‘Govt must reopen wisely’

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis said yesterday that the Minnis administration must provide its detailed plan for reopening the country to tourists and keeping Bahamians safe from COVID-19.

The Bahamas closed its borders to tourists and

residents in late March as part of the government’s efforts to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. On July 1, the borders will reopen to visitors.

“We are roughly 10 days from reopening to visitors,” Davis said in a statement.

“If the government has detailed plans for keeping Bahamians safe once visitors return, they have not shared them. If the government has a serious plan to protect Bahamians from the worst of the economic crisis, they have not shared that with the public either.

“The government keeps complaining about how hard it is to manage during this time, asking for sympathy from Bahamians. They have it backwards: it is this government that must learn to have compassion for the people.

“First, it’s important to be very clear about the limited extent to which reopening is going to relieve the economic pain in our country.”

Davis asked if there will be doctors on call for every hotel property and whether those properties are doing enough to protect employees.

“What is our testing capacity for visitors and for Bahamians?” he asked.

“Is there a plan for every Family Island, each of which has its own unique challenges?”

The Ministry of Tourism  & Aviation has developed a reopening plan that outlines what hotels, airports and other tourism stakeholders must do to protect their guests and employees.

Davis said the PLP supports reopening The Bahamas, but “it has to be done right”.

“This is not going to be like turning on a light switch. Reopening will not instantly bring back the vast majority of lost jobs.”

He added, “The government must reopen wisely.”

He noted that the pandemic has “intensified in recent weeks”.

According to Davis, conditions “are similar to or even worse than those when we closed our borders completely several months ago”.

Davis said, “We know that when the U.S. economy was strong in recent years, The Bahamas benefited from an increase in visitors. Now that the U.S. is in recession, we know the impact on our economy will be profound.

“This is an argument, obviously, for diversifying our economy so that we are less dependent on tourism and on the economic situation in the U.S. But more immediately, our country needs a serious, detailed plan to support Bahamians through this crisis.”

He said the government needs to act “quickly”.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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