By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
Beaches in New Providence were opened yesterday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the government to close them in late March. This weekend, Bahamians are expected to flock to locations like Goodman’s Bay, Saunders Beach and the Montagu foreshore to enjoy some fun in the sun.
Deputy chief medical officer Dr Delon Brennen took this opportunity to reiterate the need for people to adhere to health recommendations as they enjoy their outings.
In addition to wearing masks, Dr Brennen also advises beach-goers to minimise the amount of sharing that takes place. These recommendations are in line with the Centres For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rules governing beach activity in the US where the coronavirus case numbers have soared to new heights in recent days.
“Our advice is that individuals maintain the same level of adherence to public health measures as they have done so far and that they don’t leave those things behind,” Dr Brennen told Tribune Health.
“So the expectation is that people will continue to socially distance; the emergency orders have said people should gather in no more groups of five.”
And ideally, Dr Brennen added, the five people should be from one household.
“And then the suggestion would be that you continue to wear your masks as long as you are not in the water. So if you are just sitting on the beach you continue to wear your masks and still maintain that distance from each other as much as possible,” he said.
Dr Brennen said even on the beach people should make provisions for hand-washing.
“Again, if you are not in the water and eating, drinking, playing with toys, beach equipment and the likes, you need to wash yours hands and make sure other people in your party wash their hands or sanitise their hands as well,” he said
“Try to minimise the amount of sharing items. For example, if one person is using a beach chair, the other is using a beach towel; everyone has their own supplies, they have they own food and beverages in their own containers. The sharing is not just in passing of the organism to another, but it also involves one person coming closer to another person, usually in order to share those items because we want to discourage that practice too.”
Health officials, Dr Brennen said, are all for Bahamians taking advantage of the fresh air and the beautiful turquoise waters, but are urging them to so with caution and care.
“We have no issue with people going into the water. We encourage people to do so and remain active; exercising on the beach, being active on the beach and going into the water is encouraged,” he said.
“Obviously you have to use the same safety guidelines. For example, if you can’t swim try not to go into the water at all or stay close to shoreline. If you can, pay attention to tides because you don’t want to put yourself in danger.”