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July 1 - All Eyes On U.S. Numbers: Infection Rates And Mass Protests Raise Reopening Concern

Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.

Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.

By EARYEL BOWLEG

ebowleg@tribunemedia.net

DEPUTY Prime Minister Peter Turnquest has acknowledged concerns that ongoing protests and other factors in the United States may lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases there and have an impact on the country’s July 1 date for resuming commercial travel.

“Unfortunately as you all know a lot of the recovery is dependent upon the US and what’s happening with the travel leisure market there and there is concern that the virus may be returning, particularly with all of the protests that are going on in the US,”, Mr Turnquest said outside of Cabinet.

“There’s concerns that there may be an increased spread and that will show up in the next couple of weeks and so that will have a lot of impact upon our reopening on July 1.

“Even as we will have to reconsider what that may mean for that July 1 start date, but as it stands we anticipate reopening the border on July 1 and we are hoping that we will have a careful and slow and steady ramp up of the sector…”

Last month Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis made the announcement that government officials were considering resuming commercial travel in the country on or before July 1. However, he warned the dates are not final and may change depending on the circumstance.

According to US media, 22 states in America are seeing an uptick in new coronavirus cases. Among them is Florida, which reported an increase of 1,096 COVID-19 cases over a 24-hour period this week; it’s the sixth day in the past week that the state has confirmed over 1,000 new cases, according to Local 10 news. Overall, Florida has more than 60,000 cases with nearly 3,000 deaths from COVID-19.

The US also has the most cases globally with 1,965,685 confirmed.

Mr Turnquest also expressed the government’s optimism of ramping up the tourism sector to bring much needed economic relief and reduce the pressure experienced in the public system at the moment for income assistance and other social assistance programmes.

With talks of diversifying the economy to decrease the reliance on tourism, Mr Turnquest said the government has put deliberate thought in this area and this will be seen over the next couple of days as the ministers roll out their contributions. Yet he acknowledged this process is “not a quick fix” and it will take some time.

“It’s going to take some level of restructuring of the economy. It’s going to take investment by outsiders as well as domestic partners to get us going again and to broaden this economic pie and diversify as we all talk about this economy away from the very sensitive tourism/leisure market.

“…We are vested fully in the tourism and leisure market. We’re not going to walk away from that. It has been very productive for us over the years. We believe that once there is a vaccine or some treatment. . .people will start to travel again as they gain confidence and so we have to be ready for that.

“We have to invest in that and we have to change the model a little bit I believe to more boutique and smaller resorts thereby reducing the risks of widespread transmission if we do have to live with the virus for some time but I don’t believe we can abandon, at this time, that sector,” Mr Turnquest said.

Meanwhile, as more local sectors reopen, Works Minister Desmond Bannister cited the “huge challenge” of implementing social distancing at the Nassau Straw Market.

“We have over 400 vendors in a very small space and so the chairman of the Straw Market Authority is going to meet with the vendors and their leaders and try to get some accommodation. Some ideas from them as to where we go and what we do, so that we can keep them safe and. . .(keep) visitors to this country safe.”

Comments

proudloudandfnm 3 weeks, 2 days ago

The next couple of weeks? They're surging right now. Do not allow the Americans in....

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Porcupine 3 weeks, 2 days ago

But, drilling for oil is cool?

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K4C 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Drilling for oil not life threatening

COVID-19 life threatening

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proudloudandfnm 3 weeks, 2 days ago

What exactly does drilling for oil have to do with a pandemic????

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John 3 weeks, 2 days ago

well if the tourist can't come, drillin for oil will not be a bad idea...

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tribanon 3 weeks, 2 days ago

There's no oil and BPC knows it. There's only dumb people who have been conned into buying shares issued by BPC. XOM and CVX long ago determined there is no oil to be had anywhere in The Bahamas and they're two of the biggest oil exploration players in the world.

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Dawes 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Obviously you are financially well off enough not to have to worry for the next few months. Most of us are not. What should we do when our resources run out and there are no prospects of jobs due to no tourists being here?

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tribanon 3 weeks, 2 days ago

You had better get used to no tourists. Middle and upper-middle class Americans and Canadians are now buying recreation vehicles (RVs) and camping equipment in record quantities. They are also renting space in RV parks and camping areas near national parks in record numbers. Bottomline, the vast majority of North Americans will be travelling and vacationing within their own countries for at least the next few years because of their newfound fear of flying in airplanes jam-packed with passengers or cruising on densely populated floating hotels (cruise ships). Welcome to the 'new normal' for the tourism industry.

