In the wake of 10 new COVID-19 cases on Grand Bahama, former Minister for Grand Bahama and businessowner Dr. Michael Darville said the recent surge in cases has caused mounting concern for the business community on the island, that fears another possible lockdown.
Coming off the devastation of Hurricane Dorian last year and a slowed economy in the immediate aftermath, Darville asked, “How much more can you take? After recovering [from Dorian] of course the economy slowed down, but still you were still seeing some trickling effects from customers coming back and trying to get your business up and going. And then of course we were hit with COVID-19 over the last few months, where there was a complete lockdown. I’m a retail salesperson and so it was very difficult to weather that particular second shock. And so now you mention the fact that we are now seeing clusters, resurgence, community spread, whatever it is, as associated with the opening of our borders and the possible importation of COVID-19. And so the business community in Grand Bahama is very concerned,” he said in an interview with Guardian Business yesterday.
“Of course, we’re all concerned about safety first, but the economics behind it, how much more can you take? The constant shocks to the economy and the possible threat of a lockdown and then the economic impact in our communities, it becomes very difficult to plan for the future and determine whether or not you need to downsize your operation, or possibly even close it down. And so these are the realities on the ground in the business community and it’s definitely affecting employment and the way commerce is being done on the island.”
Health officials confirmed on Tuesday that after 63 days of reporting no cases, Grand Bahama had ten new confirmed cases between July 8 and 14, a week after the government opened the borders for international commercial travel.
The government has not announced any plans for another lockdown due to the resurgence of cases, however, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis is expected to address the nation on the matter this weekend.
“There has been talk about the possibility of another lockdown for Grand Bahama if the Ministry of Health’s epidemiological task force confirms that what we are seeing is not clusters of infections but moreso community spread. Of course the first priority is the health and well-being of the residents of Grand Bahama, but at the same time the government needs to clearly outline its protocol as a result of safety and to ensure that the business community is fully informed, so that we can make the necessary preparations and do what we need to do in order to survive and to be able to come back in the event there is another lockdown,” Darville said, adding that there needs to be more information from the government on its protocol to address this new wave of cases soon.
“And so, with this new wave of possible COVID-19 spread in the community, a lot of people are concerned about their safety and it is very important for the government to be very clear, to guide the community on what is really happening, to be accountable and transparent because if you don’t, then people begin to listen to all forms of social media and sometimes it’s not very accurate.
“We were very pleased when the Ministry of Health had its press conference and Dr. Bartlett, who’s leading the charge in Grand Bahama, began to explain about the cases that are in quarantine, about the illegal immigrants who were possibly exposed, the C.A. Smith building where they were housed, whether it was the appropriate place, the quarantine and the use of the government’s new app where they can monitor individuals in quarantine and speak specifically about whether the Rand Memorial Hospital is on alert and is prepared to handle it if we do have a surge of cases that need to be hospitalized. All of these things the community needs to know, so that we can prepare ourselves and the government can alleviate a lot of the fears.”