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Some trust PM to make right call, others anxious for business to resume

Tavala Ferguson, a 36-year-old Eleuthera resident, yesterday questioned why normal commercial activity is not allowed to resume on her home island.

The prime minister ordered the closure of non-essential businesses as of March 20, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but has since allowed some islands to go back to normal commercial activity.

But Eleuthera is not one of those islands.

“It’s a bit unfair,” said Ferguson, who is a resident of Wemyss Bight.

“It’s definitely impacting the economy because a lot of jobs are being displaced. Because the island is not exempted to open, it has a lot of people at home.”

Peggy Underwood, 55, who lives in Spanish Wells, said the settlement has been adhering to the government’s curfew and weekend lockdown protocols “more than any island in the whole Bahamas”.

“They’re just not opening us up,” she told The Nassau Guardian.

“We want to know why. Why aren’t we opened up?”

She said the 24-hour curfew and weekend lockdowns should not be in effect whenever the government decides to resume commercial activity on Eleuthera.

Commercial activity resumed on Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros yesterday.

In early May, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis declared that such activity was also allowed to resume on Ragged Island, Rum Cay, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins and Long Cay.

None of those islands have had confirmed cases of COVID-19; neither have Exuma, Eleuthera, San Salvador and the Berry Islands — all of which remain closed to regular business.

Minnis has not explained why some of the islands have not been granted permission to reopen.

Despite this, Maybell Gibson, 82, of The Bluff, Eleuthera, said she is confident that he knows what he is doing.

“The physicians know best and I’m willing, however long it takes, to stay in,” Gibson said.

“I don’t know if it’s going to hurt because I’m almost 83. I don’t want to go out there or have anybody come here and get the virus. I prefer staying in and waiting until the physicians think it’s time to go out.”

This is something that resonates with Olivia Greene, 32.

She believes the preservation of life should be put before financial gains during the health crisis.

As a result, she said she doesn’t mind waiting a bit longer for the prime minister to green light commercial activity on The Berry Islands.

“The island is very small, so, the chances of one person being infected with the virus and then spreading it to everybody else, that’s a great risk,” Greene, a resident of Bullocks Harbour, told The Guardian.

“I prefer the island remaining closed because I don’t want to catch the virus because I have children and I don’t want to pass it to them.

“So, I feel it’s in the best interest of everyone right now to keep the island closed. Just open up a few (Family Islands) and see how that goes and then you can move on from there.”

David Dean, 75, who also lives in Bullocks Harbour, shared the same sentiment.

“If everything opens at one time, you’re going to have difficulty,” he said.

“We don’t need to open right now. We’ll get open soon and we’ll be fine when we do.”

Dean supports the government’s decision to keep curfew and lockdowns in place as the Family Islands gradually reopen.

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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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