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Eleuthera residents unhappy - but officials say measures necessary

By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT

tsmith-cartwright@tribunemedia.net

WHILE Eleuthera residents are up in arms about newly imposed COVID-19 restrictions, officials on the island are satisfied the right measures have been taken.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced movement restrictions for the island where there are 117 COVID-19 cases. During the week, from Monday to Friday, a daily curfew will be in effect from 6pm to 5am on the island. Commercial activity will only continue during non-curfew hours.

Domestic flights or sea vessels travelling in to or out of Eleuthera are prohibited, except in the case of an emergency. Police Commissioner Paul Rolle told The Tribune yesterday the number of Royal Bahama Police Force officers in Eleuthera has been increased to 135.

Island Administrator, Whelma Colebrook, in an interview with The Tribune yesterday said her position has not changed in that she welcomes lockdowns as a necessary tool.

“The Prime Minister can only go by guidelines from the health officials,” said Ms Colebrook. “And, so we have to abide by those guidelines. The Prime Minister is trying to save lives so we have to adhere to the rules and regulations of The Bahamas government.

“Once we do that, we can mitigate COVID-19. In terms of the spread, you have persons leaving other islands and coming to Eleuthera for funerals and weddings and gatherings. That might have caused the spread as we have had several funerals.”

About two weeks ago Administrator Colebrook said it was her hope that all of Eleuthera, including Spanish Wells and Harbour Island, be locked down to curb the spread of COVID-19.

However, only mainland Eleuthera received restrictions.

Asked how both islands escaped the restrictions, she said: “I cannot say why he chose not to lock down Spanish Wells or Harbour Island.

“I cannot speak for the Competent Authority, but I know he said main Eleuthera, North, South and Central with the exception of Harbour Island and Spanish Wells. Why he did that, I do not know. You will have to ask him how he came to that conclusion.

“I can only abide by the information and guidelines he has passed down to us from the health officials. He said he would send additional manpower (police) which is needed so persons can adhere to the lock down on weekends.”

For his part, Commissioner Rolle said static checkpoints and mobile patrols are planned for the island.

“We will be policing the lockdown in Eleuthera with static checkpoints and mobile patrols,” the Commissioner explained. “We have bolstered the numbers on the ground to 135 officers who will be enforcing the curfew beginning this evening.

“Additionally, we have deployed two of our go-fast boat interceptors to bolster the police marine resources to four.

“These will be used to prevent persons from leaving the island by sea and are capable of getting to Nassau in 25 minutes from Eleuthera. I have directed my Transport Officer to dispatch additional mobile interceptors to assist with land mobility. I have dispatched the Assistant Commissioner of Family Island Operations to Eleuthera to head this curfew and lockdown operation.”

Some residents in Eleuthera voiced concern about the new restrictions yesterday

“I think that the lockdown is insensitive,” said Danielle Gibson.

“I think that the Prime Minister is over-reacting. And, I think that they are not taking into consideration all of the variables. I do not think they have made a decision in the best interest of the people of Eleuthera. I came to this conclusion because the health team cited that the people of Eleuthera are not wearing masks and not abiding by the COVID-19 rules.

“You went to a bar; you saw that there was a gathering at a bar. If there are more than 20 people at an establishment then they are in breach of the law. The people who enforce the law are called police officers. So call them and have them do what they are supposed to do and shut the place down or cite those persons who are breaking the law.

“So, the residents of the community who adhere to the practices should not be held at the same standard as those people who blatantly break the law.”

Ms Gibson said the residents are also angry that there is a lack of proper testing on the island.

She said that since March, Eleuthera has only shown 117 positive COVID-19 cases and this, in her opinion, is not only an inaccurate number, but insufficient to shut an island down.

“You cannot put Eleuthera on quarantine saying that we have 117 cases,” she said. “We have had 117 cases since March. Be forthcoming with the people and say how many people have recovered. That pissed us all off. What is so unfair about that is that while Nassau and Abaco are on lock down commercial flights were approved to fly.

“Over 30 people in Spanish Wells have tested positive for COVID-19 yet Spanish Wells remains opened. In terms of Harbour Island, I applaud Ricky Mackey (Member of Parliament) for speaking on behalf of the business community of Harbour Island because essentially, they are the bread and butter of The Bahamas.”

Another resident, Cassandra Davis, called for more testing and also does not agree with the weekend lockdown of that island.

She said: “This is another assault on Bahamian people as far as I am concerned. We are locked up with no real testing being done so all we are hearing is ‘Eleuthera numbers are high! Lock the place down!’ This government seems like the only solution they have for COVID is to lock up everyone like prisoners. What they need to investigate is how much testing is going on.

“The law needs to be enforced and that’s the problem. Enforce the law and stop locking people down like animals. I guess that’s much too easy to do. I am just fed up about this whole situation and I can assure you that the residents of Eleuthera upset to the max about this. We don’t care who is saying they welcome it. That person is getting their salary regardless of how much lock down this government puts on the people of this country. Who feels it, knows it,” she’s said.

Comments

truetruebahamian 1 year, 9 months ago

Once again Colebrook and Johnson and Minnis are not effectively utilising their brain cells.

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happyfly 1 year, 9 months ago

https://www.newsweek.com/eu-surpasses...">https://www.newsweek.com/eu-surpasses...

Europe locked down intensively all summer and soon as they came out of lockdown cases have spiked worse than ever. At some point, the 'cult of covid' is going to have to admit that the only thing lockdowns do is prolong the agony and destroy economies

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Clamshell 1 year, 9 months ago

Nassau consistently ignores Eleuthera, treats it like a red-headed stepchild ... and now Nassau is SHOCKED that Eleutherans have been ignoring their dictates. What goes ‘round, comes ‘round.

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