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30 More Days? Bethel Suggests Extension To Lockdown Likely

Attorney General Carl Bethel.

Attorney General Carl Bethel.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

WHEN Parliament convenes on Monday it will likely agree to extend the 24-hour curfew based on the recommendation of medical experts.

These experts have recommended the curfew be extended for at least another 30 days, according to Attorney General Carl Bethel. However, he later added a 14-day extension may also be discussed.

Speaking ahead of a Cabinet meeting, Mr Bethel also said it was possible the government’s clampdown would become stricter, saying bank closures were among the considerations. However, the decision would be based on the advice of medical professionals.

He said yesterday: “The House of Assembly is scheduled to meet on Monday to debate the question of extending the curfew, but I can let Bahamians know that first of all we are in close consultation with the opposition and they agree that we should follow the medical advice of the medical professionals, and at a meeting held with them a few days ago, the strong advice from the medical practitioners who are leading this fight is that we must extend the curfew for at least another 30 days.”

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis imposed a 9pm-5am curfew which began last Friday. On Monday, the curfew was extended to 24 hours. The curfew and other restrictions contained in two emergency orders are set to expire on March 31.

When asked if stricter measures are coming to fight the spread of COVID-19, Mr Bethel said: “We can get stricter but right now, for example, we could shut down all the banks forthwith on the basis and understanding that most persons have some form or method of withdrawing cash from banks and there are deposit machines.

“These are ATM machines both for the purposes of deposits and withdrawal and that the majority of workers in this country receive their payments by electronic means in any event so these are all things to be considered.”

Following Cabinet, Mr Bethel called in to a local talk show, explaining yesterday’s lockdown came after advice from medical experts.

He said the newest emergency order, which mandated the closure of airports and seaports, came out of great concern from officials about Bahamians crowding beaches at the weekend. The new order came into force Tuesday at 9am.

“. . . The health professionals were somewhat concerned particularly as a result of what occurred over the weekend where there were beach parties along the length and breadth of the country as a matter of fact and enormous amounts of close social contact for protracted periods,” he said on 96.9FM’s The Revolution with Juan McCartney.

“So these were the matters that kind of compelled the government because the medical professionals were extremely concerned.

“So what will happen on Monday (in Parliament) is that there will be a resolution and the resolution will be debated and tabled at that time with the possibility of a 30-day or perhaps another 14-day extension depending mostly on medical advice.”

While some have applauded the government for the measures, others have said they have gone too far with the closure of liquor stores. Mr Bethel said the government considered listing these stores as exempt but ultimately decided to keep these businesses closed.

As for the ability to move under the 24-hour curfew, he said everyone has the right to leave their homes for essential reasons.

He was asked on The Revolution if police could deny citizens this right. However, he stressed that police officers, according to the order, do have the discretion when it comes to movement.

“No, no, no, no. Everybody has a right to leave their homes for an essential purpose or to obtain an essential service. You have a right to go to the pharmacy, a right to go to the doctor, a right to go and buy food or get takeaway food et cetera. Nobody can tell you you can’t do that because that is a right that is retained for the citizen on the basis that these are essential services.

“What is being restricted is the ability to just hop in my car and say I’ll just go for a drive. If I as a citizen am stopped by police, they are entitled to ask and you are advised to answer where are you going in that car,” Mr Bethel said.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 5 days ago

Bethel said: ".....the strong advice from the medical practitioners who are leading this fight is that we must extend the curfew for at least another 30 days.”

Most people naturally think Minnis and Sands are the two medical practitioners leading the fight against Covid-19 and, as such, have recommended the curfew be made more restrictive and extended by 30-days.

Closing the banks and liquor stores may not be such a good idea. The banks should remain open to keepl confidence in our country's financial system and avoid a cash run. And everyone knows the propensity for alcoholics who cannot imbibe to quickly go berserk.

Keeping Bahamians cooped up in their homes for a long period of time seems to be driven more by the fear of widespread looting and violent crime than by the Red China Virus. No doubt government is most concerned about the possibility of a serious breakdown in civilization triggered by mass unemployment. But keeping people cooped up for an inordinate period of time is bound to cause great civil unrest. As President Trump put it: "We should not let the cure become worse than the problem itself."

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DDK 1 week, 5 days ago

Exactly, Mudda. Why don't these leaders understand the amount of strain they are putting on an already stressed public that does not have the same means as the phat katz to have stockpiled necessites and libations indefinitely? I suspect they may understand but simply do not care.

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bogart 1 week, 5 days ago

You have a point there....after previous govt imposed regressive VAT affecting poor hardest....and...then next govt agreed with regressive VAT and further imposed more. Some 6,000 meals provided by ONE feeding agency and thousands of free meals provided by other Charitable agencies and many Churches Soup Kitchens. Public already sees everday lines. Seems politicians ought to be aware of the demographics of how many voters and children living in urban renewalinner city densely populated areas when 2 weeks before elections in providing free political tee - shirts, free caps, free refreshments, free pompoms, free plates of chicken wings an macaroni an cheese, free political rallys an live good musical concerts, jobs galore, mabye some seems to have a surprise gift in tee shirt........sooooooo....where ate all these delegations, generals, political operators....in rendering assistance in these inner city small size less tiny homes ...as these people realize they have to remain in their homes??????.....And Bless the hearts of the Charitable Organizations and Churches who catered to throngs of people who came out of their homes needing food.

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proudloudandfnm 1 week, 5 days ago

I am at home, not being paid, not rich, it's gonna be very tough. But I support a 30 day extension fully....

The rest of you need to just shut the f-ck up, you obviously do not understand the nature of this episode. So just shut the hell up...

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 5 days ago

Hang touch my friend.....Minnis, Sands and Bethel might be expecting you to hunker down where you are until such time that everyone in the country can be tested and/or vaccinated later this year or next year.

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joeblow 1 week, 5 days ago

... but you have some grass to keep you mellow, right?

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observer2 1 week, 5 days ago

proudloudandfnm. everyone supports the curfew and there is still freedom of speech in the Country so long as we provide accurate information.

What Mudda and DDK are saying is that our citizens have been overburdened with taxes, a lack of economic diversification to the point where we don't even produce any eggs or chickens or anything except a tourism product and no vision for the future.

Bahamian's are unified to conquer CoVID 19 but we need more. We need a vision for the development of our Country other than distroying the seabed for oil or Disney placing a global warming tourist park on the most beautiful beach in the world on Eletheria.

We can do better than just reacting to natural disasters like Dorian. What will we do when Dorian II strikes in September of this year?

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Eve 1 week, 5 days ago

Do not do this. We do not have the supplies necessary for a month lock down. And there is no need. The 4 cases here have already been released from hospital. I hope you did test them to ensure they do not have the virus.

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OriginalBey 1 week, 5 days ago

There's a new case in GB and we are just getting test kits. When testing starts, the picture will look different.

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