With the government expected to bring to Parliament today a resolution to extend the state of public emergency put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday called on the Minnis administration to end lockdowns, and gave early notice that the official opposition will not support an extension.
The state of emergency allowed the prime minister as the competent authority to impose a 24-hour curfew and weekend lockdowns to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The Nassau Guardian understands that a 14 to 30-day extension was being considered yesterday.
“I don’t know if we can support any more of these lockdowns,” Davis said.
He added, “It and of itself is not the answer. That has to be accommodated by many other things and we don’t seem to have those other things to make a lockdown effective.
“I think the Bahamian people are responsible enough that once they understand it, they will do it. So, you don’t have to force them.”
Asked if he was calling for the end of the restrictions, Davis replied, “Yes.”
Governor General C.A. Smith declared a state of public emergency in The Bahamas on March 18. It has been extended twice already.
It is currently set to expire at the end of this month.
Asked yesterday whether the prime minister had indicated plans to extend the restrictions, Davis replied, “Last time y’all asked him about me, he said he don’t listen to Brave Davis…
“You would expect that we would be in contact with each other at least to talk ourselves through this, but he’s the competent authority, and so he doesn’t need any advice because he is the competent authority.”
Davis said lockdowns and curfews are “not sufficient”.
“If you’re locking down, it has to be accompanied by other things like testing, contact tracing, isolation,” the opposition leader said.
“We don’t know what they’re doing. What is the rate of their testing? We have less than 300,000 persons on this island. Why have we not tested them all by now? Or at least a significant amount of them?”
The Ministry of Health said yesterday that 2,026 people have been tested in the country to date.
There have been 100 confirmed cases; 43 are active (six of whom are hospitalized), 46 have recovered and 11 have died.
Speaking at a press conference last week when the number of cases was 97, Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, health advisor to the prime minister, said The Bahamas was recording progress in the fight against COVID-19.
“Given the trajectory that we are having now, given the low number of new cases, the decrease in COVID hospitalizations, the decrease in the number of ICU beds, the system is performing well,” she said.
“And we would certainly share that information with the prime minister to guide his timetable for reopening of the country.
Since the state of emergency was declared, the prime minister has imposed a short-lived national grocery-shopping schedule, a five-day complete lockdown and a curfew.
The curfew mandates that residents only leave their houses for essential trips to places such as the grocery store, pharmacy or gas station.
The prime minister has relaxed restrictions and extended hours of operation for some businesses in recent weeks.