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‘PM should have given people a chance to prepare’

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ decision to impose a more aggressive seven day lockdown on New Providence without prior warning was “especially cruel,” according to Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Chester Cooper.

The lockdown, which took immediate effect when it was announced on Monday, prohibits essential businesses like grocery stores, gas stations and water depots from opening.

“This latest lockdown, imposed without any warning, seems especially cruel,” Cooper said in a statement on Monday.

“What are people to do who simply do not happen to have enough food, water and other basic necessities at home tonight?

“What are essential workers, who were at work today when food stores, pharmacies and gas stations were open, to do now? The prime minister should at least have given people a chance to prepare. Even hurricanes come with more warning.”

The Bahamas has been in a state of emergency since March when the first COVID-19 case was reported.

Since then, the prime minister imposed a series of restrictions, including sporadic lockdowns, nightly curfews and the closure of non-essential businesses.

Minnis has yet to provide an economic plan to manage the far reaching effects of the pandemic.

Thousands of Bahamians and residents were furloughed or terminated as a result.

Cooper said the situation has led to “suffering caused by the economic hardship”.

He said it is “forcing many people into destitution”.

“The fact that the prime minister still refuses to answer any questions about his decisions and actions is inexcusable,” Cooper said.

“If he is so confident that what he is doing is right, why not accept questions from members of the press, who have clearly taken the trouble to inform themselves about this pandemic? Simply issuing orders through national addresses is widening the trust deficit and undermining confidence in his authority.

“This is not what the writers of the constitution intended. The prime minister often referred to what is happening in other countries, but every single other country in the world has a better recovery rate than The Bahamas.”

Cooper said The Bahamas must “urgently” learn from other countries.

He said it must make “strenuous effort” to avoid being the worst performing country during the health crisis. 

“It did not have to be like this,” he said.

“As we have said repeatedly since April, the science is clear that the key to success is in widespread testing. We are still only testing people with symptoms. This is simply too late as the virus is spread before people develop symptoms.

“A better economic plan to support families, households and businesses must also be implemented. 

“Lurching from week to week, and month to month as we have been, is simply not working.

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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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