The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) yesterday called Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ announcement that he plans to relax business and movement restrictions on New Providence “an about face” with no medical justification.
“Nothing we heard today inspires confidence,” PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper said in a statement released after a joint press conference with the prime minister and the Ministry of Health.
“One has to wonder whether there was a thorough analysis of the data before his cruel announcement of an immediate lockdown.
“The prime minister’s announcement today of the rapid relaxing of restrictions appears politically motivated, rather than scientifically driven.
“He must do a better job at justifying his decisions.
“We are happy for the businesses that can now open but too many Bahamians are still suffering with no food, no jobs and no housing.”
Cooper said the party remains profoundly concerned about the ability of the government to halt the outbreaks of the virus across our islands.
He also said the government needs to explain what it plans to do to open up the economy.
“If the government has a plan to exit from this crisis, they need to share it,” Cooper said.
“A comprehensive plan to manage this crisis is long past due.
“To simply say we will soon hear what it is, is simply not good enough, almost six months into the crisis.
“This day-by-day improvisation by the government is not working.
“People can see for themselves that the government is just winging it.
“The panic caused by the sudden imposition of a full lockdown last week resulted in chaos the following day, and then long lines and crowding after the reversal of that policy.
“At a time when their own regulations restrict the size of gatherings, their other policies result in crowds.”
The prime minister said that businesses that can offer curbside and delivery will be able to do so as of Monday.
However, he said if the data indicates things are worsening, that may change.
“Individuals and small businesses need to be able to look ahead and plan,” Cooper, who is also shadow minister for finance said.
“Saying businesses can offer certain services by Monday, but telling them that may change this week, does not provide certainty.
“It does not inspire confidence for the business community.
“Everyone understands the need to be flexible.
“But it is the government’s job to reduce uncertainties, not make them worse.
Cooper also called on the prime minister to expand the competent authority given oversight authority during the state of emergency to include experts and specialists, “who can review the scientific studies, learn from success stories of other nations, put best practices into place, and get the virus under control”.
Cooper said the government needs to be “more truthful and more transparent about the nature and scale of the outbreak”.
“The government must better explain the sudden increase in the death toll,” Cooper said.
“The government must also advise what percentage of positive cases are being tested.
“In addition, the prime minister must continue to answer questions himself as he did today.
“The prime minister must also stop using the experiences of other nations as an excuse.
“That doesn’t make sense when our country is ranked 184th on a global index for COVID recovery.
“Many nations are not in lockdown, and life has returned to somewhat like normal there, with any new cases treated with the urgency and resources necessary to stop any spread.”
Cooper also called on the government to offer more support to Bahamians.
“The current government programs are too haphazard, too unreliable, and too limited in scope,” he said.
“We reiterate our call for what a post-emergency order environment looks like.
“We have heard very little on what will be the plan for the new normal.
“We have put forward our plans.
“We invite the government to familiarize themselves with them.
“The opposition stands ready to assist.”