FRIDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: There has been another confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Bahamas, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to four.
POLICE PUBLIC NOTICE
Police wish to advise the general public that pursuant to the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (NO.1) Order 2020 that is in effect between 9am March, 20th to 9am March, 31st the Royal Bahamas Police Force has established the information hotline number 311 and email: firstname.lastname@example.org for official correspondence purposes.
All businesses, corporations and companies requiring permission to commute the streets of The Bahamas during the mandatory curfew, must contact the information hotline number 311 for approval.
All businesses, corporations, companies and hoteliers that are exempted from the emergency order and whose employees are required to traverse the streets of the Bahamas during the mandatory curfew should provide a listing of employees via email email@example.com. Security Companies requiring their employees to be out during this period, must submit a listing to the aforementioned email address. Once the listing is provided there will be no need to contact the 311 information hotline.
All hotel workers, security guards and other essential workers that are required to be on the streets of The Bahamas during the curfew hours, must adorn their uniforms and be in possession of a work identification card.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force COVID-19 Command Center is open twenty-four hours. You may reach the Command Center at 326-871, 326-6346, 356-9455 and/or 322-1051. You may also contact the Command Center via WhatsApp number 806-6852. The public is advised to call 911 or 919 for emergencies and NOT 311.
The Public is hereby further notified that the Character Reference, Firearms Licensing and Chassis Check Offices of the Royal Bahamas Police Force are closed.
Persons being electronically monitored are reminded that in addition to their bail conditions, they are also required to abide by the stipulations of the Emergency Order.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force seeks the public’s cooperation with these changes in order to minimize unnecessary confrontation and possible subsequent arrests and inconvenience as we seek to keep The Bahamas safe and prevent further spread of the COVIF-19 Virus.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force thanks you for your cooperation while this Order remains in effect.
FRIDAY UPDATE: In addition to yesterday’s announcement, the government has said the following businesses and undertakings are exempt:
• A business licensed to provide security guard
• A life and health insurance broker and agency from 9am to 5pm
• A wholesale bakery from 9am to 5pm
• A hardware store, for the purposes of taking purchase orders from licensed contractors and delivery to the job-site from 9am to 5pm
• A credit union from 9am to 5pm and
• Arawak Port Development Company, New Providence
provided that only essential workers necessary for the performance of the core functions are utilized while adhering to at all times, the social distancing requirements specified in the Order.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced that a national curfew will take effect today, mandating people remain in their homes until March 31 between 9pm and 5am and that business operations, with few exceptions, be suspended.
He said the emergency order, a radical restriction on personal and business freedoms that will upend life in The Bahamas, was needed to prevent the spread of the highly contagious novel coronavirus. The order takes effect at 9am today, and will expire at 9am March 31.
Dr Minnis said the curfew will end after consultation with medical professionals. 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 order is a fine not exceeding $10,000 upon summary conviction or imprisonment for not more than 18 months or both.
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.
All other establishments, institutions, businesses or offices inclusive of the public service —as may be authorised by the respective permanent secretary — shall work from home. The order states that these places “shall maintain only essential staff for the performance of core functions while adhering at all times to social distancing” of three to six feet.
Asked to clarify, Mr Bethel said: “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.”
People will be disallowed from entering private parties that include people from outside the immediate household of the house’s 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 Defence 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 also said the government has recommended to Bahamas Power & Light that it defer payment of bills for an initial period of three months for residential customers who are diagnosed with the virus, are in quarantine or have been laid off.
The government will cover the cost of those bills, he said.
Dr Minnis said people who contravene the orders will be arrested. He said trucks and personnel working with gas stations have already been exempted from the curfew by the commissioner of police. Mr Bethel also told reporters that security firms and bakeries will be exempted from the orders.
The order does not prohibit individual attendance at a church for private individual prayer while maintaining social distancing.
Dr Minnis said the Doctors Hospital facility on Blake Road is being secured for COVID-19.
“There are some who may be concerned, what may happen if a patient is COVID positive and on dialysis, I can assure you that such facility has (a) dialysis machine in place should the need arise,” he said.
Dr Minnis said nurses who have completed their training and examinations will be appointed immediately to boost frontline staff. He also stressed there was adequate food, medical supplies and fuel in the country. He said ports remain open for freight and cargo and the country’s airports will remain open as well.