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Why close down islands with no recorded cases?

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

FAMILY Island restauranteurs like Dwight Hart are frustrated with the one-size-fits-all COVID-19 restrictions that will force him to shutter his business for two weeks even though Exuma only has three confirmed cases of the virus.

Mr Hart told The Tribune he burned through his emergency reserves to keep himself and his employees afloat during the last lockdown period and does not have the finances to pay staff for the next two weeks.

His restaurant, the YOLO Grill and Hookah Bar, is attached to the Exuma Palms Hotel and employs ten people.

“I’m not clear on the position of my business,” he said yesterday as the country awaited release of the new emergency powers order. “If we have to close that means we will be sending staff home for two weeks. We’re going to have guests in hotel because we have some folks who are working on the road project who are staying with us and a part of the contract means feeding them so I assume we will be allowed to do that. But that’s a very small percentage of what it takes for us to stay in business. There’s no way I’m going to carry employees for two weeks. It is going to be heartbreaking to tell people they are probably going to look at two weeks of unpaid leave and very limited work.”

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said the nationwide lockdown will be reassessed in two weeks, fuelling complaints of Family Island residents who want different treatment from COVID-19 hotspots like New Providence and Grand Bahama.

“I’m challenged to understand why we’re still locking down the entire country when, as far as we’ve been told, there’s not rapid cases running loose in Exuma,” Mr Hart said. “It’s kind of confusing. Why does Exuma, Long Island, Ragged Island, Rum Cay, any other island have to be going through the same severe restrictions as an island like Grand Bahama and New Providence that we know have been having positive cases for the last two weeks? We’re right back to square one where we don’t have clarity as to the mechanisms behind the scene that determines why it’s necessary for the entire country, every little rock and cay, to go through these very restrictive measures again.

“I certainly couldn’t sustain another long lockdown period. I’m at the end of my rope as it relates to emergency resources. I’m right back to having anxiety levels go through the roof when I thought I put that behind me. And again, without having any specific timeline is making it even worse. It’s very difficult to be in business as this stage in the game. I could only imagine how it is for people who didn’t have that particular luxury of having emergency funds to get through the first period and now have to look at doing this again. The casualties in business if we don’t get out of this soon will be high.”

Mr Hart said he does not yet have to think about closing down permanently, a fact he admits leaves him “with a lot of trepidation.”

“I could be out of business,” he said. “We just came through a hurricane which thank God we didn’t have a lot of damage. Just think if we were to get another storm during this period that can actually do physical damage. After having used all your cushion to keep people employed during the last few months, it’s really, really scary.”

Meanwhile, Lauren Eldon, the manager of the Green Parrot restaurant in New Providence, said business this year has declined by sixty to seventy percent.

“It’s not good for us,” she said yesterday. “It was difficult getting through the first lockdown. We worked hard to get everything up and running and follow all the rules that were put in place. We brought back 95 percent of our staff, now we get shut down again.”

Ms Eldon said Green Parrot staff will again be placed on temporary leave and have to get money through the government unemployment assistance programme.

“Most staff already gone through their NIB unemployment benefits,” she said. “We have a somewhat large property and to open up outdoor dining and to open inside when they allowed us, that was costly. We were doing pretty well when we took indoor and outdoor dining.”

She said: “I do believe we will eventually get back up and running. It depends on how long this continues to go on for. If they continue to do constant lockdowns that’s when it gets a little bit scary. It depends on how long they keep doing this because now we’re back to losing money every month.”

Comments

stillwaters 2 years ago

We Bahamians have been demanding and demanding that we all be treated fairly and equally.......we do not want one group to be treated with more advantages than others.....sooooo....what's the beef with one size fits all now?????!!

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WETHEPEOPLE 2 years ago

Because its complete nonsense to disrupt the welling being of citizens when u dont have to. All this govt is doing is killing the economy. I assure you we soon reach the point of no return

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mandela 2 years ago

Hey, Mr. in-competent authority according to Johnny Osbourne the reggae singer from the 80s, you're acting like a yo-yo baby you need to settle down, you're acting like a yo-yo PM you need to get a plan.

