Amid criticism over his recent travel from New Providence to several Family Islands, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday defended the decision and insisted that he and everyone on his team tested negative for COVID-19 prior to the trips.
“I had my test,” he said.
“We had our tests. I know that’s what you want to ask. Yes, my wife had her test.”
Minnis said the travel is a demonstration of his commitment to Family Islanders.
“It is not recent. From I came into office, I’ve been traveling throughout the Family Islands. That has never stopped. So, it’s just a continuation. When I came in, I promised Family Islanders that I will visit them regularly and keep them abreast of what is happening in The Bahamas, especially after budget, after COVID, they must be informed.”
While the COVID-19 emergency order provides that people traveling from New Providence to other islands in The Bahamas are subject to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival, Minnis has visited and traversed a number of Family Islands in recent days, moving about the islands and engaging with people on the ground.
The order provides that the competent authority – the prime minister – may exempt people from the need for quarantine.
The order also allows the prime minister to exempt senior government officials from the stipulation that requires those traveling from New Providence to have tested negative for COVID-19, by way of an RT-PCR test.
On Friday, Minnis and his team visited Exuma for the opening of a dock in Barreterre, despite the island being recognized as a COVID-19 hotspot, with domestic travel to and from the island banned.
Minnis took the press and other government officials with him to Exuma. The Nassau Guardian did not attend the event and was told by one news agency that its reporter was not required to receive a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test.
Only a day later, the prime minister was on Rum Cay – a COVID-free island – and Cat Island, where he was pictured interacting with locals.
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis said last night that the trips were a blatant disregard for the very public health policy Minnis put in place to combat COVID-19.
Davis, the MP for Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador said it is apparent that Minnis has been campaigning, and claimed he is using the emergency powers to promote his own political agenda.