The 24-hour curfew that came into effect today to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will likely be extended until the end of April, Attorney General Carl Bethel said today.
“The medical professionals have already urged at least a 30-day extension,” he said.
“And a resolution is before the House of Assembly. The House has adjourned to the 30th with the intention that this will be the matter that they will debate and pass on the 30th.
“…The government is in full consultation with the opposition. They now appreciate the importance of adhering to the best medical advice. If that medical advice says that we need to have an extension of the curfew, then I’m sure that the House will unanimously support and implement that recommendation.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis on Monday night ordered a 24-hour national curfew and the closure of airports, docks, ports, and beaches throughout the country with certain exceptions.
So far there are four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas, but Bethel said the measures are necessary, as health officials expect a surge in cases.
He said the original night curfew, which came into effect last week, was proving insufficient as people were not practicing strict social distancing during the day.
“They advised that a surge in COVID-19 cases is expected,” he said.
“History shows us and the experience in China shows us that the only way to press down the numbers, spread them out so as to avoid the collapse of our already fragile healthcare system, is to have a lockdown and impose social distancing.
“Government sought to have a situation with voluntary social distancing. And that is why the curfew, as it originally was, was simple for during the evening hours.
“We had a meeting with health professionals on Sunday, and they strongly advised that we have a 24-hour curfew because that is the only way, they felt, that the broader society would get the message.”
He added, “The Bahamian people were advising us every two seconds about their concerns that the borders were still open to people who were coming from infected countries.
“And also, Family Island communities were having situations where they were feeling a strong sense of alarm [about] the amount of persons appearing off their shores in these boats from infected places. And so, the government responded immediately because this was critically important. We had to close our borders to limit imported contagion.”