Charges pending after HI wedding

Police plan to bring charges in relation to the reported violation of social distancing protocols at a Harbour Island wedding that took place on Saturday.

Police Press Liaison Assistant Superintendent Audley Peters said, “The information we are receiving is that this will happen once a magistrate arrives on the island.”

On Sunday, the Office of the Prime Minister released a statement advising that the competent authority gave permission for two “pre-planned weddings” with more than five people to occur over the weekend lockdown — one on Harbour Island and another on New Providence.

However, after Instagram videos made the rounds on social media of the Harbour Island wedding with a Junkanoo rush-out, live band and not many people wearing masks, police were called in to investigate.

“The competent authority has asked the Royal Bahamas Police Force to investigate reports that proper COVID-19 protocols were not adhered to at the wedding held on Harbour Island,” the statement read.

The wedding took place at Coral Sands Hotel.

According to Peters, the event was shut down by the island’s police after they received reports.

“Police became aware of it, went to the location in question and caused the establishment to be shut down,” Peters said.

“The attendees and the couple were not taken into custody. Everyone was just warned of prosecution.”

In the latest emergency orders, weddings are to take place with no more than five people.

Peters said individuals are to adhere to the provisions outlined in the emergency orders or be prepared to face the law.

“We want to warn members of the public to follow the orders as prescribed by the COVID-19 rules. Persons failing to comply, will find themselves before the courts and prosecuted.”

Social media users became agitated upon the release of the OPM’s statement, with some questioning the law and who it applies to, as the wedding occurred during a weekend lockdown, where it would have been illegal for Bahamians to exercise in their front yard after 5 p.m.

Just after 2 p.m. on Friday, a communication from OPM announced the weekend lockdown, which took effect hours later.

It stated that the lockdown was nationwide and that residents, unless workers, were only allowed to leave their homes if headed to the grocery store, pharmacy or gas stations.

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell said in a statement, the one conclusion that Bahamians see about the prime minister’s direction for the country on COVID-19 is that there is one set of rules for ordinary Bahamians and another set of rules for the whims and conveniences of party insiders and the well-connected.

“If the prime minister were to be judged by the standard that he projected in his speech to his new ministers in May of 2017, it then stands to reason that he has lost the moral authority to continue to lead on COVID-19 and must resign just as former health minister Dr. Duane Sands resigned under very similar circumstances,” Mitchell said.

Earlier this month, charges against three tourists accused of breaching the emergency orders were dropped after they told a magistrate they were given permission by an “officer in brown” to enter Cabbage Beach, despite it being closed during the Independence holiday weekend.

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