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Family reunited after weeks apart

On Friday, weeks after her elderly parents and son got stuck in the United States, Renette Harding got the best Mother’s Day gift she could have imagined when her family was reunited.

She said the reunion was a tearful but happy one.

“My parents are at their house, and my son is with me,” she said.

However, the joy came after hours of anxiety.

Harding expressed frustration over the lack of information given to her relatives when they first arrived back in The Bahamas. She said her son described being “herded like animals” by police with batons.

However, she acknowledged that it worked out in the end.

“Whilst I must say yesterday (Friday) was a very anxious day, with my family being moved around in a militant manner [and] at the same time not being given any information as to where they were being taken, they said, however, that when they arrived at Breezes, they were given the choice to home quarantine or stay in the hotel,” she said.

“Of course, they were overjoyed to learn that they had a choice.

“They told me that the medical staff treated them respectfully and humanely.

“They were examined and released immediately, after signing the proper documentation, and were allowed to arrange for transportation to their respective residences. I would have to say that even though it was a very stressful experience, I would like to thank the prime minister and his government for giving my family and I the best Mother’s Day gift that we could have thought to receive during this trying time – our family back on Bahamian soil.”

The Bahamian government shut down the country’s borders in March in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, leaving hundreds of Bahamian citizens and residents stranded abroad.

After weeks of criticism from the public, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced arrangements last week for Bahamasair to fly 183 of them to New Providence and Grand Bahama. The flight arrived on Friday.

Harding had been trying to arrange for her 79-year-old parents to come home on a private charter given that they are in the high-risk group.

However, after failed attempts to obtain permission from the prime minister for the private flight, they arrived in Nassau on the government-organized Bahamasair flight.

She said her letter to the prime minister was never acknowledged.

Theo Miller, 32, has had a different experience than Harding’s family since arriving on Friday. Miller is still at the Breezes Resort, and said he hasn’t been given the option to quarantine at home. He suspects it may be because he lives with his parents, but noted that there is space in the house where he could avoid contact with them.

He said his only real complaint has been the lack of information.

“The biggest thing through all this is there has been a lack of information,” he said.

“Every time you would ask a question, there were certain departments and we had to be handed over to another department. Nobody seemed to be talking to each other, and if they were, they were actively not telling us what they knew for some other reason.”

He added, “For the most part, the questions that we have asked have been met with mixed results.

“It seems like a lot of people are on a need-to-know basis. The information is seemingly being held a little tighter to the chest.”

Miller continued, “That has been the most frustrating part.”

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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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