By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
DEPUTY Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen said he does not know why some Family Islands without COVID-19 cases have not been allowed to resume normal commercial activity, saying that is not a Ministry of Health level decision.
Meanwhile Carlton Bowleg says he is in talks with government officials to hopefully ease COVID-19 restrictions in the Berry Islands. Mr Bowleg, North Andros and Berry Islands MP, believes it may be an oversight that Berry Islands is still under strict measures.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis declared that Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros could resume normal commercial activity, joining other Family Islands that were given the greenlight earlier this month. The Berry Islands, Exuma, Eleuthera and San Salvador were not included on that list.
All Family Islands, as well as New Providence, are still under weekend lockdown and weekday curfew.
On Sunday, a representative from the Office of the Prime Minister said the government is being guided by medical professionals in making their guidelines.
Yesterday Dr Brennen was asked why islands like the Berry Islands, with no COVID-19 cases, were not considered when restrictions for the other islands were lifted.
“I honestly do not know,” Dr Brennen said. “I think that’s a Cabinet and Office of the Prime Minister level decision. That is not a Ministry of Health level decision.”
When reminded that the Prime Minister has often said he relies on the country’s COVID-19’s task force for advice on these matters, Dr Brennen said: “This decision is not on us. Well, from a health perspective I am not sure what those reasons are, but there are so many things that come into those decisions that are not health related so I think it would be better to ask those who make the decisions as to what went into the decision making as opposed to just health.”
For his part, Mr Bowleg hopes commercial activity can soon resume in the Berry Islands.
“The Berry Islands are doing very well when it comes to adhering to the rules of curfew,” Mr Bowleg said yesterday. “On the other hand, I think it’s just an (oversight) and I am in talks with the prime minister and with the authorities and I am sure the necessary adjustment will be made. There is no reason, in my opinion, why an adjustment shouldn’t be made very soon because there are no cases there and the people are adhering to the authority’s rules.
“Basically for commercial purposes I don’t see any reason why those islands are not open, unless it has something to do with tourists and Coco Cay, and that is not online right now. I am doing what I can to speak on their behalf and make sure that was an oversight and it will be taken care of very surely.”
Residents of cleared Family Islands can also travel to other approved islands without the need for a COVID-19 travel card.
Messages left for Berry Islands Island Administrator Joseph Ferguson were not returned up to press time.
The Berry Islands has a population of roughly 900 people and it covers about 30 square miles of the northwestern part of The Bahamas.