PM to meet with medical community on state of emergency

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis will meet with members of the medical community for their advice and will later decide the way forward on the state of emergency, which is set to expire on May 23, Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday.

The Bahamas is experiencing a third wave of COVID-19. There have been 10,711 COVID-19 cases recorded since March 2020. There have been more than 200 confirmed deaths.

Bethel said the government is prepared to do whatever is necessary to protect Bahamians during the pandemic. 

“Cabinet has not made a determination and I raised the issue and the prime minister indicated that he wishes to have some serious discussions with the medical community and get their advice,” said Bethel when asked about the state of emergency.

“He is not prepared to commit to any particular course of action until he has done so.

“I understand sometime this week he will probably be doing that. We look forward to whatever recommendations the medical community have.

“I did make the point before and it bears repeating that Bahamians, we all know what the protocols are but we may still need guidance on adhering to them.

“One way or the other, whether it is by way of the statute, by way of perhaps some amendments to pre-existing laws, if we could facilitate that, we will do whatever we have to do in order to protect the Bahamian people.

“It is just a question now of what’s the best advice from the medical community as a whole.”

Bethel previously said the government can deal with pandemics through ordinary legislation.

Last October, he said the government was drafting a Medical Emergency Bill.

The attorney general also defended the prime minister in his role as competent authority, stating that he engages in consultation before any decision.

“Just for those who like to say the competent authority and make all sorts of aspersions, there is no question that he has always consulted with his colleagues in Cabinet on every decision,” Bethel said yesterday.

“He is now also, on this decision, intensively consulting with the medical community and the COVID-19 task force that was appointed way back in March last year.”

The first state of emergency was declared in March 2020, shortly after The Bahamas recorded its first case of COVID-19.

However, a “procedural oversight” in the Office of the Attorney General led to the inadvertent expiration of the first state of emergency on June 29, 2020, leading to the governor general’s declaration of a new state of emergency on the same day.

The state of emergency empowers the competent authority to make various emergency orders to safeguard the country.

Since the declaration of the first emergency, the competent authority has imposed social distancing measures, stay at home orders, the closure of non-essential businesses, the closure of the border, curfews and weekend lockdowns.

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to assistant news editor in December 2018.

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