Prime Minister Minnis: ‘We are living in a new normal’

PM announces reduced curfew, and re-opening of Family Islands, non-essential retail and worship services

The Bahamas has now moved into Phase 3 of the Government’s gradual economic and social re-opening plan, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis announced today, 28 May, in the House of Assembly.

The Prime Minister said the current accumulation of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas show a slowing or a flattening of the epidemiological curve. The Bahamas has recorded 100 confirmed cases as of 28 May. A confirmed case of the coronavirus has not been recorded since 23 May.

“Because we are making progress we are moving into Phase 3 of the re-opening of the economy and the country,” Prime Minister Minns told MPs in his Communication on a Resolution to extend the COVID-19 state of emergency to 29 June.

“Even as we re-open, we must remember that we are living in a new normal, in which we must continue to practice physical distancing, proper sanitization and wearing masks. If we do not collectively observe these measures and community spread widens, the country may have to revert to earlier phases.”

As a part of the re-opening plan, the Prime Minister announced that all Family Islands, with the exception of New Providence, Grand Bahama and Bimini, may now resume normal commercial activity, effective Tuesday 2 June.

The 24-hour weekday curfew will be lifted for all islands, and reduced to 9pm to 5am Monday to Friday, starting Tuesday following the Whit Monday holiday. Exercise will be permitted Monday to Friday 5am – 9pm beyond one’s immediate neighbourhood.

Weekend lockdowns will remain in effect from Fridays 9pm to Mondays 5am. The hours of exercise in one’s immediate neighborhood during lockdown have been extended from 5am – 8am, to 5am to 9pm.

New Providence, Grand Bahama and Bimini may now hold worship services in the sanctuary starting Saturday 6 June following strict protocols.

All non-essential storefront businesses may operate in-store hours Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, effective 2 June, on New Providence, Grand Bahama and Bimini. This includes, furniture stores, clothing, cosmetic, jewelry and other miscellaneous retail.

Restaurants except for curbside and deliveries, bars, gyms, hair salons and barbershops, movie theaters, cultural facilities and entertainment facilities remain closed on New Providence, Grand Bahama and Bimini.

The Prime Minister assured restaurant operators, hair salons and barbershops that the Government is working with the National COVID-19 Coordinating Committee and industry to finalize protocols for operation.

Public parks and beaches are allowed open on all islands except for Bimini, Eleuthera, Exuma, Grand Bahama, Harbour Island, New Providence and Paradise Island and San Salvador, effective 2 June.

Gaming House operators may operate with physical distancing and sanitization protocols,  9am-5pm Monday to Friday, effective 2 June.

During the Whit Monday and Labour Day holidays, weekend lockdown measures will be in effect; however, food stores will be permitted to open 6am-7pm, and food takeaways and drive-thrus and restaurants providing takeaway and delivery and curbside services may operate 6am to 7:30pm.

A number of professional services may now operate with extended hours, including law firms, justices of the peace and real estate agencies until 5pm. Financial services businesses, including accounting services, may also operate 9am-5pm with physical distancing and sanitization protocols.

“Just as most Bahamians acted in the spirit of unity in the past few difficult months, we will need this same spirit to rebuild our country after one of the most unprecedented events in our lifetime,” said Prime Minister Minnis.