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State of emergency to expire at midnight

Dr. Hubert Minnis. FILE

The state of emergency, which allows for the government to enforce measures such as the curfew, the wearing of masks, the closure of some businesses and social distancing, is set to expire at 12 a.m.

Attorney General Carl Bethel told The Nassau Guardian that the governor general must now sign a new proclamation of emergency in order to extend the emergency powers.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis tabled a resolution to extend the state of emergency to July 31 in the House of Assembly today. However, the resolution isn’t expected to be debated and passed until tomorrow afternoon.

Bethel said he hoped a new proclamation would be in place by midnight to prevent the state of emergency from lapsing.

“Hopefully there will be another proclamation in place which will then continue the state of emergency,” he said.

Bethel added, “The conditions that led to the need to have a proclamation of emergency have not yet left The Bahamas. We are still in a situation where we must have discipline. We must have self-protection and the ability to mandate things like masks and everything else and also social distancing.

Governor General C.A. Smith declared a state of public emergency in The Bahamas on March 17 as COVID-19 began to spread in the country.

Bethel said the oversight was on the part of the Office of the Attorney General, as draftspersons were focused on the budget.

“It inescapably was an oversight and there’s no excuse for it. My office and I representing my office would have to take responsibility for it that it was an oversight,” he said.

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