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John 3 weeks, 2 days ago

That is not the main reason why they are buying RV's. First they started buying them for isolation of family members who were front line workers or medical staff so they can isolate when coming home and not mix with the rest of the family. Secondly, after the looting,/protest/ unrest started, Americans began purchasing RV's in the event they have to flee their neighborhoods. Take note it is not the Black people that are inciting violence and property destruction. And the number of persons seeking to buy cabin cruisers, sail boats and properties abroad has also increased.

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Godson 3 weeks, 2 days ago

When the U.S.A. sneezes, the Bahamas catches the cold.

That being said, "without a vision (or visionaire) the people will perish". “…We are vested fully in the tourism and leisure market. We’re not going to walk away from that. It has been very productive for us over the years. We believe that once there is a vaccine or some treatment. . .people will start to travel again as they gain confidence and so we have to be ready for that.......#“We have to invest in that and we have to change the model a little bit I believe to more boutique and smaller resorts thereby reducing the risks of widespread transmission if we do have to live with the virus for some time but I don’t believe we can abandon, at this time, that sector,” Mr Turnquest said.

Lastly, what upset me most about the present FNM government administration is that, when they came into office, they saw this as an opportunity to get back at those who opposed them during the election. Notwithstanding their incompetence, they became belligerent and arrogant. Instead of unifying the Country they ostracized and alienated the caring and intelligent citizens from serving the people in crucial areas of concern. Now, in these times of crisis, these are the very persons who are most needed to help pioneer new economic paths.

But one cannot benefit from the banana skin that they have thrown away.

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Proguing 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Massive unemployment and bankruptcies will have a much more adverse effect on the Bahamas than Covid 19. We need to be open for business!

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tribanon 3 weeks, 2 days ago

We can re-open for business all we want but today the Bahamas could not pay for the typical North American leisure traveller to come to our shores as a tourist because of their newfound fear and anxiety of flying in a crowded commercial plane or stepping foot on a cruise ship stuffed with passengers in close quarters to one another. See my earlier post above.

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tetelestai 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Serious questions: if tourists aren't travelling, just what are we opening up business for? Second questions: what good is it to be "open for business", if, due to COVID-19, we may have an influx of COVID-19 patients in our health system?

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bahamianson 3 weeks, 2 days ago

balancing act and prepare for Covid 19, this time , we must live and have dinner with it.

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hj 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Covid19 will be around for sometime whether we like it or not. The government had 3 months or maybe more to develop a plan for dealing with it. If their plan is to keep the country closed or close it every time there is an issue,then they are even dumber than I thought. For any other industries to develop, if they develop it will take years,so tourism is what we have at the moment,whether we like foreigners or not. So gentlemen if you want to keep the county closed to ahead. You have all the time you want.

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tetelestai 3 weeks, 2 days ago

hj, I ask again: 90% of our tourists come from North America (source: D'Aguilar, budget communication). American are not travelling (source: CNN, FOX, Bloomberg, Yahoo! Finance). Who exactly are we opening up for? Is the 10% residual (China/Europe/Latin America) tourist worth opening up the economy?

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hj 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Keeping the borders closed indefinitely will not solve our problems. No country in the world can survive like this,unless of course North Korea is your ideal society. The Bahamas at this moment does not produce anything,so unless you have US dollars,Euros or any other hard currency, you can not import even food,not to mention gas to put into your car or keep the electricity running. It is nice not to be dependent in only one industry,so if you have any ideas on how to develop other industries i suppose you are free to open any business you may choose.

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tribanon 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Do you really think the US will give a hoot about another nation with either a Haiti or Cuba type economy being in the Caribbean/West Indies region? We could of course give the keys to our country to Communist China in exchange for a continuous supply of essentials like drinking water, food, bath soap, washing detergent, tooth paste, toilet paper, gasoline, fuel for electricity, basic internet service, etc., but that might well end up being a fate worse than death.

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TigerB 3 weeks, 2 days ago

This is an interesting case we have here. We in a mess if we open and in a mess if we don't....How long can the treasure last? Everything is coming out and nothing is goin back in. COVID19 isn't going away anytime soon as HJ said.. whether we open or stay close and even with a vaccine. We have to find a way to live through it and still live. I support opening.

