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Zero tolerance

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday warned business owners that their establishments will be closed should they not be in compliance with mandates for social distancing.

“An individual who breaks our laws, be it for money, greed or anything else, we will deal with them appropriately,” the prime minister said on the floor of the House of Assembly as he tabled a proclamation for a new state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were numerous reports and social media posts of crowded parties at clubs and packed restaurants over the weekend after the prime minister, in his role as the competent authority, reduced the hours for the national curfew and allowed indoor dining at restaurants for the first time since a state of emergency was declared in The Bahamas.

Minnis said he is aware of at least three businesses – one nightclub in eastern New Providence and two restaurants in western New Providence – that have had issues already.

“I don’t want to call any restaurant or nightclub names, but that particular nightclub in the east knows who I’m talking about,” the prime minister said.

“Be assured if we see that happening again, what has happened just recently, they will be dealt with properly.

“And the same message goes out to the two restaurants in the west. I need not call their names, but one is east of me and one is west of me and I live in Tropical Gardens. They know who they are.

“And if they continue to behave in that manner, they too will be closed because we will not tolerate breaking our laws to place our citizens in danger, our healthcare system in danger and possibly the collapse of our entire healthcare system where individuals with simple headaches would not be able to see a doctor because we’re utilizing all of our services to deal with COVID matters.

“We will not allow that to happen.”

In late March, as COVID-19 cases began to increase in The Bahamas, the government took quick action to implement a 24-hour curfew and weekend shutdowns.

As the country enters the final phase of its reopening plan, a nightly 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew remains in place, with most businesses having been allowed to reopen in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

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