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Editorial: Get Off The Roads And Stay At Home

STILL too many people on the road – that’s the key point to be drawn from the latest tightening of regulations to curtail movement.

A food shopping schedule – you shop on the day allocated according to the first letter of your surname – will be the latest adjustment to life in The Bahamas under coronavirus.

Police will step up enforcement of the current curfew too. Public parks will be closed.

Is the message hitting home yet? As Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said yesterday, “This virus is harder than even the hardest of heads in this country… there are still too many people on the road.”

More measures announced yesterday are voluntary – asking those aged 75 and older not to leave their homes at all, and urging those between the ages of 65 and 74 to work from home. Each household is urged to have one designated shopper. These may be advisory – but for goodness sake treat them as if they’re the law.

That’s how we beat this, by doing everything we can to stop contact between people. The virus can only spread if people carry it to one another. Stop that, and we stop the virus.

The surge in cases has begun – we were up to 14 last night, a doubling in the number of cases in just four days. We must be under no illusions that it can’t double again. Or again.

If somehow you haven’t heard the message before, it’s this: Stay home. Tell your family. Tell your friends. Keep the door closed. Sit this one out.

At the same time, the government is playing its part in trying to help people financially affected by the virus. Measures on rent support are coming. Other measures are being discussed in the Ministry of Finance.

Dr Minnis called for people to be part of a “citizen’s army”, doing what is necessary to fight this virus. If this is a war, it’s one you can win from your home. Past generations have had to go to war with a gun in their hand, uncertain if they would ever come back home. This battle we fight with our family by our side and the only weapon we need is the door we close between ourselves and the outside world and a good habit of washing our hands.

It’s not much to ask – so enlist in the fight, and keep your friends and family on the side that’s right.

BPL in a precarious position

Perhaps one of the most predictable problems we would face with this coronavirus outbreak is one that haunted us in a different way last summer – Bahamas Power & Light.

BPL faces a different dilemma this time. It’s not a power shortage, it’s a money shortage. The power provider has struggled with its debts for a long time and now the bond refinancing that was to help it restructure those debts is not looking likely any time soon.

Instead, BPL is left with a sudden glut of customers who have lost their jobs in the tourism shutdown and are going to struggle to pay their electric bill. Minister of Works Desmond Bannister revealed this month’s collections were the lowest in five years. BPL still has to keep pumping out the power so its costs remain high. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that with costs running the same and income dropping that BPL has a problem.

There are talks afoot to try to take advantage of the reduced price of oil on the market at present, but that’s not straightforward either. Customers who can pay should pay – that’ll help BPL in this moment – but whether that will be enough in this unprecedented time is a question that does not have an answer yet.

But if you can reach into your pocket and pay what you owe? Now’s the time to settle up.

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