Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Michael Darville said yesterday that the government plans to end the state of emergency next month and regulations to govern the pandemic will be forthcoming shortly.
“I can tell you right now we are working very diligently to end the emergency regulations that are currently in place and plans are on the way to move the whole concept of the competent authority back to where it belongs at the Ministry of Health,” Darville told reporters outside of Cabinet.
“We believe that we can handle measures without emergency orders and we will lay regulations very shortly when we begin to go back to Parliament to demonstrate that it can be done without the emergency orders.”
A state of emergency was declared in the country last March following the first recorded COVID-19 case.
Under the state of emergency, various restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID were imposed across the country by the competent authority, defined in the law as the prime minister.
The state of emergency was extended several times.
The previous administration promised to end the state of emergency on November 13.
When asked yesterday if the Davis administration plans to move forward with this, Darville replied, “To my knowledge that is our plan. I have to discuss it with my Cabinet colleagues. But, from my perspective, I believe the time has come for us to remove the emergency orders, get on with life and put regulatory regimes in place to be able to police our country for COVID and to ensure that our public healthcare measures are adhered to.”
In August, shortly before he called a snap election, former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis tabled the Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Management Bill, 2021, for consultation.
The bill would empower the minister of health to declare a public health emergency and to impose restrictions in the interest of public health after consultation with the prime minister.
Asked yesterday if his office will utilize this draft legislation, Attorney General Ryan Pinder told The Nassau Guardian, “Ministry of Health and OAG (Office of the Attorney General) are in active discussions on the best way forward. Needless to say, we have a couple of options being considered.”
In the lead-up to last month’s general election, then-opposition leader Philip Brave Davis promised to end the emergency orders.