Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis. (File photo)
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis gave notice in the House of Assembly yesterday evening of his intention to extend the country’s state of emergency until December 28.
The current emergency resolution ends on November 30.
The move came as a surprise last night as many expected the orders to end this month.
Last month, the prime minister said the discontinuation of COVID-19 Emergency Powers Orders would depend on an improvement of virus-related cases.
And the situation has made a turn for the better.
On Tuesday, Ministry of Health officials reported 11 new COVID-19 cases for a total of 7,323. Twenty-three people are currently hospitalised with the virus and there have been 163 deaths to date. On Monday, there were 56 newly confirmed cases, whereas on Sunday there were 30 new cases.
On Saturday there were 40 cases. The previous day, health officials said there were 23 new cases.
The two days prior saw a combination of 112 cases.
These numbers pale by comparison to the rise in cases – more than 400 in the immediate days ahead of the last extension of emergency orders.
The draft resolution for the impending extension says it “continues to be necessary and expedient for securing the public safety, the defence of the Bahamas, the maintenance of public order, the suppression of mutiny, rebellion and riot, and for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life and well-being of the community to continue in force, the second proclamation, the Emergency Powers (COVID-19 Pandemic) Regulations, 2020…”
Last month, 14 MPs voted in favour of extending the state of emergency resolution and zero voted against it. There were 24 parliamentarians absent from the vote. Many of them were absent because of COVID-19 curfew rules or because they had been exposed to the virus and could not attend parliamentary proceedings.
Former Health Minister Dr Duane Sands joined opposition MPs in saying he did not support extending the emergency orders.
Reacting last month to news of the emergency resolution’s extension, Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip “Brave” Davis said the country has “proclamation fatigue.”
During a speech in Parliament yesterday, the prime minister implored Bahamians to continue following health protocols like wearing a mask, adhering to physical distancing, washing hands regularly and avoiding large gatherings and social events.
“As we have seen on other islands, and as domestic and international tourists begin to travel to more Family Islands, there is a greater likelihood of the spread of the virus,” he said.
Governor General CA Smith initially made a proclamation of emergency on March 17, 2020.