Prime Minister Minnis - 2020-2021 Budget Contribution.
Prime Minister Minnis – 2020-2021 Budget Contribution.

During his 2020/2021 Budget Address in the House of Assembly on Monday morning, June 22nd, 2020, Prime Minister The Most Honourable Dr. Hubert Minnis began with an update on the status of COVID-19 Emergency Orders and Policies going forward into July.  The excerpt reads as follows:

“We are entering Phase 5 of our phased reopening.

The Emergency Powers are to be extended through the month of July 2020.

Effective today, Monday, 22 June 2020, curfew hours are to be amended to 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Businesses may now operate until 8 p.m.

I wish to reiterate that PCR COVID-19 negative tests, and completed health forms will be required of all visitors, Bahamians and residents entering or returning to The Bahamas.  These PCR COVID-19 tests have to be taken within a 7 – 10 day window before travel to The Bahamas.  An exception to require a negative PCR COVID-19 test will be made for short travel periods of 72 hours or less for Bahamians and residents.  However, upon return to The Bahamas these individuals may have to be quarantined for 14 days based on a determination by the Ministry of Health.

Indoor eating at restaurants will be allowed with physical distancing required, sanitization, and mask wearing by all staff at all times, and patrons when entering and exiting the establishment. Maximum seating will be based on 50 percent occupancy, meaning 30 square feet per person.

Vendors at Arawak Cay may continue outdoor dining, but are not permitted for indoor dining at this time.

Roadside vendors will be standardized to ensure that proper structures, hygiene and sanitization protocols are in place.

Effective Wednesday, 1 July, 2020, gyms and outdoor group exercise may reopen with health safety protocols approved by the Ministry of Health. Spas may reopen with health safety protocols approved by Ministry of Health.

I also wish to announce the opening of public parks and beaches on New Providence, Paradise Island, Grand Bahama and Bimini, effective Monday, 29th June, 2020.  Gatherings greater than five people are prohibited.

Funeral services in a church or religious facility may be held with numbers based on the physical distancing protocols established for Saturday/Sunday services.  The graveside parts of the services are however, still limited to thirty people, with physical distancing and masks.  There is no need to apply to the Competent Authority for funeral services.

Weddings may be held with numbers based on the physical distancing protocols established for Saturday/Sunday services.  There is no need to apply to the Competent Authority.

Social gatherings in private facilities and homes may be held with up to 20 or less individuals, with physical distancing, sanitization, and mask wearing.

Effective Wednesday, 1st July, 2020, taxi services may resume based on guidelines in the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation’s, Bahamas Tourism Readiness & Recovery Plan.

Private and public bus services may resume, with 50 percent occupancy based on guidelines in the Ministry of Tourism’s Bahamas Tourism Readiness & Recovery Plan, effective Wednesday, 1st July, 2020.  Establishments, taxi and bus owners are to be held responsible for (i.) letting mask-less patrons enter their respective establishments and (ii.) ensuring that occupancy is limited to enable physical distancing.

If the requirements to wear masks and physical distance are not adhered to by patrons because the owner failed to enforce the requirements, a fine is to be applied to the establishment owner.  A second violation will lead to a second fine at a higher quantum. A third violation will lead to a temporary closing of the facility until Health Officials can be satisfied that the continued operations of the establishment would not pose a health risk to the community.

Mr. Speaker:
I understand the burdens of the lockdown on many of our citizens and how difficult it has been to practice physical distancing in some households.

Basic matters such as the cost of acquiring the right kind of masks and the need to clean and sanitize them regularly has been a burden to some depending on their circumstances.  But I assure the Bahamian people and residents that the wearing of masks has saved lives and protected our health.

As we continue to come out of the lockdown period, let us not allow this new sense of freedom to overcome the discipline that we displayed up to now with regard to social distancing, regular hand washing and mask wearing.  We cannot squander the results of the hard work that we undertook as a community. We have seen what we can accomplish when we work together.

Mr. Speaker:
As the world and The Bahamas reopen their economies, societies and borders, there will inevitably be an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases within and across borders.  Just as with the other nations of the world, The Bahamas must continue to balance health, economic and social concerns in order to ensure the viability and sustainability of our countries.

During our phased and gradual reopening we have repeatedly emphasized the need for everyone to do their part.  The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. There is no vaccine as yet.

The wearing of facial masks is absolutely necessity and has significantly helped to reduce the spread of the virus at home and around the world.  We must all do our part and be personally responsible by wearing our masks, maintaining physical distance and washing and sanitizing our hands thoroughly and often.

Employers and business must help by ensuring that health measures are followed by employees and customers.

Those who feel unwell should stay at home.  Those who are over a certain age should limit the time they spend away from home.  We still have to be careful and vigilant as we reopen.

We should not be complacent.  We will continue to enforce health care measures, but government cannot do this alone.  We are still in this together. The need for social solidarity and concern for others is as absolutely necessary as ever.  I beseech and implore the Bahamian people to act in a spirit of love and unity as we continue to face the many ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19.

We still have a long and difficult road ahead.”

See summary link of key policy updates here: Prime Minister’s Report Covid 19 Update – The Bahamas

Bahamas Information Systems