Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis today announced that the island of Bimini will be placed under a two-week lockdown in order to slow and control the community spread of the COVID-19 virus on the island.
The lockdown will take effect Monday 18 May at 9pm until Saturday 30 May at midnight. The date will be extended to a total of 14 days when Parliament reconvenes later this month.
“This measure is absolutely necessary in order to save and to protect the lives of the residents of Bimini,” Prime Minister Minnis said in a live televised statement on Thursday 14 May.
The island has been classified as a COVID-19 hotspot by health officials.
Bimini, which has a population of approximately 2,000, has a total of 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 – the highest number outside of New Providence. The two most recent cases were confirmed by health officials on Thursday 14 May.
To date, a total of 102 Bimini residents have been swabbed for COVID-19.
During the period of April 29th to May 2nd, members of the Ministry of Health’s Surveillance Team traveled to Bimini.
The team provided education support for medical personnel; assisted with identifying contacts of confirmed cases; visited the Government quarantine facility; helped to try to enforce infection prevention and control strategies; conducted testing and hosted a virtual town hall meeting.
On that visit, 37 people were swabbed for COVID-19 and three tested positive.
“Residents are urged to make the necessary preparations,” said the Prime Minister.
Officials from the central government are collaborating with the island Administrator for food and water distribution and other considerations unique to Bimini, said Prime Minister Minnis.
The National Food Distribution Task Force and the Department of Social Services are making arrangements to ensure that food needs will be met before and during the lockdown.
The Prime Minister said the intention was to begin the lockdown earlier but because of current weather conditions, additional food and supplies and additional personnel to Bimini could not arrive sooner by marine transport.
“I assure the residents of Bimini that there will be sufficient food and medicine for everyone,” said Prime Minister Minnis.
Additional support, security and enforcement of the lockdown will be provided by the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
The Prime Minister urged the residents of Bimini to cooperate with health and other officials to prepare for the lockdown and to adhere to measures over the next two weeks.
Under the Bimini Lockdown Order released on Thursday, every agency, business or establishment must remain closed except for the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Clinic for purposes of treating patients in need of emergency care.
However healthcare workers may conduct home visits to members of the public to provide medical or therapeutic care; a public healthcare worker may attend the Clinic to treat patients in need of urgent medical care; and the island Administrator is permitted to distribute food and water on behalf of the Government of the Natoinal Food Distribution Task Force.
No person is allowed to leave their residence unless they fall under the categories specifically outlined in the Bimini Lockdown Order, or to seek urgent medical care.
Any person who contravenes the Bimini Lockdown Order could face a fine of up to $10,000 or 18 months imprisonment or both.
In the event of an emergency Bimini residents should call 311 or the nearest police station to request permission to leave their residence.
“A lockdown like this is not something that would have been preferred,” said the Prime Minister. “But it is absolutely necessary because things will get much worse on Bimini if we don’t take this strong measure now.”