By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
RELAXED restrictions related to pharmacies, gas stations, laundromats, funeral services, weddings and outdoor dining came into effect last night, the Office of the Prime Minister announced in a statement.
Pharmacies, gas stations and laundromats will now be allowed to operate between 6am and 9pm in New Providence and Abaco on Sundays, according to the latest Emergency Order amendment. Outdoor dining will also be permitted at restaurants during those hours on Sundays.
“Effective immediately, for the islands of New Providence, Abaco, mainland Eleuthera and mainland Exuma funeral services may now have a maximum of 20 people at the graveside only, not including the officiant and mortuary workers,” the OPM said.
“Wedding ceremonies in a religious facility may now take place with a maximum of 20 people in accordance with protocols established by the Bahamas Christian Council and approved by the Ministry of Health effective immediately for the islands of New Providence, Abaco, mainland Eleuthera and mainland Exuma.
“Funeral repasts and wedding receptions remain prohibited on the islands of New Providence, Abaco, mainland Eleuthera and mainland Exuma.”
The relaxed restrictions come as the COVID-19 situation in the country continues to remain stable, with just seven cases confirmed yesterday involving three men and four women.
However, the number of current COVID-19 hospitalisations now stand at 13, an increase of 125 percent compared to mid-January when only three people were hospitalised. All the hospitalised cases are characterised as moderately ill. They include six cases at Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre and five at the Princess Margaret Hospital.
COVID-19 deaths remained at 175, with 15 under investigation.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said officials were waiting to see how people's behaviour during the holiday season impacted the spread of COVID-19 in the country before relaxing restrictions.
"We just came out of the Thanksgiving festival. We watched and expected an increase,” he told reporters in Spanish Wells on January 8. “The increase was marginal but manageable, it did not cause any serious issues. We came out of Christmas, I think we are coming out of that now, the 14-day (incubation period) and therefore we expected an increase. It’s manageable. We will be watching to see what happens between now and Wednesday because that will be the time we will see the effects.”