All airports, private shall be closed to intl. flights
All seaports closed to regional and intl. seafaring and private boats
No visitor permitted to enter or disembark
All public beaches, roads closed
NASSAU, BAHAMAS —Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced a 24-hour curfew and border shutdown among additional measures that expand emergency powers regulations introduced last week to prevent the local spread of COVID-19.
Minnis unveiled a ‘shelter in place’ order that will effect the closure of roads to non-essential travel, and a total restriction on social activities tomorrow at 9am.
He said many Bahamians were not taking the global pandemic, which he called “an enemy to our livelihood”, seriously enough.
All airports, sea ports are closed to incoming regional or international traffic or visitors.
Public beaches and markets like the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay and Potters Cay Dock have been closed.
In an impassioned plea for Bahamians to heed advisories, Minnis said: “None of us are invincible.”
“Our personal and collective behavior is the best way to fight this threat,” he continued.
“Do not invite people over to your homes to socialize. Do not hang out with friends. Do not have house parties. If you do not heed the warnings, you could catch this virus.
“It could kill you,” Minnis said.
“You could spread it to your friends and families and it could kill them too.”
The new measures will remain in effect until March 31, unless extended.
There are four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country. As of Sunday, the national lab had tested some 117 people.
“While the emergency orders are difficult for some, it is better to do what we need to do now, rather than paying a greater and heavier price later,” Minnis said during his national address.
“As a small island nation we cannot afford to lose 800 individuals on any one given day. It is essential we adhere to the measures being implemented tomorrow.”
He was referring to the death toll in Europe – where the worst hit countries have reported as many as 800 deaths in one day.
“In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID 19, every person shall remain confined to their place of residence (inclusive of their yard space) to avoid contact outside of their family except essential workers and travel.”
Minnis said restrictions did not apply to outgoing cargo flights or commercial cargo flights, or emergency medical flights, or emergency flights approved by Civil Aviation.
Visits to doctor, grocery store, bank, pharmacy or to refuel are considered essential travel.
“For outdoor exercise, whether alone or together with family members living under the same roof, not exceeding an hour and a half per day between the hours of 5:00 a.m. to 9 p.m. Provided that such person must ensure at all times to distance himself at least six feet (6ft.) from any such person.”
An ‘essential worker” includes: Royal Bahamas Police Force, Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Fire Services, Department of Correctional Services, National insurance Board, Department of Social Services, Department of Environmental Health Services: Department of Immigration; Customs Department, waste and sanitation companies; any hospital, health care or medical facility.
Essential workers also include: essential officers of any water, electricity or other sector encompassing the provision of electronic communications including print and electronic media.
All establishments open during this time are mandated to ensure that all customers and staff maintain physical distancing of no less than six feet in or outside their business.
The number of persons permitted in the establishment at any one time is one person for every thirty square feet of store space, Minnis said.
All establishments are required to set up distance markers to indicate social distancing at check out lines and outside the building, within 24 hours of the order.
“Let me note that supermarkets will be encouraged to designate a specific shopping time for seniors, from 9am to 11am daily,” Minnis said.
“Owners will also be strongly encouraged to enforce physical distancing inside and outside their establishments.”
Minnis announced a National Day of Prayer and Fasting on Wednesday as he called for prayers for “our country and for those on the frontlines of this battle, which includes, pharmacists, teachers, caregivers, store clerks, utility workers, small-business owners and employees”.
He appealed for the country not to lose hope.
“Compassion has not been cancelled,” he said.
“Generosity has not been cancelled. Gratitude has not been canceled. Hope has not been cancelled. Nor have resilience and courage and the spirit of The Bahamian people.
“None of these have been cancelled,” he said.
“We will win this battle through courage, through generosity of spirit and with a resilience, that no hurricane, no virus, no economic threat and no enemy can defeat.
“Our God reigns.”