Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ new year’s address was nothing more than a campaign speech, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis argued, stating that the prime minister did not outline a vision for dealing with the pandemic.
Davis argued that the prime minister’s formula to beat back the virus – various lockdown orders – is not an acceptable substitute plan.
“We have heard enough talk about plans-in-development, somehow always a few weeks away from being announced,” Davis said in a statement.
“It is time for decisive action and a comprehensive approach to meet the economic and public health needs of the Bahamian people.
“What the Bahamian people need is a clear vision for addressing the current crisis and realistic plans to implement that vision.
“We cannot afford the competent authority’s formula of more job-destroying, economy-shrinking lockdowns; instead, we need new measures to prevent a third wave.”
During his address on Tuesday night, Minnis touted government initiatives to help Bahamians during the pandemic in 2020. He noted that “to support our fellow countrymen”, the government spent over $177 million on its COVID response up to the end of October 2020.
He also announced last night that Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, special health advisor to the Office of the Prime Minister, will chair the recently established COVID-19 Vaccine National Consultative Committee.
He also noted that it may be possible that The Bahamas could see its number of new COVID cases rise again before the vaccine arrives.
“If this happens, as a government and people, we will have to return to some of the measures that worked, to beat back previous waves,” he said referring to the various lockdown orders implemented last year.
“Through our experience during the pandemic year, we now know the formula that works.”
As of January 12, The Bahamas recorded 8,011 cases of COVID-19. New cases continue to remain in the single digits, though. A total of 6,351 people recovered from the virus and there were 1,433 active cases at last report.
Davis said a lockdown is not an acceptable plan.
“The problem for Bahamians is that the competent authority’s formula is brutal, business-killing lockdowns, instead of free and easy-to-access testing, public education, and actual enforcement of testing requirements for visitors,” he said.
“It’s hard to overstate just how damaging this government’s lack of planning has been for our country.
“The economic fallout from COVID-19 was always going to be bad, but it didn’t have to be this bad.
“Lockdowns were never an acceptable substitute for a plan, but now the prime minister tells us they’re the formula for beating COVID in our country.”
Davis said Minnis’ announcement that unemployment and food assistance will only extend through the end of this month is tragic news for many Bahamians.
The PLP leader was also critical of Minnis having not addressed a number of relevant issues, including a recent announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that travelers to the US will have to test negative for COVID-19.
“Unfortunately, this may reduce, even further, tourism to our country,” Davis said.
“The prime minister did not mention this, perhaps because doing so would underscore how unprepared his government continues to be.”