The Bahamas government has announced the relaxation of certain restrictive measures for the islands of New Providence and Abaco, and an increase in restrictions for mainland Eleuthera as it seeks to further curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the archipelago.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis in a national broadcast on Sunday said that there had been improvements in New Providence and Abaco since restrictive measures were introduced a month ago. He said since then, there have been reductions recorded among key health indicators watched closely by health officials, including the number of new cases of COVID-19, the national positivity rate and hospitalizations.
Minnis said effective Monday, the weekday curfew for New Providence and Abaco will move to 9.00 pm to 5.00 am (local time) and the weekend 24-hour curfew will be lifted and a 6.00 pm to 5.00 am curfew on Saturdays and Sundays will take effect.
Other changes to take effect from Monday for New Providence and Abaco include: the resumption of in-stores services in the retail sector, the reopening of food stores on Saturdays; outdoor dining at restaurants permitted Monday to Saturday and on Sundays, only drive-thru and take-away services will be permitted.
The government said indoor dining at hotels will be permitted and beaches and parks will open Saturdays and Sundays from 5.00 am to 6.00pm.
On Grand Bahama, the daily curfew will also move to 9.00 pm to 5.00am.
Minnis said the government would continue to consult with health officials to determine the appropriate time for the safe reopening of gyms, spas and other elements of the economy.
For the island of Eleuthera, excluding Spanish Wells and Harbour Island, Prime Minister Minnis announced that a 6.00 pm to 5.00 am weekday curfew will take effect on the mainland starting Monday. All bars and restaurants connected to bars will be closed.
Funeral services may take place at the graveside only with a maximum of 10 people not including officiant; and weddings will be limited to 10, not including the officiant. Repasts and receptions are prohibited.
Indoor church services and in-person classroom instruction of students will be prohibited. Public and private social gatherings will also be prohibited.
On the weekends, a 24-hour curfew will be implemented starting on Fridays and during the curfew, businesses are not permitted to operate, including grocery stores and pharmacies.
“To reduce the spread on Eleuthera, I ask everyone on the island to please go back to measures that worked for you in the past, so that Eleuthera can reopen various areas safely and as quickly as possible,” said Prime Minister Minnis.
He said the Royal Bahamas Defence Force is on alert and in place to ensure that vessels do not flee Eleuthera in violation of the Orders. Additional police resources have also been deployed to ensure the enforcement of measures put in place to protect the residents of Eleuthera.
As of Saturday 8 November, Eleuthera had a total of 117 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the island. All districts in Eleuthera have recorded confirmed cases of the virus,
Prime Minister Minnis said that the measures for Eleuthera were recommended by health officials following an assessment of the COVID-19 situation on the island last week.
In his address, the Prime Minister acknowledged the Family Islands, including Acklins, Crooked Island, Cat Island, Inagua, Mayaguana, Long Island and San Salvador have no active cases of the virus.
“As we emerge out of this second wave, let us be cautiously optimistic and let us continue to be careful,” said Prime Minister Minnis, adding “we are opening up. But if we stop following the public health advice, virus cases will increase again, and we may end up back under restrictions”.