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PM relaxes restrictions for some businesses

The Nassau Guardian May 4, 2020

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday announced The Bahamas is moving to phase 1b of the government’s phased reopening plan, allowing businesses that offer curbside and delivery services to reopen more than six weeks after he ordered non-essential businesses to close.

“The Ministry of Health has reported no confirmed cases of COVID-19 today,” Minnis said in a national address.

“Because of the progress we are making, I am pleased to announce that effective tomorrow, May 4th, we will move to phase 1b in the reopening of our economy. I repeat, effective tomorrow, May 4th, we will advance to phase 1b as we seek to open and restart our economy.

“This portion of phase one focuses on delivery, curbside service and construction.

“This phased reopening is aimed at striking the right balance between permitting some further level of commerce to resume while still maintaining a vigilant national position promoting physical distancing and reinforcing the health and safety precautions necessary to mitigate community spread of COVID-19.

“The objective of the first phase is to stimulate businesses through economic activity and to meet needs important to the population during this health crisis.”

Businesses providing goods and services through delivery and curbside pickup are permitted to open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

Construction on New Providence and Grand Bahama is permitted between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Home and hardware stores, plant nurseries and auto parts stores are permitted to expand to five-day online delivery and curbside services.

“This is in addition to the in-store days those stores are currently allowed to operate,” Minnis said.

“For example, home and hardware stores that are allowed to offer in-store services on Wednesdays and Fridays, may now offer delivery and curbside services Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. They may also offer delivery and curbside services during their in-store operating days.

“Businesses must be able to demonstrate existing capabilities to take orders by phone or online and acknowledgment of receipt.”

The prime minister reiterated that businesses should use gloves and other protocols in handling and delivery of goods and interaction with customers.

He said social distancing and sanitizing measures must be practiced at all times.

Minnis said professional athletes can resume training during this time.

He also announced that commercial activity on some of the Family Islands in the southern Bahamas will be permitted to resume tomorrow.

“The opening of various Family Islands was set to begin in phase two but we have decided to gradually reopen our Family Islands by zone, starting tomorrow in our southern Bahamas,” Minnis said.

“The following islands will be able to resume normal commercial activity effective Monday, May 4th. These islands are as follows: Ragged Island, Rum Cay, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins and Long Cay. Physical distancing and other safety protocols must be practiced and will be enforced at all times.

“Border restrictions as it relates to the travel of passengers in the Family Islands remain except for emergency and other circumstances which must be approved by the [Bahamas] Civil Aviation Authority.”

The prime minister said New Providence residents who are on those islands will be allowed to return to New Providence.

He also noted that curfew and lockdown measures will still remain in effect for all Family Islands.

“Using guidelines provided by health officials, other islands will be allowed to resume commercial activity at the appropriate time,” Minnis said.

He added, “We will have to be flexible in the application of the guidelines. If advised by our health officials to do so, we may have to go back to certain restrictions.”

The prime minister’s announcement came as The Bahamas saw three new COVID-19 cases in the last seven days.

There were 83 confirmed cases of the virus yesterday.

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