Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced on Friday that he will soon outline plans for “Vaccination Day” – when all fully vaccinated people will enjoy the suspension of emergency order restrictions – but Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis predicted yesterday this would lead to confusion.
Minnis made the comment following a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Lyford Cay Upper School, where he said that on that day, fully vaccinated individuals will have special privileges, including permission to have parties, happy hours and curfew exemptions.
“Obviously for him to say that, what is the science behind that?” Davis asked.
“And all you are going to be doing is creating mischief, because how are you going to police those who have [been vaccinated] versus those who have not?”
Many social media users and some listeners calling into radio talk shows on Friday expressed concern over the prime minister’s announcement, claiming that perks for vaccinated people are discriminatory.
Asked yesterday whether he believes it is right to encourage vaccination in this manner, Davis said, “I think it is right to encourage people to take the vaccine.
“But that encouragement must be accompanied by public education on the efficacy of the vaccination and its value to the persons who are going to take it.”
While the prime minister didn’t provide the proposed date for the vaccination day, he said an announcement will be made “very soon”.
“We can have vaccination parties, those who are vaccinated and, most of all, we can have vaccinated happy hours in our restaurants and bars,” Minnis said from the podium.
“Believe me, this will come sooner than you think.”
During a follow-up interview with reporters, the prime minister noted that he has already given permission for large social gatherings to happen once all people in attendance are fully vaccinated.
“We had said a long time ago that once an individual, once they are all vaccinated, they can dine inside.
“A group had written and asked whether they could have 90 individuals at a wedding.
“They were all vaccinated. All 90 were vaccinated.
“And our response was, ‘Carry on. You all are vaccinated.’
“Then, they wrote back a week later and asked if they could have a Junkanoo group rush through to provide music for the wedding.
“I said, ‘If they are all vaccinated, carry on.’
“So, what we’re basically saying is we want to open the country. So, we can have a vaccinated day where you can have happy hour. We’re all vaccinated, carry on, enjoy yourself.”
Minnis said additional vaccination perks will be announced when he speaks in the House of Assembly this week.
“Ten o’clock is a bit limited,” said the prime minister, referring to the curfew on New Providence.
“I know you young people don’t like 10 p.m. I’ll address that on Thursday.”
Davis said it is clear that Minnis has no plan, and again recommended widespread COVID-19 testing to fight back the virus.
“This here again speaks to the hypocrisy of the prime minister and the fact that he is just continually shooting from the hip, no plan,” he said.
“And it also speaks to the fact that … the conditions that he is implementing are not based in science.
“I have already said and continue to say that the scientists have already identified the best tools to avoid contracting the disease and spreading the disease.
“And you start off from the fact that you’re dealing with what I call an invisible enemy.
“And the enemy can only become visible if you test. And then once you test and discover those who are diagnosed, then you can isolate them and treat them.
“And then you do contact tracing for those persons who have been in contact and you isolate them or quarantine them.”
More than 68,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in The Bahamas. Officials reported yesterday that 50,292 first doses have been administered and 17,827 second doses. It is not clear how many people who reside in The Bahamas were vaccinated abroad.
The prime minister previously said that fully vaccinated people traveling both domestically and internationally are exempted from testing requirements.
Minnis further noted that vaccinated people will be allowed to dine indoors and work in Junkanoo shacks.