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sheeprunner12 2 years ago

Andros, Long Island, Eleuthera, San Salvador, Ragged & Rum Cay and MICAL have NO Covid19 cases ......... Mr PM, what crimes have we committed to be locked down AGAIN????....... We can be up and running and making money for the empty Treasury

Dwight Hart lives in Exuma with 3 Covid cases ........... The ones I have named have ZERO. But not one interview from those islands.

PM, that is SEVEN angry constituencies right now ................ You may need them in 2022.

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Porcupine 2 years ago

I live on a Family Island that has no recorded cases of Covid. When it does come here it will be like a wildfire. It seems many people here believe it is a hoax. While the restrictions on many businesses do not make any sense at all, like shortening shopping days and times, I am quite fearful of the attitude presented here. Many people, just because they spent a few years here as a youth, or their parents or grandparents were from here, believe it is their right to come right from Grand Bahama or Nassau and blend right in, no concerns to self quarantine, masks or social distancing. This attitude is what will kill people, directly. The inability to critically think, and to have no concern for the welfare of others is too common. This attitude can be classified as nothing less than anti-social, anti-Christian, and wholly irresponsible, not to mention criminal. While I feel that the less intrusion on the part of the government is best. What happens when you have a large part of the population that just doesn't seem to "get it". Not only not get it, but simply don't give a shit? What should be our response when we see people who are directly endangering our lives? Shrug it off, as we do with the all so prevalent attitude that is wholly self centered and narcissistic? It is hard to classify this immature, uneducated and selfish worldview as just and decent. Are all the islands in The Bahamas of similar habits?

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stillwaters 2 years ago

There are hard headed people on every island

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tribanon 2 years ago

No one has a head harder than yours, or more empty for that matter.

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johnmcntsh 2 years ago

It is a very simple formula. Do you want death or a strong economy.

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geostorm 2 years ago

If you open up the other islands while New Providence and Grand Bahama are closed, what do you think will happen? A bunch of selfish people will leave these islands and head to those islands, putting everyone at risk. Those family islands can not afford community spread. If you think, there are no supplies and infrastructure in the capital.....goodness the Family Islands are a joke.

Dwight, relax yourself! You do not want an outbreak of this crap in your community. You think it's hard now, it will be worse then.

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Topdude 2 years ago

Has anyone ever heard of the fundamental medical principle that says Prevention is better than Cure? With this pandemic it is even more critical to abide by it. All of you selfish , short term non critical thinkers need to grow up. The job of a Prime Minister is a no win job during times like these. However, history will be the judge. May I once again please ask my fellow Bahamians to let the Prime Minister do his job. God Bless you Prime Minister.

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tribanon 2 years ago

Minnis has obviously never heard of your "fundamental medical principle that says Prevention is better than Cure." If he had, why did he prematurely reopen our borders to travellers from the US on July 1?

And as for Minnis having a "no win job" as PM, that's entirely because he's grossly incompetent, sorely lacking in leadership skills and just plain clueless and directionless. You can make up all of the excuses in the world you want to try and explain his appallingly abysmal performance record to date, but at the end of the day he is who he is and that's just not good for any of us, especially in these times.

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Bobsyeruncle 2 years ago

So who is good for us? Those who want the economy to open up will find half the population telling them to keep it closed - just look at the comments in this thread. It's a lose/lose situation for any leader irrespective of their party.

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tribanon 2 years ago

Oh pleeezzzz stop with your 'half want this, half want that crapola'. That's just all part of that Trumpian false narrative about the so called 'balancing act' between risk of dying from Covid-19 or the risk of dying from a failed economy. Bottomline: Had Minnis & D'Aguilar not made their very flawed and fatal decision to prematurely reopen our borders to travellers from the US, we probably would not be overwhelmed by out-of-control Covid-19 spread today and we would have at least had the non-tourist dependent apects of economy functioning for the benefit of all of us.

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