Bimini partygoers ignore protocols

Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle said last night that police on Bimini issued a number of citations to the organizers and some of the participants of a recent party on the island where scores of people were seen partying without masks. 

“Superintendent [Roston] Moss and his team are on Bimini,” Rolle told The Nassau Guardian.

“They have issued a number of citations to the organizers and some of the persons who participated in the event, which was held last night. They also prevented them from having a similar event tonight.”

When asked how many citations were issued, he replied, “I do not have a number. Suffice to say, the organizers were [cited] and some of the participants. They have not seen everybody as yet so they’re still dealing with that.”

A video, showing scores of maskless people partying, went viral over the weekend. People were shown crowded together, dancing, drinking and socializing. In the video, as music blared, an MC said, “It’s after 12. Bimini ain’t on no curfew. Nassau on curfew. It’s after 12. We in Bimini. Bimini sweet too, sweet bad bad.” 

When The Guardian spoke with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday, he had not yet verified the validity of the video.

“If that is valid, that is totally irresponsible, especially when we are trying to open up the country,” he said.

“Something like that can set us back.”

He noted that health officials would closely monitor the situation on the island in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 cases.

When asked if he would consider imposing restrictions on Bimini, Minnis said any decision he makes would be guided by data. 

“Even islands that are COVID-free, the mitigation policies remain in place,” he said, noting that people should wear masks, stand six feet apart and frequently wash their hands.

“My advice to people is, we are still in the COVID era.”

He noted that Bahamians and residents must remain on guard and added that parties are forbidden because they can be devastating, especially if one person present is COVID-positive. 

The commissioner shared similar sentiments.

“People need to abide by those laws, the emergency powers,” Rolle said.

“People need to abide by those. Everyone likes to jump on law enforcement. It is incumbent on every citizen and resident in the interest of the safety and the welfare of all to cooperate and to ensure that we protect ourselves and one another from the spread of COVID-19. This is not about law enforcement.

“This is not a law enforcement issue. This is about recklessness, about the behavior and the people of Bimini.” 

While residents on Bimini are not under a curfew, the emergency order states that a person may host or attend a gathering of “not more than 20 persons at a private residents or facility”. 

Since March, Bimini and Cat Cay recorded 63 cases of COVID-19. The island recorded four cases during November.

On Friday, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillan said contact tracing efforts on Bimini revealed that “there was a large church convention on the island last week Sunday”.

“To date, over 15 suspected COVID-19 cases are linked to that event and we are awaiting the results of their swab tests,” she said.

“Symptoms of one of these individuals was severe enough to warrant being airlifted to New Providence for further medical management.

“To every Bahamian across the archipelago, such large activities represent behaviors that put individuals, families, communities and our nation at risk. Congregating in large numbers at a church event, parties, social mix and mingles is too great a risk and can cause you and or your loved ones their life.”

Bimini was a COVID-19 hotspot during the first wave of the pandemic, which lasted from March to June.

It reported 13 cases during that period – roughly 12.5 percent of the total cases reported in The Bahamas at that time.

As a result, Minnis imposed a two-week full lockdown on the island in May.

Residents were not permitted to leave their houses to go to the gas station, grocery store or pharmacy during the lockdown. Various measures were taken to ensure residents had access to food and medicine.

It was the harshest lockdown imposed in The Bahamas since the start of the pandemic.

Lockdowns were imposed on other islands. However, in the cases of those lockdowns, like on Grand Bahama, residents were permitted to leave their houses for essential tasks like grocery shopping.


Yesterday, when reached for a comment, West Grand Bahama and Bimini MP Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe told The Guardian, “Having went through a very challenging start at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am concerned that we have let our guards down in Bimini.

“From what I gather and have been advised of, there appears to be an increase in social gatherings as well as increased numbers of people traveling to Bimini from other parts of the country.”

She appealed for Bimini residents to “strongly re-engage” in safety protocols.

“There is also a need for a stronger presence from law enforcement and health officials,” Parker-Edgecombe said.

“Our efforts over the past few months have resulted in minimum cases being recorded. We cannot afford for that to change at this most critical stage in the fight against COVID-19 here at home and worldwide.”

When asked for a response to Parker-Edgecombe’s comments on a need for more police on the island, the commissioner said, “I am satisfied with the level of policing on the island.” 

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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