Branding Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ recent trips to Exuma, Rum Cay and Cat Island as nothing more than campaigning, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis said last night that the trips were a blatant disregard for the very public health policy Minnis put in place to combat COVID-19.
While the COVID-19 emergency order provides that people traveling from New Providence to other islands in The Bahamas are subject to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival, Minnis has visited and traversed a number of Family Islands in recent days, moving about the islands and engaging with people on the ground.
On Friday, Minnis and his team visited Exuma for the opening of a dock in Barreterre, despite the island being recognized as a COVID-19 hotspot, with domestic travel to and from the island banned.
Minnis took the press and other government officials with him to Exuma. The Nassau Guardian did not attend the event and was told by one news agency that their reporter was not required to receive a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test, the standard policy in place for New Providence travelers visiting other islands, before traveling with Minnis.
Only a day later, the prime minister was on Rum Cay and Cat Island – COVID-free islands – where he was pictured interacting with locals.
Davis, the MP for Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador said he is deeply concerned by Minnis’ travel.
“I am concerned that he is traveling in the manner in which he is and [potentially] exposing…you know, I don’t know what his status is and the people he is carrying with him,” Davis said.
He continued, “We don’t know in his contact what is being transmitted.”
Davis said it is apparent that Minnis has been campaigning, and claimed he is using the emergency powers to promote his own political agenda.
“He is obviously campaigning because on each stop, he is meeting with his FNM generals, having discussions with them,” he said.
Davis added, “He can do that, but don’t shut me out. What is good for him ought to be good for me in respect to that.
“He was in San Salvador last weekend. We know who all he met with. He was in Rum Cay yesterday. We know who he met with. He was in Cat Island from yesterday and spent the night. We know who he met with. And they are all FNM operatives. So, I don’t mind that, but why should I be disadvantaged?
“So, all this lockdown for me is not about public health. It’s about promoting his own political selfish interests.”
The latest emergency order provides: “A person traveling from New Providence shall be required, upon arrival on the other island, to submit to mandatory quarantine at a government identified facility, or any other appropriate facility as determined by the Ministry of Health, at his own expense, for a period of fourteen days or for the duration of stay, if for a shorter period.”
However, the order provides that the competent authority – the prime minister – may exempt people from the need for quarantine.
The order also allows the prime minister to exempt senior government officials from the stipulation that requires those traveling from New Providence to have tested negative for COVID-19, by way of a RT-PCR test.