PLP leader Philip 'Brave' Davis.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
OPPOSITION leader Phillip “Brave” Davis yesterday called on government to accept full responsibility for the spike of COVID-19 cases, saying its policies on the re-opening of the borders were “full of loopholes”.
Speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday, the PLP leader said he was “very concerned and angry” to learn about the new COVID-19 cases in Grand Bahama, New Providence and his constituency — Cat Island.
Mr Davis said the rise of COVID-19 cases “exposes the fact” that the government did not open the country’s borders in a safe manner.
He said: “The risks we took in opening the borders at a time of rapidly rising case counts in the United States and especially Florida was not just foreseeable but foreseen. It was foreseen by me and many others as well. We foreshadowed it.
“We warned the competent authority about it and so it was your task to take every precaution possible to reduce those risks. But, the government’s policies (were) full of loopholes and they simply were not ready at the borders.
“They blamed the Bahamian people for the mess they see today but they need to take responsibility and clean this act and clean it up quickly, man.”
His comments came after 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.
Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar made similar comments earlier this week, suggesting that the government was perhaps not strict enough with its travel protocols for residents travelling abroad. Those travelling overseas for 72 hours or less were not required to produce a negative COVID-19 test to return home, but were instead told to quarantine or take a test after arrival.
However, yesterday, Mr Davis urged the government to stop playing the blame game and to accept full responsibility for their actions.
“That’s the fact of the matter and let’s accept that responsibility and move on,” he said.
The opposition leader also criticised the Minnis administration for its decisions to reimpose certain restrictions, including the closure of beaches and certain restaurants.
On Sunday, Dr Minnis banned all commercial flights and vessels from entering the country starting Wednesday with the exception of those coming from Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union.
He also announced the closure of Arawak Cay and Potter’s Cay restaurants and beaches in New Providence, Paradise Island, Rose Island, Athol Island and its surrounding cays.
While speaking in Parliament yesterday, Mr Davis hit out at the government for those decisions.
He said: “We pointed out the inconsistencies and the inequities like allowing one bar to open while closing all or allowing restaurants such as Kentucky and other restaurants and then close the restaurants on Arawak Cay.
“All it required is enforcement and a protocol to protect patrons that’s what you need to do…For example, the member for Elizabeth. He’s not here. He spoke about riskiest activities when I last heard him speak about this matter and he was speaking about a report from the Texas Medical Association, I think, and they were talking about beaches.
“I also saw a chart with advice from 500 epidemiologists on going to the beach. I believe they were discussing the riskiest activities and they were talking about going to the beach and that is in the lowest risk category.”
In response, the prime minister said: “All that can be answered, just come to the meeting.”
He was speaking about an emergency Cabinet meeting held last night with health officials. At the start of yesterday’s Parliamentary meeting, Dr Minnis had invited Mr Davis and PLP deputy leader, Chester Cooper to attend.