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As The Bahamas Is Rocked By 55 New Cases, Pm Says: ‘We Were Afraid To Stop Travel’

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis speaks in the House of Assembly. (BIS Photos/Kemuel Stubbs)

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis speaks in the House of Assembly. (BIS Photos/Kemuel Stubbs)

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said Bahamians who travelled to the United States when the borders reopened this month “lacked discipline” and caused a surge in COVID-19 cases.

He said before the borders were reopened, his administration considered prohibiting residents from leaving the country but feared the political fallout of doing this while allowing tourists to move freely in and out of the country. Had residents been prohibited from travelling, he said the decision would have been discriminatory and unconstitutional but would have prevented spread of COVID-19 while boosting the economy.

Dr Minnis said 40 percent of the recent COVID-19 cases are because Bahamians travelled to virus hotspots, a number he expects to increase as more analysis is done.

His comments came before parliamentarians passed a resolution extending the state of emergency to September 30.

“... Governments will be placed in situations where at some point in time they will have to make what they call discriminatory or unconstitutional decisions against their people in the interest of the advancement of their nation. We could not (do that) and the statistics are verifying that if we did, Riu and other hotels would’ve been opened and doing well,” he said.

The Riu hotel announced this week that it will temporarily close on July 28.

Residents and tourists were not treated entirely the same when the country’s borders reopened. Unlike tourists, short-term travellers who left for 72 hours or less were not required to produce a negative RT-PCR test result and on their return to the country many were not entered into the Hubbcat system that monitors people in quarantine. Many were also not placed into a government designated quarantine facility.

Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin criticised Dr Minnis during her contribution to the debate, saying it was the government that “dropped the ball” by letting people travel to the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic and not quarantine them when they returned.

Dr Minnis said: “We demonstrated as Bahamians the lack of discipline in that as our borders were opened there was mass migration to the hotspot despite a warning, we migrated, mass migration both from New Providence, Grand Bahama and to a limited extent Family Islands.

“The case we would’ve heard of Inagua, that was Inagua’s residents who left Inagua, went to Florida, father, the son, subsequently become infected and en route back to Inagua it was discovered they were positive and were subsequently held here in New Providence and managed appropriately.

“No, they did not return to Inagua with the virus. What that demonstrates is the entire Bahamas archipelago travelled to the various hotspots. What that demonstrates, had we made a firm decision to ensure and prevent Bahamians from travelling, we would’ve been in a better position but to make such a decision would have been considered unconstitutional.

“I would have and the government would have been accused of being the most dictatorial government. We would have been and I would’ve been accused of an abuse of power. But power is only abused when used unnecessarily but when it is used for the correct purpose it is not abused. We as a government, we refused, though we thought about it, we refused to make that decision to place a travel embargo on Bahamians and allow others to come in but what would have happened had we done that? The opposition, the people, the media, etc, would have lambasted us for doing that.

“They would not have known what the possible outcome would’ve been. We would’ve been a successful nation but we would’ve been a destroyed grouping. We were afraid to make that decision. We were already being threatened by members of the opposition to be taken to court on constitutional violations so could you imagine what would’ve happened? We made the decision not to make an unconstitutional decision though we would’ve been better off and as a result of the decision that we made, allowing everybody to travel, we are seeing the results today. In today’s world because of how we react and how we respond, that was the correct decision because we would’ve not known that this would’ve possibly been the outcome and it was essential that we know what is the outcome.”

Comments

mandela 1 week, 4 days ago

Travel out the country did not have to be stopped! it was just plain D-average to let person go into a virus infested USA and not test them on return. How dumb can they be to believe that there was no risk, a person only needs to have sex one time without a condom to get AIDS, that's like saying you can have sex up to three times without being concern. All they had to do is tell Bahamians if you travel out the country upon re-entry you will be required as a mandatory to be tested. Then anyone who wanted to travel would have known the consequences and in no way their rights would have been infringed on. So plain and simple the authories dropped the ball because they were to lazy to test the Bahamians returning home. Put the blame where it should be, on all of our D-average incompetent authorities in charge.

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joeblow 1 week, 4 days ago

It would not have been discriminatory or unconstitutional if they had developed a list of criteria for Bahamians to travel abroad and specific protocol for re-entry. Consider that just several months ago they had idiotic protocol for family islanders in Nassau to go back to their island of origin!!

