By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
AN Abaco administrator said impending tighter restrictions for the island will be a “painful blow” for those trying to “resurrect” their business activities after Hurricane Dorian.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced that Abaco’s recent spike in COVID-19 cases has prompted a tightening of restrictions, including a 8pm- 5am curfew, which comes into effect on Sunday.
Senior Deputy Family Island Administrator for North Abaco Terrece Bootle-Laing said her office was not given notice before the prime minister’s announcement to the media, but said the move was anticipated by some residents.
“As I expected this was not something they were looking forward to. Some would have anticipated and suspected that it was coming given the number of persons going into quarantine, businesses having to close down, and so it was anticipated.”
With the earlier curfew, it is expected there will be fewer gatherings in the evenings, which Ms Bootle-Laing said may have been “the major contributing factor to our rise in numbers”.
“The evening hours tend to be the more high social gathering time and that is what we’ve been paying attention to in terms of you know when persons begin to socialise and intermingle with each other and found persons have not been strictly adhering to (protocols) because as you move in and about and you get a lot of concerns about bar room gatherings and persons not wearing masks up to the curfew time and so we were seeing that, becoming very concerned about persons letting their guards down.”
Still, she said. the increased restrictions are not favourable to the business community.
“The business community is in recovery so this is not what is needed for their survival. For them to reduce hours, reduce economic outlook, and so it is a painful blow for those who are just trying to resurrect from Hurricane Dorian in terms of their business activities and Abaco was gradually opening up to visitors,” she explained.
“There are some businesses, especially the restaurant business, that are going to be impacted by this shut down and persons having to leave earlier and draw back on your business hours. So there are a number of businesses that will be impacted in particular the business on the cays who tend to have a more (condensed) population.”
In addition to the tighter curfew, those travelling from mainland Abaco to any other island also will be required to take a RT-PCR COVID test prior to travel in addition to following all the previous travel guidelines, it was said on Thursday.
An emergency order giving effect to the new curfew in Abaco was released on Friday. The tighter curfew will not apply to the Abaco cays.