Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
Tourism Minister Dionsio D’Aguilar said yesterday he doesn’t believe he should have resigned along with former Health Minister Dr Duane Sands because of his involvement in allowing six permanent residents entry in the country nearly two weeks ago.
Speaking ahead of a Cabinet meeting yesterday, he told reporters: “I honestly think enough has been said about this. I think it’s been ventilated. I think the prime minister has spoken to it and I think Dr Sands has spoken to it. I don’t think I did anything wrong and I’ve moved on. I think we should all do the same.”
His comments came a little over a week after Dr Sands offered his resignation to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis for his actions related to the six residents who landed in the country with COVID-19 testing supplies and were allowed to quarantine at home before producing a negative COVID-19 test result.
Former Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe connected Dr Sands with donors who supplied 2,500 test swabs that cost $11,250, prompting an effort by the health minister to get the swabs here.
Dr Sands got approval from Mr D’Aguilar for an aircraft to deliver the supplies to the country. He then contacted Immigration Director Clarence Russell who arranged his requests for the passengers.
Mr D’Aguilar told Dr Sands officials had been insisting that people coming to the country provide a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry. The Freetown MP deferred to the health minister to make the call and Dr Sands allowed the passengers entry without testing them.
Addressing the topic during a national address last week, Dr Minnis said the protocol for allowing Bahamians and legal residents to enter the country was breached.
The controversial episode, however, is not the first time people have been allowed to disembark in the country since the government implemented a lockdown.
On Sunday, Dr Minnis announced that 12 people have been allowed in the country during the lockdown period. This does not include the government’s recent repatriation exercises of those Bahamians stuck abroad.
Among those allowed in are the six permanent residents who brought test kits and were allowed to self-isolate in their home.
Of the 12 people allowed in the country during the lockdown, two were Bahamian citizens, one was a permanent resident and three were work permit holders “being skilled technicians contracted to conduct specialised emergency work for utility services,” Dr Minnis said.
Dr Minnis has since taken on the temporary role of minister of health.