By EARYEL BOWLEG
EXUMA resident Genia Knowles came to New Providence to support her fiancee who had minor surgery in March and has been stuck here since the COVID-19 border closures.
The 31-year-old and her partner have been in the capital for almost two months and are ready to go home as their six-year-old daughter is in Exuma without her parents. She admitted to The Tribune yesterday that it has been rough for the couple as the ordeal has been “draining” for them physically and financially.
“When we set out to come for that minor surgery, we didn’t have this plan and although we had an emergency back up, that already run out with him not being able to go back home before they had the lockdown. Now like how they (partially) open up and people could go to work, he still can’t work. So, there’s no income.”
She is staying with family, but that situation is draining her mentally as she wants to be home and recognises her relatives are probably tired of them staying at their dwelling.
The Tribune met Ms Knowles outside the Department of Social Services’ office on Baillou Hill Road. The William’s Town local was looking for assistance, but said what is being given is not enough.
“... To come here and you getting like $50-$60 and that’s all you could get,” Ms Knowles said. “I rather not even come here because going to the shop and trying to shop with that after you then pick up one or two things and then they add VAT, that’s it.”
Exuma, along with San Salvador and Eleuthera, were not announced by the prime minister in his address this week to resume commercial activities, despite these islands not having any confirmed COVID-19 cases. No explanation was given as to why these islands have been left under strict guidelines.
However, the green light was given to Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros. These islands joined the list with Ragged Island, Rum Cay, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins and Long Cay which had already resumed commercial operations earlier this month.
Only residents of cleared Family Islands stuck in New Providence or Grand Bahama will be permitted to travel back home in the first phase of the government’s reopening of domestic travel. Domestic travellers must obtain a COVID-19 travel card unless they are travelling from one cleared Family Island to another.
Individuals will have to register with the Ministry of Health by emailing email@example.com or calling 511 and must have an evaluation by a Ministry of Health authorised physician in the public or private sector.
Ms Knowles had been waiting for domestic travel to be allowed to her island and felt disappointed to learn that was still not being granted. She pointed out how the government authorised the return of Bahamians from the US and should extend the same to Family islanders.
She added: “I just want to know why the prime minister is dancing round Exuma and I feel as if he gonna repatriate all these people from the United States, which is way overseas. It shouldn’t be no problem repatriating the people from Exuma after they gone through all that screening and the corona test.”
“..I don’t think we should have to wait this long honestly. Like if you could bring all the people home from last week like I say earlier you could do it again because some of us ain’t here on leisure or vacation or nothing. We actually have lives to get back to.
“I’m talking about the Family Islanders that are stuck here and can’t get home. Nassau ain’t they home and some people don’t even know nobody over here. So if they run out of money, ain’t everybody gonna be lucky and say ‘okay, fall back on people who I know.’”