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COVID pandemic ‘will be with us for a long time’

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Attorney General Carl Bethel speaking to the media outside the House of Assembly.

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel predicted yesterday that the coronavirus pandemic will likely be with us for a long time, adding suggestions that an end to the COVID-19 Emergency Power Orders will allow for a quicker return to normalcy are simply not realistic.

Mr Bethel made the comments in the Senate yesterday during a debate on a resolution for an extension of the COVID-19 emergency orders to November.

The Senate later passed the resolution.

He was responding to Progressive Liberal Senator Dr Michael Darville, who accused Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis of mismanaging the Emergency Powers Orders and failing to protect the public.

Dr Darville also repeated PLP leader Phillip Brave Davis’ comments that new legislation to replace the current emergency orders should have been enacted long ago.

He said their failure to yet do so more than a year later points to the government’s lack of planning.

“What really hurts is over the last year, we could’ve passed legislation that would’ve allowed for the much-needed oversight of our public healthcare measures to fight this pandemic, but here we are literally on the eve of the general election sending out legislation for consultation,” Dr Darville said in the upper chamber yesterday.

“And no one is saying how long the consultative process will be after a year and a half. You’re just now seeing it fit to consult the Bahamian people. I say this is a total neglect and disregard to the Bahamian people and this FNM Cabinet and the government should hang their heads down in shame for allowing the competent authority to run us up on breaks like this.”

He added: “…Unlike the government, the Progressive Liberal Party has a plan for this country and the plan to fight COVID-19 and we stand ready to do our part in the fight against this deadly virus. We on this side have been bold enough to share our economic plan and our COVID-19 ten-point plan action.”

Responding, Mr Bethel said he believed it’s unrealistic to make Bahamians believe that an end to the COVID-19 emergency orders will solve the nation’s current problems.

He conceded that any responsible government would implement protocols to ensure public adherence of the health measures in view of this health crisis and said any political party that suggests otherwise is being “disingenuous.”

“Unfortunately, the opposition seems to paint the picture that if we get rid of the emergency orders, suddenly it will all be lala land and everybody will be happy, happy. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and simply not as we say practicable, I guess the Bahamians would say,” Mr Bethel said.

“I know the opposition would wish the create the impression in the mind of the voting public that somehow they will make all of these suspension of civil liberties go away if they were to be elected and it’ll all be happy land again and we’d be back to normal and we can get together in the bars and we’ll take our cocktails and go to parties and shake it all up and go to the disco, but it will not happen no matter what the legal regime is. Whether it’s constitutional or under the Constitution, it will not happen and I think it’s disingenuous for people to suggest or imply if you vote for me, we’ll be in happy land again.”

He added: “Even the leader of the opposition had to, in passing, at least concede the reality: COVID-19 is with us for a long time. Any responsible government will have to have in their possession the arsenal of weapons to assist, part of that is vaccines, part of that is persuasion but another aspect of it once you’ve given the guidance on what is needed to be done to protect yourself as an individual the ability to enforce such rules of conduct.”

Mr Bethel continued: “Any suggestion by members of opposition that somehow they can have necessary and safe behaviour to protect this nation as a whole from this now apparently endemic contagion without a legal framework to enforce where necessary compliance is disingenuous in the extreme.

“Even this bill, if enacted, will arm the government with the necessary powers under the Constitution, yes to suspend civil liberties where to do so is justifiable in the circumstances and proportional to the threat being addressed.”

He was referring to the draft Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Management Bill which was tabled in the House of Assembly this week.

“There is not any time in the foreseeable future where we’re going to be back in happy land where we were before March of 2020 and every doctor, including some in here, knows that as well as I know it and so, Madam President, it is where we are as a nation. This is where the world is.”

Comments

John 10 months, 3 weeks ago

ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel predicted yesterday that the coronavirus pandemic will likely be with us for a long time, adding suggestions that an end to the COVID-19 Emergency Power Orders will allow for a quicker return to normalcy are simply not realistic. .

. History has shown that these viruses die off after a few years, of only because of the way they function, Corona viruses attack in waves across populations and they mutate to become more effective. When they are limited in transmission either because of populations becoming fully infected, isolated or taking other measures to mitigate the virus then they become weak and eventually die off or become seasonal, like the common flu. . . This Covid-19 virus should soon be gone and it is only how the authorities ( globally) handled the attempt at global vaccinations that cause the virus to persist and probably even become more infectious and widespread.

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DDK 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Another one that can't let go of the power trip. Why don't these guys get a life? Covid and it's spawn will be around as long as there's money to be made!

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JokeyJack 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Well let us hope that nobody out there is making new variants and new viruses. Of course, it is not allowed to even suggest that, let alone begin looking for such persons. No investigation has been done at Wuhan or at Fort Detrick, and now it is way past time that any investigator could hope to uncover any "fresh" evidence.

If there are guilty persons, then they will go unpunished - and since nobody is looking to see if new strains are being deliberately planted (since that is a conspiracy theory and cannot be entertained) then their next round of viruses will go equally unpunished, and so on, and so on.

When the police don't even bother to hunt bank robbers, lots of banks gonna get robbed.

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whogothere 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Wow in the first quarter of 2021 you were likely to die of murder than COVID... 28 murders versus 17 covid deaths...

www.ewnews.com/killings-on-the-rise-m... www.ewnews.com/rising-violence-murder...

Covid obviously has taken off again but in the first 6 months in there was only 18 more covid death than murders...(I'm not sure where the murder stat lands now) but if one starts to add in the increased deaths from missed diagnostics, suicides, over doses and alcoholism, and likewise consider the harms of increased domestic abuse, child abuse and impact to children life out comes from interrupted education how can we look at the government restrictions for the good of public health and keep a straight face...it’s a farce..with its addiction to COVID the government is failing the larger public.. but what else is new?

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JokeyJack 10 months, 3 weeks ago

You could only blame them if they were in charge. They are following orders.

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GodSpeed 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Government doesn't wanna give up the extra power, big surprise.

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