SINCE Sunday’s national address by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, people in all parts of the country – including this column – have wondered why some islands have been allowed to resume commercial activity, yet others have not.
It turns out that not even the deputy chief medical officer, Dr Delon Brennen, knows the reasons why.
Full marks for honesty from Dr Brennen, who said yesterday “I honestly do not know”.
He went on to say: “I think that’s a Cabinet and Office of the Prime Minister level decision. That is not a Ministry of Health level decision.”
Could he be any clearer? Well, he went on to say “this decision is not on us”.
Some might criticise but we applaud Dr Brennen for giving a straight answer. It very clearly sets the stage for Dr Minnis, who wears both the Prime Minister and Minister of Health hats right now, to clear the air with a simple explanation. Don’t shoot the messenger who pointed out who to ask, either.
Why are the Berry Islands still unable to get back to business when there hasn’t been a single case of COVID-19 diagnosed? The MP for the islands, Carlton Bowleg, added that the islands have been adhering to curfew very well. The same question applies for Exuma, Eleuthera and San Salvador.
So let’s bring an end to the guessing game. Each citizen on those islands deserves to know why they aren’t back to normal yet – and what needs to be done to open their doors again.
The early part of the government’s response was largely well received across The Bahamas – but its communication with citizens has taken a stumble in recent weeks. Time to put that right, and let people know not just the decisions made, but the reasoning behind them.
Many people have been cooped up at home for a long time now – letting them understand what still needs to happen before restrictions are eased would give everyone something to strive towards. Over to you, Dr Minnis.
Meanwhile, there are some complaints over the next round of repatriations – with people complaining that passengers will have to pay their air fare.
Well, why shouldn’t they? Many of these would have been planning to fly back anyway – though their timetable might have shifted. They would have likely been planning to pay for a flight anyway.
Concerns over COVID-19 had been circulating for a long while before The Bahamas closed its borders, so it was always likely to be coming, and the first lot of students who flew back in March had to reimburse the government for the flight.
The previous round of repatriations were free but government is not a bottomless pit of money – less so by the day with revenues down by almost half on last year’s amounts.
Consulate staff in the US have been paying out cash to help support Bahamians – so we would hope that those unable to afford the flight might have some options for aid available. After all, it might well be cheaper to fly people home than financially support them in another country.
That said, for those who can afford it? Buy your ticket. Come home. Be safe. Be healthy.