By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
OPPOSITION leader Brave “Brave” Davis yesterday called Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ recent announcements on the re-opening of the country’s economy a “ball of confusion”, saying more clarity is needed on the country’s travel requirements for visitors after July 1.
This comes after Dr Minnis announced on Thursday that the country has officially begun the transition to Phase Four of the government’s reopening plan.
Under the new phase, restaurants and salons will be allowed to open later this month under certain guidelines.
Dr Minnis said starting next weekend, the weekend lockdown measure will be lifted for the entire country but with the 9pm to 5am curfew still set to remain in place.
Public parks and beaches, he added, also will be allowed to open on other remaining islands with no COVID-19 cases, starting today. This includes Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Spanish Wells, Exuma and San Salvador.
As for New Providence, Paradise Island, Grand Bahama and Bimini, Dr Minnis said the closure of public parks and beaches will still remain in effect.
Saying the new measures were not “well thought-out,” Mr Davis told The Tribune yesterday: “We’re still having a lot of confusion as to what one could do or not do and that’s manifested by the number of calls I’m getting from people who say ‘well, what am I able to do?’
“I cannot tentatively answer those questions because it’s all confusing and… there is no clear plan and as I’ve said before we gave them the chance, the Bahamian people gave them the opportunity, we all accepted the lockdown.
“That lockdown was for the purpose of them to develop a plan and give them time to understand what they’re doing and to relieve the pressure on our economic circumstances and to put in protocols for testing, tracing, isolation and treatment.”
But, with insufficient COVID-19 tests in the country, Mr Davis said he is concerned about a further community spread when the country fully re-opens its borders, especially considering the social unrest abroad.
Last week, officials revealed the country’s tourism industry will begin a phased opening on June 15 when boaters, yachters and private pilots will be allowed entry to The Bahamas.
However, in recent weeks, countries worldwide have been plagued with widespread protests over the killing of George Floyd, an African American who died while being detained by police officers in Minnesota.
Speaking on the matter yesterday, Mr Davis said: “You see all the protests, the mass gathering in the United States and that doesn’t all go well for containing the virus. We ought to be concerned how that is going to play before how we can open our borders safely.
“And I think at the end of the day, for some reason, the government seems to be reluctant to obtain test kits. . . because the bottom line is you have to test and you have to contact trace as necessary to ensure that it is contained.
“I just don’t understand what they’re listening to and where their head is at.”
During Thursday’s press conference, Dr Minnis said as it stands now, all returning residents and visitors will be required to produce a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country.
However, he noted that officials had not finalised the entry protocols for its targeted July 1 re-opening date as they are still in discussions over the issue.
To this, Mr Davis said: “Don’t you think they should be clear? They should be clear otherwise we don’t have the competent persons, but they should be clear at where they are today. Otherwise, all they seem to be doing in what we call our old language is following fashion.”
Asked yesterday about his suggestions for re-opening the country’s economy amid the pandemic, the Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador MP replied: “My COVID task force has provided them with a plan to open the economy and it starts off with ensuring that the proper resources are in place, the proper resources meaning personal protective equipment for our first responders.
“It requires us having sufficient test kits and testing on the ground always and not just in New Providence.”
On Thursday, Dr Minnis also announced a further relaxation of hours for already exempted businesses and services in the country, saying starting Monday, all professional services and commercial activity will now be able to resume regular operating hours.
However, he said businesses must be closed by 7pm daily.