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Symonette And Sands Question Approach

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Dr Duane Sands

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Brent Symonette

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

FORMER Minnis administration Cabinet ministers Dr Duane Sands and Brent Symonette appeared unconvinced yesterday by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ decision to close beaches during the upcoming Independence Day holiday weekend.

In a robust defense of his action, Dr Minnis said he is concerned about what potential mass gatherings on beaches could mean for the spread of COVID-19, especially now that international flights to the country have resumed.

But Dr Sands, who resigned as health minister in May, cited a view of some medical experts that the spread of COVID-19 is less likely at beaches than at other activities which are not restricted.

“The Texas Medical Association published a table of risks going from least to most, the lowest being opening the mail or getting restaurant takeout, to the highest risk being going to a bar,” he said. “Going to a beach was listed as a moderate risk, with a number of things that we do in the Bahamas like working in an office building, swimming in a public pool, visiting elderly residents or friends at their homes, eating in a restaurant, traveling by plane, playing basketball or working out in a gym, all of these things that are allowed, are higher risk than going to a beach provided that the appropriate social distancing and mask wearing when people are not in the water is maintained.”

Mr Symonette, meanwhile, said the country still needs a better explanation for why the beaches will be closed. He said it is public relations problem for the government to advertise the country to tourists as a safe destination, then close the beaches on New Providence, Paradise Island and Grand Bahama.

“We advertised ourself as a safe environment, to say it is perfectly safe to come to the Bahamas and have a holiday, therefore enticing people to come to our shores,” the St Anne’s MP said. “And then we turn around and say the beaches in Nassau are not safe. That’s a public relations nightmare for me. So the question remains is: have people cancelled at the Ocean Club? Are they going home? Are we going to send a negative public relations message back? These are issues on my mind.

“We have to be consistent. If we’re going to do this again, we have to start to say, there’s going to be restrictions on such and such a day because tourists know they need a COVID test, but when they come to these beaches expecting to get away from whatever and not be able to go to them (that is a problem).

“COVID, if it is such a disease that it will affect your eyes, your liver and whatever we heard this morning, it doesn’t stop working at 10pm, it doesn’t all of a sudden go to sleep at 5am and it doesn’t necessarily not work on a beach in Eleuthera and work on a beach in Nassau. It doesn’t in my humble opinion add up, unless there is some underlying reason that we haven’t heard.”

Mr Symonette added: “…I’m a little nerve edged as to why the virus will not find the beach on Eleuthera or the beach on Acklins but it’ll find the beach in Grand Bahama and Nassau. So tomorrow a pile of people are going to jump on a plane and go to a number of our Family Islands, they’re going to go to a beach, and they’re going to come back to Nassau on Sunday because those beaches are opened.”

Mr Symonette questioned if the government is concerned that beach activities cannot be policed.

“At some point we have to dive and get to the finish line,” he said. “I see this current regulation as the wind shifted direction quickly and you made an adjustment. I think we need to make sure that we correct the course properly and get back on course…Are we scared to court marshall a few and let the majority of the army suffer? There’s no doubt the majority of citizens have been following the provisions, otherwise we wouldn’t be where we are. They’ve been good citizens and they’ve had a good general in charge in terms of the member for Killarney.

“But we cannot allow a few bad apples to continue to cause damage in our communities. This is where I have some problems with the way we govern in our country, both political parties. We passed the cell phone law. How many people have you seen (driving while using a cell phone)? We haven’t enforced it and that is one of our fundamental problems in our country today. We got police on every corner coming up Bay Street, four and five in every corner. There are no shops opened, they’re closed. We’ve gone and put red lines in banks where you shouldn’t go across this area so are we saying we cannot police the beaches? Is that what we’re really saying? I hope not. We have some bad boys. Then the issue is, bring those people before the court marshall. Deal with them because they are what’s ruining it for the majority of us that are law-abiding,” Mr Symonette said.

Dr Sands also questioned the number of COVID-19 PCR tests the country is performing. Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis, coordinator of the COVID-19 response, said last week officials are not doing more tests because there is no more community spread of the virus.

Dr Sands said the average number of tests for countries and territories in the world is 110,000 tests per million.

“The Bahamas to this day has done 6,272 tests per million,” he said. “In comparison, the Cayman Islands has done 383,000 tests per million. Bermuda, 126,000 tests per million. Barbados, 29,000 tests per million. The United States, 117,000 tests for million. The greatest of all, Turks & Caicos. In the early part of this pandemic, they couldn’t do their own RT PCR testing and they would send their tests to the Bahamas. As of today, the Turks & Caicos are testing at a rate of 21,252 tests per million, the Bahamas at 6,272 tests per million.”

