Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ attack on Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis for not attending the House of Assembly yesterday was “divisive and contradictory”, PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell said.
Davis, who recently recovered from COVID-19, returned from Atlanta, Georgia, last week, and is still in quarantine as mandated by the emergency orders, Mitchell noted.
“The prime minister has a bloody nerve,” Mitchell said in a statement.
“The prime minister told the House that it was unfortunate that the leader of the opposition was not present in the House. What a joke.
“The COVID-19 orders signed by the competent authority, the prime minister, require returning residents to quarantine for a period of 14 days upon arrival. Mr. Davis is complying with that protocol and order.
“[T]he leader of the opposition, therefore, claims no special privileges. He sticks to the rules.”
Following the revelation on Tuesday that a House of Assembly staffer tested positive for COVID-19, Minnis was highly critical of the opposition for opting not to attend yesterday’s House sitting.
He said Davis should be immune to COVID since he has already had the virus.
“It is unfortunate that the leader of the opposition is not here,” Minnis said in the House.
“We all know that the leader of the opposition had COVID and the leader of the opposition has antibodies. So, for all intents and purposes, the leader of the opposition is immune. He is the safest in the country at this time. He is immune and that immunity may last for three to six months. We don’t know the duration, but we do know that he is the safest in this country at this time. So, it is unfortunate that he is not here.”
Following news of the exposure in Parliament, there appeared to be confusion over whether MPs, who were in close proximity with the staffer when the House met last week, were required to quarantine. At the time, House Speaker Halson Moultrie recommended that all MPs quarantine and get tested. He said doing otherwise would not set the right example for the public.
Moultrie also recommended that yesterday’s meeting of the House be comprised of only enough members to form a quorum.
However, Attorney General Carl Bethel said that same day that the quarantine of MPs was not necessary because the clerks wore masks “all the time” and MPs wore them “most of the time”.
In a statement, the Cabinet Office said individuals who interacted with the employee, without following the preventative measures of wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance and limiting the time spent with the employee to less than 15 minutes, will be required to quarantine.
Footage from the House that day depicted a number of members, including Moultrie and Minnis, without their masks on at some points.
Minnis yesterday insisted that the government is not endangering anyone by not requiring MPs to quarantine.
Mitchell said Minnis is speaking out of both sides of his mouth.
“The public would be entitled to think the prime minister must have lost his right-thinking mind to now speak out of both sides of his mouth,” he said.
“He is the one when Loretta Butler-Turner and the others fired him as the leader of the opposition, who abandoned coming to the House of Assembly in dereliction of his duties.
“He is the one who flew to Grand Bahama last week and was seen campaigning in Abaco on the weekend in what looked like a contravention of the quarantine rules.
“It is this kind of duplicity surrounding these orders that has caused so much confusion, debate and ridicule. The prime minister must follow the Biblical admonition: ‘physician heal thyself’.”