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Masks indoors - but not for hotels in new rule changes

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

and EARYEL BOWLEG

Tribune Staff Reporter

ebowleg@tribunemedia.net

THE Ministry of Health and Wellness announced further relaxations to COVID-19 restrictions over the weekend, loosening mask requirements for those in hotels or outdoors and adjusting protocols for social gatherings, allowing larger events to take place.

The ministry said it was cautiously optimistic about the progress in the fight against COVID-19.

photo

Dr Duane Sands

When contacted for comment yesterday, Free National Movement Chairman and former Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands called the new relaxations on face masks “glaringly discriminatory”.

Regarding masking requirements, a person is not required to wear a face mask 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 persons who are not of the same household.

Disabled persons or people with specified medical conditions are not required to wear a mask provided they have in their possession a medical certificate or letter signed by a medical practitioner proving the existence of such disability or medical condition.

The ministry reminded members of the public to wear a face mask while away from his or her residence and in the company of people who are not members of their household. The mask should fit securely to the face of the wearer, ensuring that both nose and mouth are covered at all times.

Dr Sands said he thinks that Bahamians will wonder if there is such a distinct difference in the management of COVID in hotel lobbies and casinos compared to ordinary Bahamian businesses.

“There may be or they may cite differences in vaccination rates and so on and so forth, but you know give Bahamians the courtesy of at least sharing with them the basis of your decision making,” Dr Sands said. “Show some respect for the intellect of Bahamians as opposed to something that was glaringly discriminatory.”

He added: “We note with interest the changes that have been made. We find it very interesting that the virus behaves differently in hotels and casinos than they do in Bahamian businesses, but most importantly we have been asking for the data that undergirds these decisions and to date they have not been forthcoming. So while we hope and wish the best for Bahamians we do not know on what basis these decisions were made.”

 The Ministry of Health has also adjusted requirements for social gatherings.

 A person may host or attend a social gathering indoors at a private residence or a facility provided that attendance is limited to 75 percent of the occupancy of the private residence or facility. All attendees must either be fully vaccinated or present a valid negative COVID-19 test and adhere to COVID-19 protocols.

 A person may host or attend a social gathering held outdoors with not more than 300 people provided that all attendees must either be fully vaccinated or present a negative test and adhere to protocols.

 Concerts, parties, carnivals, fairs, Junkanoo or carnival parades inclusive of practice rallies require approval of the Emergency Operations Committee of the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

 Yesterday, a spokesperson for the Consultant Physicians Staff Association urged members of the public to continue mask wearing in public spaces especially where there is a mixture of people not from the same household and the probability of touching high contact surfaces is present.

 CPSA Secretary General Dr Shakera Carroll, however, told The Tribune that overall, the newly announced COVID-19 relaxations are “doable”, noting decreasing case numbers and hospitalisations.

 She said it was expected that the ministry would continue to monitor the situation and act accordingly in the event of a resurgence.

 “I do think it’s doable because again we’ve had decreasing numbers of cases, decreasing numbers of hospitalisations and so the aim globally is to see how restrictions can be relaxed while at the same time monitoring for the effectiveness of those reductions in restrictions and making sure that the public is not adversely affected by that in terms of resurgences of cases,” Dr Carroll said.

 “So, it’ll be expected that the Ministry of Health has continued to monitor the situation with the changes in restrictions and to either further relax or revise those relaxations should there be a rise in cases as a result.”

 Regarding masking, she said: “The concern with mask wearing I would say that being the first defence it should be something that is continued throughout in public spaces especially … persons who aren’t in the same household and especially in areas where there are potentially high touch contact surfaces. Persons may inadvertently sneeze or cough into their hands and sometimes people do those things unconsciously and that can increase the risk of spread regardless of the fact that the omicron variant has thankfully been much milder than the other variants.”

 She said while there is excitement that restrictions have been relaxed, safety protocols like hand washing and social distancing must continue.

 The Ministry of Health has also said social distancing protocols remain in place. There should be no less than three feet between each person not of the same household whenever they are away from their residence.

 Businesses must also ensure the same is maintained and have to determine the number of people permitted at any one time.

 This comes as daily COVID-19 case counts remain low, with three new cases recorded on Friday.

Comments

carltonr61 5 months ago

Brave is having so much difficulty navigating out of FNM covid policy. They have built so much gat ya into it waiting with a hammer around their blind bend. Caution, science and steady as she goes as this remains an evolving event getting out. The CDC is admitting to massive vaccine new data. Maybe our covid masters if long gone should keep The Bahamian people informed about vaccine harm or just keep their mouths shut.

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tribanon 5 months ago

Duane Sands and Shakera Carroll are truly sick in the head and need help.

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M0J0 5 months ago

lol they are liken to a rat scratching and trying to finds its way out of a slippery bucket.

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bahamian242 5 months ago

Between 2 Doctors an a Lawyer, they really did this Country bad with restrictions on Covid19! all Carl Bethell wanted to do is put everyone in Prison, and the 2 Doctors keep everyone in Bed!

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AlternateView 5 months ago

Well it should be quite obvious what this means. The virus is ALSO ON VACATION when it enters the hotel lobby. Hence, no need for mask wearing. The virus is also there for relaxation. You can't expect it to be working all the time do you? That's against the virus department of labor laws (VDLL)!

Boy, surprised no one else thought of this incredible science break through before with Covid!

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whogothere 5 months ago

It's simple - just get rid of the protocols/mandates - provide guidance - like if you're at risk take responsibility for your health. Exercise, eat right, get fresh air and sunlight, wear a N95 if you want to...etc.

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John 5 months ago

So what is more risky.. a carnival or concert outdoors with all in attendance wearing masks or hundreds of strangers from all parts to f the world wandering the lobby and hallways of a hotel or gathered in a casino without masks?

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moncurcool 5 months ago

Amazing how Bahamians allow themselves to be discriminated against in their own country

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tribanon 5 months ago

Bahamians have allowed themselves to be discriminated against for decades. There's one set of laws and rules for the corrupt ruling political elite and another entirely different set for the plebes they rule over. Yet the plebes keep going to the polls and voting for the same corrupt scoundrels whether they be PLP or FNM. They live the good life while laughing at us as we live in misery and cry. Even most illegal aliens quickly come to realise they can take every illegal advantage over and against us plebes because we're truly suckers for punishment.

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User1234 5 months ago

The answer is there isn't much difference

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bahamianson 5 months ago

Really? Total garbage! Drop all rules. The government's perception of us has not changed. We are too backward and uncivilized to have certain priveleges.

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John 5 months ago

You would expect that some of the family islands that are sparsely populated and have few outsiders would be the first to see relaxed masks laws. But hotels where the population make up changes virtually every day? And casinos now have more freedoms that the church? Davis yinna wrong, wrong wrong!

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sheeprunner12 5 months ago

Davis is setting himself up for a Covid fall by year end

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immigrant 5 months ago

Such discriminatory garbage. We have already gotten a notice from Atlantis that guests are no longer required to wear masks but employees must continue. Tell me what science that is supporting.

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sheeprunner12 5 months ago

We serve our guests. Servants don't have any say

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John 5 months ago

It is nice to go down Bay Street and see that it has come alive again after being desolate for nearly two years. But it is also insulting to see tge dozens and dozens of tourists walking up and down with no face masks. And it’s just like no body’s business.

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