Tourists also could have been restricted to the hotel and beach areas while being observed. The facts are clear, this man wanted a decision making position when he lacks the capacity to make rational coherent decisions that include considering worse case scenarios! Its that simple!

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happyfly 1 week, 4 days ago

Please think about this. Papa Doc thinks we Bahamians cant be trusted to go to the beach for a solitary walk FOR ONE (1) HOUR on an island that has zero cases of COVID but made it OK for

"short-term travelers who left FOR SEVENTY TWO (72) HOURS or less were not required to produce a negative RT-PCR test result and on their return to the country, many were not entered into the Hubbcat system that monitors people in quarantine"

and also please note that those travelers were most likely going to the biggest concentration of COVID cases in the world and walking around an indoor shopping mall with no masks on for three whole days.

Now the man is saying he was worried about the political fallout and worried about the constitution. You could not make this stuff up !!!!

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stillwaters 1 week, 4 days ago

Bahamians were wailing about how the PM was just using his powers to control them......hell, he let y'all loose and what happened.....y'all went buck wild in Florida.....wild, but free.

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tribanon 1 week, 4 days ago

You must be getting dizzy with all of that deceitful spinning you do for Minnis in a shameful effort to deflect blame for his very own foolish decisions on to the Bahamian people. And the demeaning and maligning way in which you are always talking about the Bahamian people has me thinking you're probably one of those foreigners Minnis loves more than us Bahamians.

Just because many of us Bahamians may be D- educated, thanks in large part to corrupt politicians like Minnis, does not mean we are stupid and without our wits. And believe me, we're excellent at sniffing out right from wrong when we've been most unfairly treated or wronged in a big way. Minnis has done all of us a great disservice by his looney-tune decisions for political self-gain that have brought Covid-19 back to our shores in a horrifyingly big way.

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stillwaters 1 week, 4 days ago

I wish you would stop trolling me every time I post. I never read or respond to your posts.....so leave me the hell alone

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tribanon 1 week, 4 days ago

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

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stillwaters 1 week, 4 days ago

Who crowned you king of this blog?

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stillwaters 1 week, 4 days ago

Attacking anybody with an opposing view to yours

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geostorm 1 week, 4 days ago

@stillwaters, that's just the way it happened. They went buck wild and are now suffering the consequences!

I have seen members of another media outlet questioning whether these new cases are really travel related. I am just shocked at how ignorant our people can be. All it takes is one person who travelled to come back and expose others, resulting in an entire community being affected.

We all need to do our part and be responsible if we want to win this fight against COVID 19!

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tribanon 1 week, 4 days ago

No Bahamian would have been able to travel to Florida had Minnis not been so stupid and foolish in allowing them to take short term trips to Florida without even the need for a negative Covid-19 test before returning to the Bahamas. Minnis's daft decision making is the root cause of Covid-19 returning to Bahamas in a big way. But he and others like you on his behalf are deceitfully trying to deflect and shift the blame on to the backs of the Bahamian people.

Minnis consistently makes huge mistakes because he's small minded and incapable of seeing all the key moving parts in the much bigger picture. Added to that, he always puts his personal political interests ahead of the safety and well-being of the Bahamian people.

Minnis should be paying you and @stillwaters overtime for your very deceitful spin efforts on his behalf. LOL

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joeblow 1 week, 4 days ago

@ geostorm... no, some of us are being responsible and doing our part, but we are still being subjected to the draconian measures imposed by a leader who cannot make a coherent decision. It is stupid to allow 200 people positive for covid to go home and hope they stay there when in reality they are moving through the community. That stupid decision puts those who are doing the right things at risk!! Those people should have been quarantined in a makeshift facility somewhere.

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conian7 1 week, 4 days ago

"Residents and tourists were not treated entirely the same when the country’s borders reopened. Unlike tourists, short-term travellers who left for 72 hours or less were not required to produce a negative RT-PCR test result and on their return to the country many were not entered into the Hubbcat system that monitors people in quarantine. Many were also not placed into a government designated quarantine facility."

While Bahamians who travelled to Florida when the borders opened obviously exercised poor judgement (in the opinion of many), the government's decision to use the guideline to not require testing or quarantine if a Bahamian spent less than 72 hours in the USA is a highly questionable decision.

