Press Remarks – 24 July, 2020

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Health officials have made a series of recommendations to control and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

These include a wide range of measures, including but not limited to the closure of domestic borders, discontinuing indoor and outdoor dining, restricting social gatherings, weekend lockdowns and a full national lockdown.

After much consideration, we have determined a way forward that takes into account the grave health crisis and the need to provide economic survival.  

Public health officials are closely monitoring indicators to determine whether more or less stringent measures will be required going forward.  

The major indicators include the increase in the number of cases, the increase in the number of hospitalizations and the availability of ICU beds.  

Starting tonight at 10 o’clock a weekend lockdown will be implemented for all islands of The Bahamas, excluding Grand Bahama which is currently in lockdown.

Grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations will be allowed to operate for the public during this weekend’s lockdown from 7am to 6pm. 

During a lockdown, unless you are an identified essential worker, you may not leave your place of residence for any purpose other than to seek urgent medical care or to purchase food or medicine.  

You may exercise within your immediate property only. 

Essential workers will be permitted to provide critical services, including the National Food Distribution Task Force and other NGOs for food distribution purposes. 

We will remove weekend lockdowns and other restrictions on an island by island basis.

To be clear, construction will be allowed to continue this weekend, including reconstruction on the island of Abaco and its cays. 

The transportation of inter-island freight may continue. Persons collecting freight must seek approval from the Royal Bahamas Police Force hotline on their respective islands.

Funerals that were planned for this weekend may continue, but at the graveside only and limited to five people, including the officiant.  

Weddings that were planned for this weekend will also be permitted with a maximum number of five people including the officiant. 

We anticipate more weekend lockdowns going forward until the health indicators suggest that it is safe to do otherwise.

Effective Monday 27 July 2020, commercial activity will continue as normal on all islands of The Bahamas with the exception of Grand Bahama which is currently in a full lockdown, except as follows. 

A new curfew from 7pm to 5am will be implemented, accordingly all business activity must be completed by 6pm.

Indoor and outdoor dining at all restaurants will be prohibited. Take away, curbside and delivery services will continue to be permitted.  

All congregate activities will be prohibited, including in-person religious services, sporting events, group exercise and all social gatherings.

Funerals will be permitted at the graveside only, with a maximum number of five people including the officiant. 

Weddings will also be permitted with a maximum number of five people including the officiant.

Regarding salons, barbershops and spas, one client per service provider will be allowed in the building at a time.

Gyms will not be allowed to operate.

Beginning Tuesday the 28th of July at 7pm, inter-island travel will be discontinued. 

Before that time, all travelers returning to the Family Islands from New Providence and other islands where COVID-19 is present, will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We are fighting a battle on two fronts. 

All of us must hold the line together. 

The fight for the health and lives of our citizens comes first and foremost. 

At the same time we are fighting on the economic for the financial security of every family.  

The reality is we will rebuild our economy and will recover fully. 

As a country we must grow stronger together, protect each other and hold out for us all.  

We will advance, but now we must hold a strong line and never retreat from fighting this disease.  

We think actions taken by the Government have been constitutional and in the best interest of Bahamians. 

We have exercised the lawful powers given under the constitution and laws of The Bahamas.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

     Early data indicate that of the Bahamians tested positive, a significant number had a travel history.

We blame the problems we face on the virus. 

The virus disrupted our way of life and caused sickness and death. 

And it has done so around the world. 

It is up to us as citizens, Government and as businesses to do all we can to minimize spread.

This is a fast developing crisis. 

We make decisions multiple times a day to protect Bahamians. 

We learn from what we did right and wrong. 

As we learn from what did not work, we pivot and change course. 

We will make the tough decisions necessary to protect Bahamians. 

We will put in place the best measures to protect Bahamians. 

And if they are not working, we will alter them to improve the situation.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

In my National Address on June 28th I said to you:

We must be responsible as individuals.  

But we also have a social responsibility to others. 

We should not allow the easing of various restrictions to lead us to do things we might regret and that might harm others.

I want to make a very strong plea to Bahamians and residents considering or planning to travel overseas for nonessential travel — to not go overseas at this time.

If you are thinking of travelling for non-essential or emergency reasons, please, I beg you, stay at home at this time.

Please stay at home!

A number of the cities and areas Bahamians and residents like to frequent in neighboring countries and cities are experiencing a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases.

Many of these are hotspots where this very contagious virus is widespread.

If you travel to these areas and go to malls, shops, restaurants and other establishments you might catch the virus.

You could bring the virus home and community spread could start again.

Let me be as clear as I can:  Your actions can damage the health of others and your actions could help worsen our economy if we have to lockdown again.

A report on CNN today noted:

“… Even countries lauded for their fast and effective responses to Covid-19 are seeing large outbreaks and resurgences of the infection, as it becomes clear that successes in containing the virus are often only temporary.”

This is why we are taking these measures today.

My greatest duty is to save and to protect the Bahamian people.

I continue to ask for your prayers, advice and cooperation.

And let us pray together and ask our God for guidance.