Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
ANOTHER nationwide lockdown will begin at 9pm on Wednesday and last until 5am next Tuesday as the country fights the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced in the House of Assembly on Monday.
“We will experience five days of pain, but a lifetime of resolution,” he said.
He said such strong measures are needed because some people did not listen to warnings to take the COVID-19 threat seriously. Health officials, he said, need time to identify super-spreaders of the virus who may be asymptomatic.
He also warned that the increase in unemployment as a result of economic fallout from the disease will be “tremendous and greater than most of us have seen in our lifetime.”
Dr Minnis acknowledged the five-day lockdown could be especially painful for poor people who may not have a stock of food supplies.
“Growing up in the inner city,” he said, “our grocery shopping pattern was somewhat different from the average person. One day (we would) go to the supermarket and buy one onion and one tomato, may also buy one can of corned beef and a bag of rice. That might last for a day. The following day we may return and buy one onion, a loaf of Purity bread, a pound or two of sausage and one can of tomato paste. That would last one day again. The point I’m driving here is it’s very difficult for the poor individual who is accustomed to shopping just one day at a time and (has) no form of storage or savings. “(However) this is essential because there is what we call a ‘super-spreader.’
“The lockdown means you may not leave the confines of your property for any reason, unless there is an emergency or unless you are working in an entity which will be specifically named, or identified by the function being performed, in the lockdown order,” he added.
Dr Minnis said the 24-hour curfew with exemptions for some essential services and activities will resume on April 14 and continue for the remainder of April. However, the complete shutdown will happen every weekend for the rest of this month.
Exempted groups from the complete lockdown include essential workers at hospitals, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the media, security services, hotels with guests, emergency units of core publicly and privately owned public utilities that provide electricity, water and telecommunication services and a “strictly limited number of excepted undertakings, such as international import/export trade,” he said.
He also encouraged residents to wear non-medical masks in public, stressing that only frontline medical workers should wear “health masks”. He urged retail stores or people with stocks of medical masks to contact the Ministry of Health to donate them, “as the sale of any medical masks to the general public will at some time be prohibited."
For more on this story, see Tuesday’s Tribune.