Editorials

Things fall apart

The country is moving toward reopening following the shutdown meant to contain and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Today, Grand Bahama has no active COVID-19 cases and Bimini, which just ended a two-week lockdown, has reported no new confirmed cases.

Forty-two cases remain active on New Providence and Bimini; hospitalizations have been reduced to just two, both on New Providence.

New infections have been reduced to sporadic cases on New Providence, the latest of which was reported on May 29.

That good news is overshadowed by the continued lack of information on the state of the disease in the country.

Since April 23, six weeks ago, no information has been made available to the public on either the source of new infections or connections between previous and new detected positive cases.

Press briefings by health officials have become increasingly infrequent.

Communication from the government has been reduced to press statements, formal radio and television speeches or statements in the House of Assembly.

That sporadic cases continue to appear, unconnected to a patient’s foreign travel or to others who have traveled to highly infected COVID-19 countries, is particularly worrisome.

It suggests that the virus persists in pockets on New Providence some 10 weeks after international passengers were barred from entry and more than two weeks after detection in earlier and existing confirmed cases.

The uneven and inexplicable rationale for easing of restrictions is causing concern.

This is characterised by nonsensical decisions that put a lie to much of the science we were told supported the need for emergency powers to be vested principally in one competent authority.

Few can make sense of safeguards that shut restaurants at Arawak Cay but permitted restaurants anywhere else on New Providence to remain open for curbside pick-up and delivery.

Fewer still could decipher benefits derived from limiting exercise, first to one’s yard, then to one’s neighbourhood and now permitted anywhere but only between specific hours.

The same queries surround restrictions to beach access. Beaches remain closed on four COVID-free Family Islands as well as on Bimini, Grand Bahama and New Providence.

Still, others cannot understand why crabs can be harvested on selected Family Islands and may be sold at six designated stations around New Providence (R.M. Bailey Park, The Market at Gladstone Road, Windsor Park, Bulla Pinder Park, Isiah Taylor Park and the old Chipman Estate property on West Bay St.) but fresh fish cannot be sold at the Montagu Fish Ramp or at Potter’s Cay.

The disorganized reopening of COVID-19-free Family Islands to normal commercial activity and inter-island travel accentuate the unscientific basis for much of the emergency regulations and orders.

First, stranded Family Islanders on New Providence had to obtain a Family Island Travel Health Card.

Now, this requirement is abandoned by a press statement issued yesterday by the Office of the Prime Minister, even before airlines and charter operators were authorised to resume service to the Family Islands on June 8.

Residents of New Providence are now in the peculiar position of being barred from visiting extended family and friends who live on New Providence but permitted, without health examination, to travel to COVID-19-free Family Islands come Monday!

Complaints from some sectors about these blatant inconsistencies, which appeared unreasonable and selfish just weeks ago, now appear reasonable.

The absence of sensible answers to questions fuels a growing disregard by some of the non-sensible rules and compounds the loss of trust and confidence in the government.

This is nowhere more evident than by the persistent violation of curfew and lockdown restrictions.

Traffic on the streets of New Providence between Monday and Friday hardly suggests any reduction from pre-COVID-19 volumes.

The large number of individuals brought before the courts for violations of weekend lockdown rules, and the recent blatant disregard of the curfew by scores of young people congregating along roadsides and outside of a club in the Centreville area where two members of the uniformed branches provide security services, are evidence that coercion is not working and efforts to persuade are compromised.

 

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