PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis pictured yesterday.
Photo: Terrel W Carey Sr/Tribune Staff
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday warned Bahamians against celebrating Thanksgiving outside of their homes, saying they may give their families and friends the “gift of COVID” if they gather for the usual social events.
He also repeated his plea for residents not to travel to the United States unless absolutely necessary as that country continues to struggle with a surge of COVID-19 cases.
His comments during an event marking the official opening of the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation’s new building on East Street Hill comes as The Bahamas has seemingly arrested control of the COVID-19 health crisis, with only 18 cases of the virus confirmed on Sunday and only 21 people in hospital with the disease at last report.
“I want to advise Bahamians that next week is Thanksgiving and very soon it is Christmas,” Dr Minnis said.
“We must not let our guards down, we must continue our social distancing and wearing of masks.
“We must follow the advice even of the CDC in the United States of America who has advised its citizens to minimise the participation in Thanksgiving dinner.
“(The CDC) advised that they should participate only within their homes as opposed to travelling with others as this can assist with spreading the COVID disease.
“I advise Bahamians who participate in Thanksgiving to do the same. They should stay in their own home environment as was said by the Centre for Disease Control and minimise your travel to partake with others.
“Rather than giving your friends, neighbours or colleagues a gift of Christmas, you may possibly give them a gift of COVID, which can be extremely dangerous and detrimental.
“I would also advise all Bahamians who want and have made arrangements to travel to our neighbours in the north, I would advise that only those that are of emergency and absolutely essential to travel because the virus has no boundaries. The virus can be brought back to our shores and thus destroy our Christmas.
“Not only that, but our hotels are about to open. This could commence a third surge within our Commonwealth.
“A third surge can be worse than the second surge and it may result in further stagnation of our economy as our hotels which are already making plans and preparations to open and our young people who are already making plans and preparation stop commence employment, they too can be compromised and not be able to start their work.”
Dr Minnis said there is light at the end of the tunnel of the COVID-19 crisis, pointing to recent good news regarding vaccines.
“We must still not let our guard down,” he cautioned.
“We must practice the protocols that have been established and await the vaccines.
“But if we want a beautiful Christmas then I would advise that we follow the protocols and do not let our guard down and minimise any travel that you have to our northern neighbours, but try to utilise your travel within The Bahamas.
“We have beautiful islands and it’s only guests, visitors and tourists who recognise the beauty of The Bahamas.
“Many want to come and I am certain that those in the Family Islands will welcome you. Many of our islands are COVID free, let us utilise the services there.”