The Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations, 2020 will put in place the legal powers for the Government to respond quickly and decisively to the COVID-19 crisis, said Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis.
Prime Minister Minnis outlined the major components of the Regulations in the House of Assembly on Wednesday 18 March.
The Regulations, along with the Emergency Proclamation issued by the Governor General on Tuesday 17 March, will give the Government the necessary and emergency powers to aggressively combat COVID-19, the Prime Minister told MPs.
Two additional cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in New Providence late Tuesday evening. The individuals were identified through contact tracing, said Prime Minister Minnis.
This brings to three the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in The Bahamas.
“The Ministry of Health’s surveillance unit has aggressively undertaken contact tracing activities for the initial case reported,” said the Prime Minister.
“These contact tracing investigations have revealed that household members of the COVID-19 positive patient traveled to jurisdictions with known community transmission – Canada, Trinidad and Dubai.”
The household contacts have been quarantined and samples taken for testing. Other contacts, including healthcare providers, are being investigated to determine their level of exposure and risk, said the Prime Minister.
A total of 30 contacts of the COVID-19 positive patients have been identified, he said.
The Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations, 2020, was passed in the House of Assembly on Wednesday 18 March and empower the state in areas of health, social distancing, self-isolation, curfews, requisition of property and essential services, and procurement of goods and services.
The emergency regulations also address the dissemination of false news.
Under the order, “no person shall publish or cause to be published, posted or re-posted over any media platform, inclusive of social media, any purported news or report or purported statement of fact, knowing or having reasonable cause to suspect the same is: untrue or false; or may incite public fear or ethnic hatred.”
Out of an abundance of caution, said the Prime Minister, a provision exists in the regulations by which the Governor General may authorize international or regional military or police forces as may be requested by the Government to serve as peace officers and assist in:
- the storage, safe keeping or distribution of relief supplies;
- the provision of any essential services, and;
- the maintenance of public order.
“Some of these provisions may be invoked. Some may not,” said Prime Minister Minnis.
“We have brought forward these regulations to have the legal powers necessary at hand to respond quickly and decisively to this crisis.”