Grand Bahama will be placed on a two-week lockdown starting Thursday 23 July at 7pm to Friday 7 August at 5am in an effort to slow and control the community spread of COVID-19 on the island, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis announced on Tuesday.
As of Monday 20 July, health officials had confirmed a total of 59 cases of COVID-19 on Grand Bahama. Fifty-one of those cases have been recorded since the borders fully re-opened on 1 July. Outside of New Providence, Grand Bahama now has the largest number of recorded cases in The Bahamas.
“This measure is absolutely necessary in order to save and to protect the lives of the residents of Grand Bahama,” the Prime Minister said in a statement carried live from the Cabinet Office.
“Epidemiological management of the COVID-19 outbreak in Grand Bahama requires strict adherence to shelter in place to prevent and to control the spread, which will worsen if preventative measures are not taken quickly and adhered to.”
When the Prime Minister addressed the nation on Sunday 19 July, he indicated that if efforts to decreases the number of cases were unsuccessful, other restrictive measures may be recommended, including a lockdown beginning Friday 24 July.
However, he said yesterday that based on the advice of health officials and the confirmation of 20 new cases of COVID-19 on Grand Bahama on Monday, the decision was made to increase restrictive measures as soon as practicable.
Ahead of the lockdown, domestic flights and vessels in and out of Grand Bahama were stopped as of 6pm Tuesday, 21 July. International flights in and out of Grand Bahama will be prohibited starting Wednesday 22 July at midnight.
During the lockdown, food stores will be allowed to operate Monday to Friday from 7am to 5pm, to the general public.
Pharmacies, water depots and gas stations will be allowed to operate Monday to Friday from 7am to 1pm for the general public.
The Grand Bahama Humane Society and waste disposal and sanitation companies will be permitted to open Monday to Friday 7am to 1pm for the general public.
Food stores, pharmacies, gas stations and water depots will be allowed to operate on Saturdays 7am to 5pm for essential workers only.
Construction activity related to hurricane restoration and hurricane preparedness will be permitted.
Religious services may be held virtually, only.
Funerals may be held but at the graveside only, with a maximum number of 10 people, including the officiant.
Residents should not leave your homes during the week unless they have to purchase food, water, medicine or for some other essential purpose, or are an essential worker.
During Saturdays and Sundays, a complete lockdown will be in place. Residents should not leave their homes for any purpose, unless you are an essential worker or in the case of an emergency.
The National Food Distribution Task Force and the Department of Social Services are making arrangements to ensure that food needs will be met during the lockdown, said the Prime Minister.
It is anticipated that food vouchers will be distributed to 14,000 residents.
“A lockdown like this is not something that would have been preferred,” said Prime Minister Minnis.
“But it is absolutely necessary because things will get much worse on Grand Bahama if we don’t take this strong measure now.”