In the days and weeks before the July opening of the borders the spike in new cases in Florida should have caused an adjustment in the decision to do so.

The suggestion of the Prime Minister is that the blame, the only blame and cause of the spike in cases here, is irresponsible Bahamians, not questionable opening and border policies, not tourists, while the evidence - scant as it is - shows that there are many who share responsibility.

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Honestman 1 week, 4 days ago

I cannot believe the PM has uttered the statement that "we were afraid to make that decision" The PM is elected to make the tough decisions especially if he feels this particular action (forcing Bahamians traveling to COVID hotspots to quarantine on return) would have been the right decision in the context of saving the country from the unnecessary spread of this deadly virus. What an admmision to make! What a dereliction of duty! What a failure of leadership!

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ISpeakFacts 1 week, 4 days ago

Like I've always said, he's a spineless coward who MUST RESIGN IMMEDIATELY!!!

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My2Cents 1 week, 3 days ago

I’m with you on that one. Imagine admitting to the nation you were afraid to make a decision in its best interest, which you had full authority to do under the emergency orders, and decided not to do so because you were afraid of the political fallout? Disgraceful. This is exactly why he avoids press conferences. Foot meets mouth every time.

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tribanon 1 week, 4 days ago

There are two most telling things in Minnis's latest absurd remarks:

1) In the midst of a global pandemic he readily admits to making decisions, as both PM and minister of health, based on his own political interests as opposed to public safety; and

2) He continues to shamelessly try lay the blame on Bahamians for his own very foolish decision to pre-maturely re-open our borders to travellers from the US, with residents of the Bahamas even being allowed by him to return within a 72 hour period with no Covid-19 test requirement.

And as for his feigned concern about our constitutional rights, this most sinister and deceitful oaf has effectively shredded our Constitution.

Minnis is the epitome of a power crazed and most abusive self-annointed tyrannical dictator, no ifs ands or buts. He is without a shadow of doubt mentally unhinged and dangerous to the well-being of our country and its people.

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TalRussell 1 week, 4 days ago

Exit the OPM, and immediately! Brings back memories of the FAKE OBAN signatory!
Rare when a sitting prime minister steps forward admits he self to have lied to the PopoulacesOrdinary at large POAL when he told them that his government would only make life and death decisions based strictly on sound scientific advice and that they the POAL were so lucky to have a medical doctor in charge who does best understand the science which he must make life and death decisions on.. Em's a damn self-admitted liar.
Any other RT. Honourable, would've done made the trip up Mount Fitzwilliam to have apologised before the Queen's duly sanctioned representative, and left the hill as a resigned former PM.* Nod Once for Yeah, Twice for No?

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professionalbahamian 1 week, 4 days ago

Chief - ever heard the saying - “its better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” ?!!

Never, ever treat Bahamians different than tourists or non Bahamians and you might have a foundation for a free country!!!!!! The government has no place doing what they are doing to the extent they are doing it!!!

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tribanon 1 week, 4 days ago

Minnis is still allowing the wealthy foreigners to come and go as they please on board their private aircraft and yachts many of which depart from South Florida for The Bahamas. Simply unbelievable!

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tribanon 1 week, 4 days ago

I guess by now Renward Wells must be getting that horrible sinking feeling that Minnis has very deliberately set him up to take a very big fall. Minnis was quick to throw Sands under the bus and it will be no different with Wells.

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JackArawak 1 week, 4 days ago

allowing Bahamians to travel to the global epicenter and return without a test was Minnis second stupidest decision of his career. He was supposed to give women equal rights and he hasn't. He deserves a kick in his non existent balls.

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TalRussell 1 week, 4 days ago

Ma Comrade Jack, if they walk, talks and acts like Republicans, there's a safe bet they're Republicans to their very governing core?
Wasn't it 'em Mr. Minnis who had loudly promised to empty Fox Hill's jail cells of all prisoners serving jail time for simple possession weed?
Also, 'em's wants POAL to forget it's now into the third politically appointed chief of the Royal Constabulary who has gone silent on the much-promised investigation into the "so-called gone missin' OBAN documents? Just couldn't make this stuff up. Just, couldn't.** Nod Once for Yeah, Twice for No?

