The Government will seek the approval of Parliament for one final extension of the Emergency Orders, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis announced in an address to the nation on Tuesday evening.
Following approval by Parliament, the Emergency Orders will end 13 November 2021, said the Prime Minister.
“This will be the last extension of these Orders,” he said.
The Prime Minister said it was the intention of the Government, that depending on the state of the pandemic, a move would be made toward concluding the use of the Emergency Orders this month and to transition to a new legislative framework as more Bahamians were vaccinated.
The surge in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths has required the Government to temporarily adjust plans to immediately save Bahamian lives and to protect the economy, said Prime Minister Minnis.
“My Government has set a plan to further combat this wave and to transition the country to a new post-Emergency Orders regime after this deadly surge subsides,” said the Prime Minister.
“As a result of the arrival soon of new vaccine supplies, we will be able to begin the transition process away from the Emergency Orders.”
The Prime Minister said that when the House of Assembly meets on Tuesday, 10 August, he will table, for consultation, the new proposed legal regime for The Bahamas with the end of the Emergency Orders.
The Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Management Bill, 2021 will be tabled for widespread public consultation.
“This is only a draft. It is not the final Bill. We will table it for consultation because we want your advice and your feedback,” said Prime Minister Minnis.
“We seek the advice of the Official Opposition. We would like the input of the religious community, businesses, NGOs, labor unions, other organizations and individuals so we can make the legislation more representative before final passage and enactment.”
The Prime Minister said the Government used legal measures put in place for emergency periods to create public health rules and social measures to protect and to save Bahamian lives and livelihoods.
Regarding the supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, the Prime Minister said the Government has concluded negotiations to bring in a substantial number of new vaccines.
He said that with these new doses and the vaccine supply already received, over the next few months The Bahamas will have the capacity to vaccinate all Bahamians and residents who wish to receive the vaccine.
The Government will continue to work, day in and day out to make vaccines available to everyone who wants to be vaccinated and will continue to provide medical and scientific information to help members of the public make a decision, said Prime Minister Minnis.
To date, more than 109,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in The Bahamas.
The Prime Minister emphasized that the Government will not make vaccines mandatory.
To help control and slow the spread of COVID-19, the Prime Minister also announced new curfew hours; for New Providence and Grand Bahama, from 9pm to 5am, and on mainland Exuma and mainland Abaco, from 10pm to 5am.
“The curfews will be strictly enforced, and enforcement is being increased,” said Prime Minister Minnis.