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Fears Abaco Restrictions Could Be Extended

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE recent spike of positive cases on Abaco has left some residents concerned the island’s restrictions could be extended, further impacting post-Hurricane Dorian recovery efforts.

North and Central Abaco Administrator Administrator Terrece Bootle-Laing said it’s a situation officials are continuing to closely watch and hoping to receive word on soon.

Abaco recorded 12 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. There were no new infections recorded for Abaco on Wednesday, leaving its total count at 278.

“For us, we are watching the numbers ourselves and trying to get a grapple on the realities on the ground and whether or not these are not clusters of cases. There are specifics that only the medical professionals will know,” Mrs Bootle-Laing said.

“So, we are awaiting the recommendations by the assessment team as to whether the cases that we would’ve seen on the dashboard are reflective of a cluster of persons through a family network or smaller community.

“Once the assessment team (has) provided more in depth information and advised the prime minister, then we would have had a better understanding on whether or not Abaco restrictions will be tightened or slackened.

“So for us, we’re hoping that restrictions are lifted but we’re hoping that it’s just a cluster of persons and with that there is no need for island wide restrictions but if that’s not it and there continues to be community spread, then we have an expectation that the restrictions will be continued or tightened.”

Last month, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced a tightening of restrictions for the island, including a 8pm-5am curfew and new travel protocols due to rising infections there, particularly in Marsh Harbour and North Abaco.

Dr Minnis said the new measures will be enforced for a period of two weeks, which is expected to end next week.

It is not clear if the restrictions will be extended. However, The Tribune understands that health officials are currently on the ground assessing the community to determine if the current protocols are being complied with.

This comes after the co-owners of an Abaco lounge were ticketed $30,500 earlier this month for breaching COVID-19 Emergency Powers Orders by having nearly 100 people crammed into a space only meant to hold 24.

Yesterday, Mrs Bootle-Laing said while most people have been compliant with the protocols since then, they are some “isolated areas where people continue to socialise”.

Abaco’s Chamber of Commerce president, Ken Hutton also said he hopes residents will continue following all the health protocols as no one would want the current restrictive measures extended.

“The reimplementation of the current restrictions has impacted some businesses particularly restaurants and stuff but overall I cannot say there’s been a significant impact on businesses overall,” he said.

“It would be unfortunate if it were to be extended… but I think we can live with it but certainly from the business community we certainly would not want to see it expanded but the increase in the cases is concerning but I think there are other reasons for this spread because we saw the viral video on one of the local (businesses) where 90 people came out.

“So I think that those sort of locations certainly need some extra attention but in terms of slapping other restrictions on all of Abaco at this point in time, I think will be counterproductive.”

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