PM Minnis Address
Prime Minister the Most Honourable Dr. Hubert Minnis. (File Photo)

The Office of Prime Minister Hubert Minnis released an announcement shortly after 2pm on Friday afternoon, July 24th, 2020, advising the general public that a national weekend lockdown, applying to all islands of The Bahamas, would take effect later that evening beginning at 10pm, which would last until Monday, July 27th at 5am.

This communication came just hours before a scheduled 6pm national press conference, where Prime Minister Minnis revealed further details of emergency measures being reinstated in light of the rapid increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases within the country.

“Health officials have made a series of recommendations to control and reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Prime Minister Minnis, as he began his remarks during the Friday evening press conference, and continued, “These include a wide range of measures, including but not limited to the closure of domestic borders, discontinuing indoor and outdoor dining, restricting social gatherings, weekend lockdowns and a full national lockdown.

“After much consideration, we have determined a way forward that takes into account the grave health crisis and the need to provide economic survival.  Public health officials are closely monitoring indicators to determine whether more or less stringent measures will be required going forward.  The major indicators include the increase in the number of cases, the increase in the number of hospitalizations and the availability of ICU beds.

“Starting tonight at 10 o’clock a weekend lockdown will be implemented for all islands of The Bahamas… Grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations will be allowed to operate for the public during this weekend’s lockdown from 7am to 6pm.  During a lockdown, unless you are an identified essential worker, you may not leave your place of residence for any purpose other than to seek urgent medical care or to purchase food or medicine.  You may exercise within your immediate property only.

“Essential workers will be permitted to provide critical services, including the National Food Distribution Task Force and other NGOs for food distribution purposes.

“We will remove weekend lockdowns and other restrictions on an island by island basis.

“To be clear, construction will be allowed to continue this weekend, including reconstruction on the island of Abaco and its cays.  The transportation of inter-island freight may continue.  Persons collecting freight must seek approval from the Royal Bahamas Police Force hotline on their respective islands.

“Funerals that were planned for this weekend may continue, but at the graveside only and limited to five people, including the officiant.  Weddings that were planned for this weekend will also be permitted with a maximum number of five people including the officiant.

“We anticipate more weekend lockdowns going forward until the health indicators suggest that it is safe to do otherwise.

“Effective Monday, July 27th, 2020, commercial activity will continue as normal on all islands of The Bahamas with the exception of Grand Bahama which is currently in a full lockdown, except as follows.  A new curfew from 7pm to 5am will be implemented, accordingly all business activity must be completed by 6pm.  Indoor and outdoor dining at all restaurants will be prohibited. Take away, curbside and delivery services will continue to be permitted.

“All congregate activities will be prohibited, including in-person religious services, sporting events, group exercise and all social gatherings.

“Funerals will be permitted at the graveside only, with a maximum number of five people including the officiant.  Weddings will also be permitted with a maximum number of five people including the officiant.

“Regarding salons, barbershops and spas, one client per service provider will be allowed in the building at a time.  Gyms will not be allowed to operate.

“Beginning Tuesday the 28th of July at 7pm, inter-island travel will be discontinued.  Before that time, all travelers returning to the Family Islands from New Providence and other islands where COVID-19 is present, will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.”

The Prime Minister also stated that early data indicated, of the Bahamians tested positive, a significant number had a travel history.  In response to this information he urged the public to be responsible as individuals, and to recognize the social responsibility to others.

“We should not allow the easing of various restrictions to lead us to do things we might regret and that might harm others,” he said, adding, “I want to make a very strong plea to Bahamians and residents considering or planning to travel overseas for nonessential travel — to not go overseas at this time.

“If you are thinking of travelling for non-essential or non-emergency reasons, please, I beg you, stay at home at this time.  Please stay at home!  A number of the cities and areas Bahamians and residents like to frequent in neighboring countries and cities are experiencing a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases.  Many of these are hotspots where this very contagious virus is widespread.

“If you travel to these areas and go to malls, shops, restaurants and other establishments you might catch the virus.  You could bring the virus home and community spread could start again.

“Let me be as clear as I can: Your actions can damage the health of others and your actions could help worsen our economy if we have to lockdown again.”

As of Friday evening, July 24th, 2020, health officials had confirmed a total of 316 COVID-19 cases in the Bahamas, since the beginning of the pandemic, with 212 of those cases being confirmed since the reopening of the country’s international borders at the beginning of July 2020.

Ministry of Health Dashboard - 24th July, 2020