Comments

licks2 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Why these two clowns don't go sit their hips down. . .or find something else to talk about except closing down beaches from covid resurgence! Brent better don't let Sands dumbness "rub off" on him. . .these people out here done think he is out to "play them". Take my word. . .if he and Doc Sands are slightly seen as trying to "do doc in". . .these people them will turn on him in a NY minute!! He is white and the PLP favorite whipping boy!! He will open a can of whooped hip on himself that will take down him and all around him down politically!!

Take my word for it. . .he better tread lightly there!! Before he thinks that I don't like his color. . .I am one of those Bahamians who think that one of our greatest political mistakes over the years was not making him PM!! Whether we like to admit it or not. . .the global white power structure would have dealt more favorable with him than LOP, PGC, HAI and HAM!! Heck, only LOP could have given Brent a run for his money intellectually. . .no joke!! It is what it is!!

HAI seemed more scared of Brent's skills set than doc seem to be. I would agree that before doc became PM. . .he needed Brent money to get a jump start!! Doc now holding the purse. . .he don't need Brent's money again. . .Brent needs him!!! If the FNM form a break away party and Brent is "anywhere within a million miles" around the road to government leadership. . .hail to PM Davis come next election!! So let these two in this "shot-in-ya-foot" party go on. . .I believe the next election is a referendum of Doc and Davis!! Any emergence of Brent into the "big seat" is a win for Davis!!

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tribanon 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Minnis is rightfully being made to look like the dumb and most incompetent fool that he is.

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joeblow 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I think its time for Bahamians to unanimously agree that in the next election, the PLP should add at least five seats to the ones they already have -- which will keep them safely in the minority:

Killarney- Minnis

Elizabeth- Sands

Southern Shores - Frankie (I was gonna call him something else)

Mt Moriah - Dames

St. Annes- Symonette

Maybe they could get two or three more, but if we could do that, we might have a chance!

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joeblow 2 months, 3 weeks ago

... an honest oversight. In my mind on that list he was number 3!

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licks2 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I think that sands is the only one who runs a possible defeat come next election. But also, I think that the FNM will lose many seats. . .most likely bringing the HOA count to a two to three seats margin for the FNM!

The bleeding caused by in-fighting among FNM will cost them big time!! The PLP poor leadership will make them unattractive for FNM and independents!! The key battle point will be re-building the economy. . .Bamsi Brave cannot get it done. . .he never knows anything or sanctions his party members and their wrong!!

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Oh the PLP getting all the seats in GB and Abaco too...

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SP 2 months, 3 weeks ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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tribanon 2 months, 3 weeks ago

You're gonna be proven very wrong my friend....just you wait and see. While Sands and Symonette may each carry much bad baggage, one thing is for sure, the vast majority of Bahamians will never again support a political party led by either Minnis or Davis.

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licks2 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Who wast majority? You and your circle of friends? Don't fool yasef there tribe. . .them same vast majority either like davis or doc!! So how you expect to turn that around before election. . .like LBT and sands did? You do remember how that turned out do you? Brent and sands abandoned LBT to go for the ride with that same doc!! Doc has a very large support base here man. . .that's the reality. The same can be said of davis! Ya see what happened to LBT AYE? She was destroyed worst than the PLP.

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tribanon 2 months, 3 weeks ago

LOL. Not even the lowest of thugs like Sebas Bastian will financially support the FNM party in the next general election if Minnis remains as its leader. And we all know who has the really big money the FNM will need to win a compelling majority of constituencies in the next general election. That person, who has a long family history in active politics, even makes Sebas Bastian look like a pauper.

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mandela 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Let's put politics and side-taking on the side for a moment. Anyone who would side with Brent Symonette and Dr. Sands at this point in the game is even lower than Dr. Minnus and to me they are traitors, persons not to be believed, ever. Dr. Minnis may be a want to be dictator but turning on your own in the fashion they did I look at the both of them as traitors who only spoke out when scorned,

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tribanon 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Minnis is as corrupt as they come and is perhaps the biggest back-stabbing politician that ever set foot in the HOA.

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 3 weeks ago

We need Sands in the PM's office now. Convince Prime Minister Pandemic to step down and give Sands the reigns. Or vote no confidence and do it. JUST DO IT!

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