Curfew and lockdowns may be relaxed on Family Islands soon

The relaxation of curfew and lockdowns on more Family Islands can be expected soon, Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, advisor to the prime minister, said on Friday.

“When we look at some of the other islands, Andros, Cat Island, Long Island, the prime minister has asked if we would support [the relaxation of restrictions],” she said during a virtual press conference at the Ministry of Health

“And we’ve certainly given it strong consideration. And I think in his national address, he will announce on which of the other islands restrictive would be lifted.”

However, she noted that on some islands, there have been reports of noncompliance in social distancing.

“We can recommend that social distancing measures have not always been consistently followed,” she said.

Dahl-Regis added, “So when the reports don’t report to us and if you keep up not having cases and the reports are that you are not at risk for having new cases, I think it’s just a matter of a short period of time when that recommendation will follow.”

Dahl-Regis said Family Islanders stuck in Nassau will also be allowed to return home.

“The ministry has developed a policy and protocol for the approval and monitoring of people traveling inter-island. The prime minister will outline the policy and protocols during his upcoming national address.”

There are 96 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas on four islands. There are 74 cases on New Providence, 13 on Bimini, eight on Grand Bahama, and one on Cat Cay. Eleven people have died and seven people are hospitalized.

There were no new cases reported on Friday.

Dahl-Regis noted that three weeks have passed since the last death.

Bimini was identified as a hotspot for the novel coronavirus and will begin a two-week lockdown on Monday.

With roughly 1,700 people tested so far in The Bahamas, Dahl-Regis said she hopes the country will reopen quickly.

“We’re hoping that we can move quickly through the phases,” she said.

“…We don’t know when the pandemic will end, but we hope that we can get to phase five very quickly.”

She said the further reopening of the economy nationwide will depend on a number of factors.

“The metrics that we use to give guidance to the lessening of restrictive measures include the number of deaths; the number of new cases and the interval when these cases occur,” she said.

“We look at hospitalizations, the capacity of the institutions to accommodate new cases or a surge in cases and we follow the traffic through the accident and emergency facilities. And we also look at our capacity to test. All of those factors come into place.”

Dahl-Regis also noted yesterday that an app to monitor people under quarantine at home is now in use to protect public health after officials noted difficulties keeping track of those in quarantine.

“It is a 24-hour monitoring service for all those in home quarantine and isolation,” she said.

“It provides geofencing capabilities, which pre-program virtual boundaries around the properties or dwelling structure of those in quarantine or isolation, broadcasting alerts whenever there is a breach or violation of the virtual boundaries, and real time tracking and recall.”

Dahl-Regis said quarantine violators could face fines up to $20,000 or prison sentences up to five years or both.


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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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