PLP Leader Philip "Brave" Davis.
MEMBERS of the Progressive Liberal Party chastised Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis for not allowing Exuma, Eleuthera and San Salvador to resume normal commercial activity like many other Family Islands without COVID-19 cases.
Singling out Eleuthera in particular yesterday, Dr Minnis reprimanded some residents there who took part in a recent motorcade.
In response, PLP leader Philip “Brave” Davis accused Dr Minnis of attacking “a small group of young people in South Eleuthera who drove in a motorcade in memory of their fallen friend.”
He also claimed that an FNM general and other representatives attended a funeral at a church in Eleuthera “with dozens of mourners reportedly without the necessary social distancing,” and questioned why Dr Minnis did not reference this. Mr Davis said the data is clear adding “there are no COVID-19 cases on Eleuthera, and none on Exuma or San Salvador with none suspected, and yet normal business cannot return. In contrast, close contact industries like construction are allowed to reopen. What is the scientific evidence that has driven him to that conclusion?”
Meanwhile, Exuma and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper said residents of Exuma are “deeply disappointed” in Dr Minnis’ national address. He also accused Dr Minnis of acting like “a dictator” who does not have to explain “nonsensical decisions” to the public.
Mr Cooper said: “The people of Exuma are deeply disappointed in the prime minister’s national address today (Sunday). There was no legitimate reason given for why Exuma cannot resume commercial activity while other Family Islands in the same circumstance are allowed to do so. The prime minister appears to be using the emergency powers granted to him to lord over the Bahamas as a dictator without having to explain the nonsensical decisions he is making to the people whom he serves. This puppeteering is unacceptable.”
Mr Cooper added: “I call on the competent authority to display some competence and either open Exuma for commercial activity or provide the medical explanation for why Exuma cannot operate as others can. In the absence of such an explanation, the prime minister’s decision appears unfair, arbitrary and perverse.”
In a separate statement, Senator Clay Sweeting Sweeting said the people of Eleuthera were left with more questions than answers after Dr Minnis’ address.
“We wonder if the prime minister has lost touch of why these lockdowns were initiated,” Mr Sweeting said. “He chastised the people of Eleuthera on a few occasions during his national addresses, but how long can a society remain locked up? Where is the scientific data to determine the extent to which these phases are implemented with zero cases and zero suspected cases?”
Yesterday, Dr Minnis announced that Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros can resume commercial activity today. Those islands join Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco, Andros, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, Rum Cay and Ragged Island, which were previously allowed to resume normal business.
Dr Minnis did not explain why Eluethera, Exuma and San Salvador have not had business restrictions relaxed like other Family Islands without confirmed COVID-19 cases. These islands, as well as Grand Bahama, Bimini and New Providence, have been under strict COVID-19 measures for roughly eight weeks.
Late last month, 13 people were charged in Exuma for breaking the 24-hour curfew to hold a beach party.
An official from the Office of the Prime Minister said all decisions on reopening are made on the advice of medical professionals. Attempts to reach a representative from the Ministry of Health for an explanation were unsuccessful up to press time.
Weekday curfews and weekend lockdowns remain in effect for the whole country.