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TalRussell 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Usually, when the Imperialists' red coats try to hide something by dressing comrade moneybags Brent up in Imperialists' red coats of how much they do really care for the livelihood the work from the home PopoulacesUnderclasses at large (PU) hairdresser, by dispatching Mr. UBP Brent heself to be's sporting his UBP camouflaged show compassion apparel, it does signal all eyes say they have something monstrously bad to hide. Nod one for yeah, Twice for no?

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John 3 weeks, 2 days ago

The real concern may NOT be most of the American (tourists) coming here, BUT the number of Bahamians who will travel to Florida and elsewhere and not practice safe distancing practices and etc. And if an infected tourist does come here and stay for a while, he/she may encounter 10-20 Bahamians (ok locals or natives) even before they reach their hotel room. Now multply that times the percentage out of 6 Million tourists that may be infected. "Houston we have a serious problem", very serious.

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tribanon 3 weeks, 2 days ago

You and your fellow Bahamians have got more problems than you could possibly ever imagine my friend.

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John 3 weeks, 2 days ago

But we will survive what about you? And I am not your friend. And don't want to be.

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tribanon 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Shucks...and to think I thought you were a people person. Of course I know Bahamians are survivors....so are the North Koreans.

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John 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Yes but this judgment is not about Bahamians or North Koreans

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John 3 weeks, 2 days ago

and furthermore , the world must start getting used to America NOT being America our forefathers knew. America will be transformed and the hands of power will change ( fo the ood or for the bad). When you see the looting and the property destruction and the discrimination going on over there, that is How America got her power. Ots not the Black people. when they (were still in slavery, America went around looting countries, burning Black people's homes, Indians and other communities to the ground and putting them into fear and submission. Donald Trump sicced the national guard on his own American people the went and hid in an underground bunker. The protesters of today are not those of yesterday. They come to get their tings!

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tribanon 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Your small mind has yet to figure out that the powers that be behind the US government are manipulating and using the protesters to achieve their desired goal of transforming the US into a military state. The global military industrial complex has for decades now been trying to arm and supply the US civilian police force with expensive military hardware and related systems. Doing away with the civilian police force and replacing it with the military would be a dream come true for the military industrial complex. This is big big business for those behind the military industrial complex including the State of Israel that has become a world leader in the development of the latest weapons and satellite surveillance systems. The conspiracy theories of yesterday are rapidly becoming the reality of today for those who are able to connect all of the dots. And to think those dumb US protesters have no idea of the real reason why they've been so deceitfully manipulated into chanting "defund the police". Like Covid-19, the killing of George Floyd is being very skillfully used to make the 0.01% of the super wealthiest on our planet even greatly richer.

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John 3 weeks, 2 days ago

As Donald Trump said to Black folk, "what do you have to lose?" So what do we have to lose? Not Lyford Cay, Not Old Fort Bay, Not Albany, Not Paradise Island, Not Sandy Port. When you put more burden on a poor man, you make him a greater survivor. Yes the Klan and the Skin Heads and other racist and extremists groups are using and manipulating the protestors. And that is why mainstream America is supporting the call for the killingsand mistreatment of Black people to stop. They now see what they will be up against if Black people and the mistreated Hispanics were to pack up and leave that country.

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tribanon 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Get some exercise, sun and fresh air. It will help you cope better with all that has happened and is about to happen. Unfortunately the worst is yet to come.

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John 3 weeks, 2 days ago

The biggest mistake this government is making is hoping and waiting for America to reopen. And as you see the violent protests are still escalating and the number of covid_19 cases increasing. So that may not happen any time soon. So you would expect a good portion of this borrowed money to go farmers to expand their farms and increase their production. Evena good amount of what America has produced had to be dumped because there was no one to harvest it or process it. The Bible and the Koran warns of perilous times.

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Opal55 3 weeks, 1 day ago

What everyone needs to realize is that blaming another country for coronavirus cases is pathetic and inhumane. Disease discriminating is terrible, especially coming from a country that thrive on tourism. The country was closed and still cases spread without foreign intervening. Small minded and tunnel vision people need to stop with the scorning. The country needs to open up because if the Bahamas claims to be a Christian nation then leave your faith in God hands. Yes I am a Bahamian but a open minded one, if you are frightened that your faith is sealed by a sickness then that's your problem. It's time to get back to life. I haven't got nothing from no one since the country lockdown. Nothing from Social Services, nothing from National Insurance Board. All because of they feel some family deserve more help than me. My life is just as important than any other citizen. I need to get back to my life because this is not living. This is just waiting in my house for death to kick in. The government should know that opening up the country before July 1st is best.

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