The morning after Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis reversed his decision on a seven-day complete lockdown on New Providence, hundreds of residents crammed food stores across the island to stock up in the event another “no notice” lockdown is announced.
Rosetta Duncombe, a public service worker, said she was taken aback by the prime minister’s original announcement made in a national address on Monday night.
Duncombe said when she got home from work that evening, she had hoped to go to the store the following day because she was out of food.
“We worked up to the last hour,” she said. “When I got off, the food store lines were too long. I decided that I would go home and shop on Tuesday. I really felt bad. I didn’t have anything in my house.”
After the prime minister decided to lift the lockdown, she said, she was relieved.
“When I heard the announcement, I felt so good. I really needed food. I needed basic items,” said Duncombe, who was at Super Value Cable Beach.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis relented on some of the “strict and aggressive” measures he had announced due to a high rise in COVID-19 cases on New Providence.
Grocery stores, pharmacies, water depots, gas stations and hardware stores are now allowed to open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. until further notice.
Joan Neely, 62, who was also at Super Value Cable Beach, said after the prime minister lifted the seven-day lockdown, the only thing on her agenda was the food store.
Neely said she walked straight into the food store when she arrived because she is a senior citizen.
“After hearing what the prime minister had to say, I decided the first thing I needed to do was go to the food store,” Neely said.
“I showed them my ID and I was happy they let me in. I did not have to wait.”
As she pushed her shopping cart, which was filled to the brim with food items, she said the prime minister should consider Bahamians from all walks of life when it comes to his decision making.
She added, “I was glad when they had revisited that announcement and they opened up. My thing is, we need the lockdown. However, I need the competent authority to be more sensitive to the needs of the people. A lot of people can’t move about like that.”
Anthony Watkins, 47, who was at Super Value on Mackey Street, said despite his ability to provide for his family during this time, he is still faced with some financial strain.
“I don’t think people understand that even those who are employed during the pandemic [are still challenged]. You may have family members who are unemployed. It’s a trickling effect,” Watkins said.
“When it trickles down, I’m not at an advantage. Even when I move about on the streets, I reach in my pocket and help. There are families in need who are in my neighborhood who I extend my hand to.”
Watkins said some people are in desperate need and decisions ought to be made with them in mind.
“As a parent, we learned not to punish our kids when we are angry,” he said.
“I felt like the prime minister was angry with us. Instead of taking a step back and reviewing, he just made a decision without thinking about what people are going through.”
On Monday, Minnis said the seven-day lockdown would be one of “sacrifice and hardship” but will allow health officials to evaluate and monitor the spread of COVID-19 on the island.
Only a limited number of essential services were permitted to operate under the initial seven-day lockdown. All grocery stores, private pharmacies and gas stations were closed to the public.
A new emergency order was released yesterday.
A curfew of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. is now in place for New Providence, Grand Bahama and most other islands.
While most businesses must remain closed, grocery stores, water depots and water production companies, pharmacies, gas stations and hardware stores are permitted to open to the general public between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Commercial banks and credit unions may open Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
As of yesterday, The Bahamas recorded a total 1,531 COVID-19 cases. The majority of those cases (880) were recorded on New Providence.