Prime Minister Phillip “Brave” Davis.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis said remaining mask mandates in the country could be totally lifted by the summer, adding officials are currently mulling over whether indoor venues have proper ventilation to ensure COVID-19 does not circulate easily in those settings.
In March, the Davis administration relaxed mask measures making them no longer a requirement while in a lobby, corridor or casino of a hotel or while in an outdoor setting where there is at least three feet of space between people who are not of the same household.
Disabled people or those with special medical conditions are not required to wear a mask provided they have a medical certificate or signed letter by a medical practitioner showing proof of their disability or condition.
Asked yesterday how close the government was to lifting the mask mandate considering low new virus case numbers, Mr Davis told reporters: “Yes, we are pleased with the manner in which the Bahamian people have become so responsible about taking care of themselves and looking after others, hence you see how our numbers are very low.
“We always believed that if we left it to the Bahamian people they (would) know how to take care of themselves. Measures are not really the answer to what we are having and it’s responsible conduct and responsible living and we always believed that the Bahamians could live responsibly and that’s what we’re seeing, the result of that.”
Mr Davis, who spoke on the sidelines of a groundbreaking event yesterday, said a decision over further relaxing mask measures is being considered.
“We just need to be able to trust the Bahamian people, which we have done, and insofar as that is concerned you’ll see that a lot of measures have been relaxed,” he continued.
“They’re now considering the further relaxation of the mask mandate. Right now outdoors, it’s been relaxed. It’s only indoors until we are sure that some of the indoor venues could have what I call proper air ventilation to ensure that the virus is not being trapped and that is now being considered by the experts as to when we should lift the mask totally.”
Mr Davis said this could happen by or before this summer.
“If I were to put a timeline on it, by summer, by summer for sure, even sooner. As I said we have recognised that it is the Bahamians who have truly stepped up to the fore and been responsible and as long as they remain responsible, relaxations will come.”
Mr Davis was also asked if consideration was being given to eliminating testing at the borders.
He said he was unsure whether the country was ready for that level of relaxation.
“I know those are representations that have been made about testing. I don’t know whether we are there yet to eliminate testing all together as most of the new cases recently have been travel related.
“I know some countries have (eliminated the testing requirement), but as we have discovered most of our cases to date are really travel related and if it’s all travel related then we need to ensure that people who are coming in are not bringing the virus with them and when they leave they’re not carrying it with them.
“So, yes, that is on the table for consideration, but instinctively I’d be concerned about at this stage and until we are sure that the virus is either gone or it could be so managed or treated that the necessity for testing would not be necessary.”
This comes after Health and Wellness Minister Dr Michael Darville told The Tribune on Sunday that officials were monitoring a “slight increase” in COVID-19 cases over the past few days and were set to discuss ongoing concerns about the pandemic in a meeting this week.
Virus cases have been trending low in recent weeks, with low single digit cases recorded on some days. Only five new cases were recorded on April 24 while six people were in hospital with the virus.
However, on April 23, 20 new cases were recorded and 17 were recorded on April 22.