THE countdown to reopening has begun.
In tentatively naming a July 1 date for resuming commercial travel, as well as plans to start allowing inter-island travel for virus-free islands, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has given the country something to aim towards.
That date could well move, of course, depending on how well the country continues to recover – but there are encouraging signs, with a fourth day in a row of no new cases of COVID-19 being diagnosed in The Bahamas.
Already, more of the Family Islands are starting to resume commercial activity, with Cat Island, Long Island and Andros joining Ragged Island, Rum Cay, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins and Long Cay in being able to resume commercial operations.
Some names are notably missing from that list – such as Eleuthera, with Dr Minnis taking time in his speech to criticise a motorcade that took place there recently. He did not specify why Eleuthera – alongside San Salvador and Exuma, all of which have reported no cases, were not on the list of islands that could reopen, leaving us only to wonder if the motorcade played a part in that decision.
He also announced the introduction of a new travel card allowing people to travel between islands. Those wanting to travel would need to complete a questionnaire, and be evaluated by a doctor to determine their level of risk, before being issued a card if they are low-risk and have no symptoms. This is not a COVID-19 test, so there is some concern if individuals are carrying the virus but are not showing symptoms.
All of this can be undone, of course, if the number of cases spikes upwards. So we need to keep playing our part by following the curfews and lockdowns, washing our hands, wearing masks – and keeping our distance.
This is not the end of the battle to contain the virus – but it is perhaps the beginning of the end. The lifting of more measures and a return to something near normality – and the chance to see our families and friends again – is in sight.
Don’t neglect Dorian victims
As we focus on the new disaster affecting our islands, we must not lose sight of the previous disaster.
Hurricane Dorian ripped through Abaco and Grand Bahama nearly eight months ago – yet still so much is far from normal there.
For many, the biggest questions surround the people who have gone missing. Liann Key-Kaighin is one of those trying to put her life together without all the pieces of the puzzle – her aunt is one of the missing. Before the storm hit, she said in a phone call that she was born in the house she lived in and she was going to die there. Sadly, that came true – but her body has not been found.
Some of those bodies may be lying unidentified and unclaimed in a refrigerated trailer in Abaco, where 50 bodies were being kept.
The future of those bodies is uncertain at present – with the COVID-19 outbreak delaying a national service for those victims.
For Liann, she believes her aunt’s body is in the trailer, but she cannot get answers about that. She doesn’t even know who to go to at the moment.
So as we deal with COVID-19, don’t let us neglect those still picking up the pieces after Dorian. Their concerns should long have been dealt with before the pandemic – and they don’t deserve to be shunted aside now.