PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis tabled Governor General CA Smith’s new proclamation of emergency orders in the House of Assembly yesterday and stressed there has been no discontinuity in the enforcement of his COVID-19 emergency regulations.
“Many individuals who would’ve felt that the lockdown and emergency orders may not have been in place yesterday, I want to reassure them there was no breakdown in the continuity of the orders,” he said.
However, when opposition leader Philip “Brave” Davis tried to comment on the tabling of the order, he was denied the chance to do so, prompting fury and shouts from opposition members and FNM Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine.
House Speaker Halson Moultrie demanded that Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin withdraw from the chamber for “creating a disturbance and using unparliamentary language”. Although he beckoned to an officer, Mrs Hanna Martin remained in the chamber until the sitting was suspended for the day.
Meanwhile, Dr Minnis said he will address COVID-19 more substantially in a future parliamentary speech.
He revealed that Atlantis has delayed its opening until July 30, due to rising cases in the United States.
The nation’s leader also spoke out against business establishments who have been visibly disregarding social distancing rules.
“I do not want to call any restaurant or nightclubs’ names but that particularly nightclub in the east know whom I’m speaking about and be assured if we see that happening again what has happened just recently they will be be dealt with properly and the same message goes out to restaurants in the west,” he said.
“I need not call their names but they know one is east of me and one is west of me and I live (in) Tropical, so one is to my left and one is to my right and if they continue to behave in that manner they too will be closed because we will not tolerate breaking our laws to place our citizens in danger, our healthcare system in danger and possibly collapse of our entire healthcare system where individuals with simple headaches will not be able to see a simple doctor because we are utilising all our systems to deal with COVID matters and individuals who break our laws be it for money, greed or anything else, we will deal with them appropriately.”
Even though a COVID-19 curfew remains in place, the country is pressing forward with the resumption of international travel today as COVID-19 cases surge in the United States. The European Union, which is moving towards its reopening, has banned travellers from the US.
“We’re all aware of what’s happening in the United States of America,” Dr Minnis said. “We’re seeing many states’ surge continue, infections continue, hospitals are being maximised to the state of being overran and should that happen here you could imagine or recognise that this particular time, especially our Family Islands as COVID-free, we must do everything in our powers to ensure that don’t happen in The Bahamas.”
He again urged Bahamians to wear masks.
“I want to point out that Bahamians must understand the great significance of wearing a mask… and in fact we now see that many states within the US and countries are making the wearing of masks mandatory and in fact, like we have, are introducing fines and one particular state has introduced a fine as high as $1,000 if masks are not worn. It’s essential to wear these as they protect not only the individual but all those around them also.
“We’re taking this matter very, very serious and we continue to ask our people and those who visit our shores that it is mandatory within The Bahamas to wear facial masks and wear it properly and, should they not, it’s a fine of $200 or one month in prison or both… I want to inform this Parliament and country that Cabinet has just recently agreed one hour ago to the establishment of a COVID enforcement unit where individuals will be traversing not only New Providence but the entire Bahamas aided or assisted by the police force and relevant agencies.”
On Monday, Attorney General Carl Bethel apologised after his office failed to deliver a resolution extending Dr Minnis’ emergency orders in time for last week’s sitting of the House of Assembly, causing the Governor General’s original proclamation of emergency to end at midnight.
The Governor General nonetheless signed a new proclamation of emergency on Monday evening in time for the COVID-19 curfew and restrictions to remain in place when the previous proclamation expired.