Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis speaks to the media.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis ordered that beginning Friday people remain indoors for the next eleven days between 9pm and 5am and that business operations, with few exceptions, be suspended.
He said the curfew and other orders, drastic restrictions on personal and business freedoms that will upend life in the Bahamas, were needed to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus.
He gave the order a day after presenting sweeping emergency COVID-19 powers in the House of Assembly.
Attorney General Carl Bethel, explaining what compliance with the curfew must entail, said: “Persons should be in their homes if their homes are affixed to the soil in some matter, they may go in the immediate area in their yard but not if it’s an open yard over to someone else’s home and not to mingle with any occupant of any other house unless the yard is enclosed.”
The penalty for breaking the orders is a fine not exceeding $10,000 upon summary conviction or imprisonment for not more than 18 months or both.
Dr Minnis ordered that people in establishments or businesses distance themselves from others at a minimum of three to six feet.
Establishments, institutions, businesses, offices, stores and organisations will have to suspend operations to the general public under the prime minister’s order. Exemptions include: wholesale or retail grocery stores and farmers markets; pharmacies, gas stations, laundromats and wash houses for hygienic purposes from 6am to 5pm; banks from 9am to 5pm; construction companies doing construction work from 6am to 7pm, drive through or take-away food vendors from 6am to 7.30pm, doctors offices, hospitals or medical facilities, medical supply establishments, hotels and airports.
“Any business that caters to the general public, so the public can just walk in, is a business that if not specifically exempted, that business needs to work from home,” Mr Bethel said.
People will be disallowed from entering private parties that include people from outside the immediate household of the house occupant and from attending meetings of fraternal societies, private or social clubs or civic associations.
People will also be barred from recreational or competitive sporting events, social events, banquets, receptions, weddings hosting ten or more people other than the bride, bridegroom, official witnesses and the marriage officer and funerals except ten members of the immediate family and at least one officiant and essential mortuary staff.
People will not be allowed to travel via public buses or mail boats – except for transport of freight – or inter-island private commercial sea transport that is non-essential.
Essential officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Royal Bahamas Defense Force, Fire Services, Department of Correctional services, National Insurance Board, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Environmental Health Services, the Department of Immigration, the Customs Department, waste and sanitation workers and staff within any hospital or health care or medical facility are not affected by the order.
Essential officers of water, electricity or other sectors encompassing the provision of electronic communications, including print and electronic media, are also not affected by the order.
Dr Minnis said people who contravene the orders will be arrested.