We’re back in business – although not quite everyone yet.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis unlocked the doors of the country, ending the lockdown and giving the nod for businesses to open up more.
Restaurants can open under certain guidelines, and all professional services and commercial activity can resume regular hours up to 7pm daily.
Some businesses aren’t allowed to open up yet, such as bars and hair salons, barbers and cinemas, gyms and entertainment facilities – with hair salons particularly being given a raft of new rules on certification and sanitisation.
Restaurants can’t allow people indoors yet – so al fresco dining only to start with. From June 15, Arawak Cay and Potter’s Cay also will be able to serve the public again.
There are some strange inconsistencies, however. While churchgoers went back to worship indoors yesterday, for example, people can’t yet go back to the park or the beach, even with social distancing.
We’re not sure how often people on a beach are closer to one another than people in church, but this seems like a problem that could be solved with a few post markers pushed into the sand to indicate distancing and lifeguards on the public beaches reminding people to keep apart.
As for those businesses that need close contact to operate – you can’t give a haircut from six feet away – we hope the operators work closely with the government to ensure the safest way of working.
A glimpse of what could go wrong can be seen in Missouri, where a hairdresser with COVID-19 served 84 clients, leading one contact tracing expert to warn they couldn’t take many more instances such as that. Worse, a second hairdresser from the same salon also tested positive, having served another 56 clients.
That’s the risks we face if we get it wrong. But let’s for goodness sake not overstate the risk where it isn’t as high. Think again on those beaches – don’t just keep them closed, but think about how to open them safely.
On a different note, we see that Dr Minnis has decided not to explain his reasoning over accepting Dr Duane Sands’ resignation as Minister of Health, despite repeated questioning on Thursday. Those questions aren’t going to go away, Dr Minnis. Dr Minnis batted away the questions, saying the matter had been discussed ad infinitum in the press. Yes, Dr Minnis, but not by you. You campaigned on transparency, let’s have some.
No triumph while girls like Lorencia are victims
We cannot even begin to imagine the grief being experienced by the family of Lorencia Simmons Walkes.
Lorencia was in a group of three people shot on May 29 at Belville Circle shortly after 1pm. One person died at the scene. Lorencia was injured in the shooting – and died yesterday morning. She was just ten years old.
She was a little girl who wanted to grow up to become a teacher. A stray bullet ended her life.
There is talk of moving to a “new normal” in The Bahamas after the COVID-19 outbreak, but this shooting remains part of our old normal.
There will be some politicians who will point to crime being down this year, while downplaying the effect on crime figures of months in lockdown. Despite everyone being told to be in their homes at night and police patrolling the streets, we have still had 30 murders so far. If we had not had three months of lockdowns and curfews, what would our murder figures be instead?
So if some eager politico waves some crime figures around triumphantly, remember the fight against crime is far from over. Remember victims such as Lorencia. We cannot claim victory while ten-year-olds are still being shot and killed.