempted list represent the “bare essentials” to keep the country operating.

Candia Dames

Candia Dames is the executive editor of the Nassau Guardian.

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