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SP 1 week, 4 days ago

To be clear, "stopping travel" was not the issue. Keeping the borders closed to the U.S. was the overwhelming decision the vast majority agreed as the right course of action. How they couldn't see that is beyond comprehension.

Had we allowed travel to Canada, EU, and the U.K., we might have had a constant trickle of tourists.

It is not entirely fair to blame Bahamians for traveling and transmitting the disease. The government was fully aware of the high level of infection in Florida and equally aware that Floridians were not practicing masks wearing and social distancing. Why would the government not expect Bahamians to also become infected in such an environment?

Secondly, why would the government allow travel to an area known to have an out of control highly contagious pathogen and not require them to be tested upon return? And, with such porous borders, why would the government allow private aircraft and boats into the Bahamas from Florida?

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mandela 1 week, 4 days ago

Dear Prime Minister, Dr. H Minnis, where is the plan to get us out of this mess? What is the plan to get us out of this mess? No jobs, No money, No rent, No electricity, No water, No food, No BEACH = frustration = more frustration = full-blown frustration = A whole heap of D-average citizens trying to find by any means possible a way to survive, and some higher than D-average citizens also. Or Mr. PM are you making decisions as you go.

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proudloudandfnm 1 week, 4 days ago

Making excuses? Blaming the people???

What is wrong with this man???

He makes a dumb decision and its our fault???

I have been exposed to the virus thru a coworker. He never travelled and neither did I. So how is this my fault? He let Bahamians travel to covid central with no testing and no isolation. How is this my fault? I have a heart condition, my chances are not food if I get it...

We need a new PM. Time for this empty suit to go...

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TigerB 1 week, 4 days ago

I live here in Grand Bahama for 25 years and in all that time I never once saw a government, PLP or FNM force anyone to travel. We travel on our own. We take a risk on I-95, Black Fridays, Sam's Walmart, those are our playground the black friday stampede and so on. That is what We do here in Grand Bahama. This foolishness bout the government at fault for opening the borders is stupid. We just admitting here that we have no discipline..Bahamians travel on their own, not one will tell you the Government forced them to travel...I choose to stay home, some of you did, it was your call, Strongly wish some of you on here would submit your names on the Ballot, Ill be disappointed if you don't. I recommend you run for a seat and you can state your feeling in the house of assembly. I will say this again, don't be surprised if Minnis and his merry men do a second term. as bad as the country is

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ISpeakFacts 1 week, 4 days ago

ONCE AGAIN: I see you along with every other Minnis supporter continue to ignore the fact that Minnis allowed citizens into the country without the need to be tested or quarantined upon return from the new Chinese Virus epicenter aka Florida!

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Hoda 1 week, 4 days ago

Why does one have to be a Minnis supporter to not need someone to make law preventing me from traveling to Florida to know that Florida isn’t a safe place to be and not go ? Why is posing the question ‘what are you going to Florida for’ mean someone is blaming Bahamians for a spike covid and not posing a reasonable query when everyone knows Florida is a hotspot?

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proudloudandfnm 1 week, 4 days ago

Government should have made them test on their return or at least isolate at home. Allowing people to go to Florida and return without testing was incredibly dumb. And opening the borders to covid central was dumb. The government knew people would travel, its government's responsibility to look at a situation and make a realistic plan. Not manage with wishful thinking. Stop giving this failure of a government a pass. They are responsible for this second wave. Period.

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TigerB 1 week, 4 days ago

Ma'am, sir, listen, you will die early if you let politics take you to your grave. No government has done anything for me... I really don't care, either way, my family and me, we look to stay covid19 free. You can travel or stay at home. Right now all I see in 274, it represents the Bahamas, no PLP or FMN.. if you are a Bahamian you will understand that. It's not politics.

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tribanon 1 week, 4 days ago

With Minnis and the likes of his message spinners like you, geostorm, stillwaters, bahamianson, Topdude, etc., it's always all about your politics and never about the safety and well-being of the rest of us.

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TigerB 1 week, 4 days ago

Ma'am, sir, listen, you will die early if you let politics take you to your grave. No government has done anything for me... I really don't care, either way, my family and me, we look to stay covid19 free. You can travel or stay at home. Right now all I see in 316, it represents the Bahamas, no PLP or FMN.. if you are a Bahamian you will understand that. It's not politics

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