San Sal residents have mixed views on decision to keep island closed to business

Like residents on several other Bahamian islands who are still prohibited from conducting normal business, some San Salvador residents are disappointed the prime minister has not yet given the green light for them to resume normal commercial activity.

“Everybody here is wearing their masks when they go out to any of the business places, so I don’t see why we cannot open,” said Clifford Fernander, an 86-year-old resident of Cockburn Town.

“All the other places [are] open. I don’t know why San Salvador can’t open. All of Crooked Island, Acklins, all of those places are open. I don’t know, but maybe it’s because politically San Salvador is PLP. Maybe they spiting us.”

Observers might be quick to point out, however, that while San Salvador and Exuma, which both have PLP MPs, are not open for regular business, South Andros, another seat represented by a PLP representative, is open.

In addition to Crooked Island, Acklins, Andros, Abaco, Ragged Island, Rum Cay, Mayaguana, Inagua, Long Cay, Cat Island and Long Island have also resumed business.

On Wednesday, while explaining his decision to allow normal commercial activity to resume on some islands while other islands remain closed for business, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said he wants to ensure that authorities have the capacity to manage any potential outbreak of COVID-19, and thus chose to take a phased approach to reopening.

Rochelle Hanna, 58, a resident of North Victoria Hill, San Salvador, agreed with the prime minister’s reasoning.

“Nassau has its own challenges as is and having to have a number of cases come from the islands to Nassau, that’s adding to it,” she said.

However, Winston Bonaby, 70, a resident of Bonefish Bay, said San Salvador is adequately prepared for the unlikely case of a COVID-19 outbreak.

He described the island’s health facilities as “up to par”.

“They’ve had training,” Bonaby insisted.

“The health professionals here are quite up to date.”

Bonaby said the prime minister’s explanation “does not hold water” as it relates to San Salvador, which has a population of just over 1,000 people.

“How could we not manage if we have some of the first-class healthcare facilities here?” he asked.

He said the prime minister’s reasoning was “not good enough”.

Sandra Pitt, 70, a resident of Sandy Point, disagreed.

“I understand him,” she said.

“I think he’s just being very careful. We’ve been lucky.”

Pitt hopes commercial activity will resume on the island soon.

However, she said she is willing to wait another few weeks for that to happen if that means avoiding an outbreak of COVID-19 on San Salvador.

The Bahamas has recorded 97 cases of COVID-19 — 75 on New Providence, eight on Grand Bahama, 13 on Bimini and one on Cat Cay.

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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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