By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
AS Grand Bahama headed into a “difficult two-week lockdown” after an outbreak of COVID-19 infections, Minister of State for Grand Bahama Senator Kwasi Thompson stressed the seriousness of the situation.
He said residents should remain at home for their own safety and comply with lockdown restrictions, regulations and the tough measures put in place to again bring about a lull in coronavirus cases here.
“We are facing a very serious situation in GB,” he said. “And we need to do all we can to get the situation under control; many are infected and sick, and unfortunately, lives have already been lost.
“I want to send out the strongest possible message: protect yourself and protect your families,” he stressed.
He spoke at the Office of the Prime Minister in Freeport, some six hours before the island went into lockdown at 7pm.
Earlier, Assistant Commissioner of Police Ashton Greenslade warned that police will be out in “full force” to ensure residents adhere to the lockdown.
While the island is entering “one of the most difficult periods in its history”, Senator Thompson is confident Grand Bahama can control the spread of the virus, if everyone complies with the restrictions and regulations.
“Residents should remain in their homes for their own safety and the safety of their families. We managed this (before) and we are confident if we comply with regulations, we would be able to manage this and control this again,” he said.
“We are facing a very difficult time. It is going to be difficult for the next two weeks. We want to encourage Grand Bahamians that they are strong and resilient people. They have fought through hurricanes, a difficult economy, and have fought through COVID-19. We done it before, we can do it again.”
He said there is no need to panic buy.
“Persons should not rush to food stores as there is an adequate supply. However, I still want to caution residents not to leave your home unless it is absolutely necessary,” he added.
Gas stations and pharmacies will also be opened for a limited period of time. It was noted that construction for Dorian repair work and preparation for hurricane season will continue, and that essential government offices will be available for emergency services.
Industrial companies have exempted, but only to operate for the purpose of maintaining their equipment on-site, and for essential and emergency operations.
Mr Thompson indicated that it is not business as usual and industrial companies are not open to the public.
The government is also maintaining a government quarantine facility, managed by NEMA and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, to house those in need of quarantine assistance.
In terms of food assistance, the minister noted as of July 22, Feed Grand Bahama has issued more than 4,000 vouchers. “We believe it will assist more than 18,000 here on GB,” according to Mr Thompson.
Those in need of assistance may apply online at www.feedgrandBahama.com.
Mr Thompson also noted the OPM Digital Information Centre will be active and can be accessed via WhatsApp at 727-2473, email at firstname.lastname@example.org. A help desk is also available from 9am-5pm during lockdown at 727-8119, 727-0993, 727-0826, and through facebook@opmgbi.