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Fears As Bimini Gets Ready For Lockdown

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

RESIDENTS of Bimini said while they have prepared “as best they could” for the two-week lockdown which begins today but fear provisions may not be enough for some households struggling to make ends meet.

Pertrisa Saunders from Bailey Town, Bimini, said she is mostly concerned for single parent households on the island, who may not have sufficient supplies to last during the two-week period.

Mrs Saunders said while she believes the government is doing all it can to address the needs of the less fortunate in the community, she does not think it will be enough.

“Personally, I’m prepared, but some persons are not as fortunate as (others),” she said.

“You hear (people) saying ‘oh they send plenty of food’ but everybody is not going to be straight because some homes like I told you have extended family. Some homes have a lot of children. Some homes have single parents.

“And for them, I feel for them and I guess the government is doing as much as they could.”

After Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced a two-week lockdown for Bimini last week, the government’s National Food Committee along with the Department of Social Services began distributing meal vouchers to residents there.

However, according to Mrs Saunders, not everyone on the island has been able to receive the vouchers.

She said: “Everybody didn’t get a food coupon. They’re making it sound like everyone got one, but not every person on Bimini got a coupon.

“From what I’m hearing, some got $80 and personally, I talked to a church member and they got only like $84 so it wasn’t even $100 the government claiming; it’s not true. I guess they gave it based on income or whatever, but for a lot of people it was not $100.

“So my heart goes out to the ones who don’t have it for two weeks. And we only have a boat coming in here once a week. Those boats that come in – the ones from Nassau. They bring in sufficient supplies for a week.”

Another resident, Oslien Jadorte also expressed similar concerns to The Tribune, saying the unprecedented nature of the lockdown has even forced people to go in “panic buying” mode.

“A little bit of panic buying is happening understandably because for two weeks, some persons don’t know how they’re going to make it but there’s a lot of panic buying going on,” he said.

“The boat was delayed and there’s another boat coming from Freeport (today) but the only problem with that is it won’t be here until 5 so that only gives us a four hour window to disembark everything and deliver it to the stores or to the individuals.”

“So, that will be a challenge, but Bimini is a tough place. We’ve been through a lot of adversities that we have overcome so I expect us to be okay with this one as well.”

While there is some concern about meeting the food needs of vulnerable members in the community, Mr Jadorte said residents on the island are committed to ensuring that no one goes hungry during the lockdown.

“…We have our churches and other organisations who are doing their part to make sure that families are provided with groceries,” he said.

“We have a Christian Council that have made themselves available that in the midst of the lockdown, if persons find themselves in a predicament there are hotlines in place where you can call and of course, the island administrator, the Royal Bahamas Police Force (have given permission) that if anything needs to be delivered to persons who can’t move, those measures are put in place,” he said.

“So, we’re going to be fine.”

For some residents, there are other concerns, such as when certain essential services on the island will be able to resume.

Bimini resident Ginger Maddox said: “Yes, we have the food supplies that we expect to need, and we are content to stay on our property.

“(But) we’re concerned about garbage collection. We haven’t had garbage collection in two weeks, and we don’t want to go another two weeks without garbage collection, so I don’t know whether that’s something that’s going to be permitted during the lockdown or not.”

Alfred Sweeting added: “I think we’re prepared. It’s not something we’ve had to do… and I’m not quite sure whether this is necessary, but I agree with giving it a try. It’s all very new and I’m not quite certain that this is going to do it, but I am deemed to give it a try. “

To date, there are 13 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Bimini, which has been labelled as a COVID-19 hotspot.

If more cases were to arise on the island, COVID-19 task-force coordinator Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis has said health officials will consider extending the lockdown period.

“The lockdown periods are for 14 days and we’re dealing with averages and the recommended protocols,” she said during a press conference at the Ministry of Health on Friday.

“If we continue to have cases during this period of time, new cases during the 14-day period we will certainly look at consideration that would promote a longer lockdown, but we will have to be sure that they will have enough food and other support services are in place.”

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