Bahamian PM defends decision to keep beaches closed for independence holiday

Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Dr Hubert Minnis. (Photo: Facebook @OPMBS)

Prime Minister of The Bahamas Dr Hubert Minnis is defending his administration’s decision to keep beaches closed across sections of the archipelago ahead of its Independence Day celebrations this weekend.

Dr Minnis, giving an update during Wednesday’s (July 8) sitting of Parliament, said that while he realises the decision isn’t the most popular, the national goal is still to protect as many lives from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic currently ravaging the world.

“I understand people’s disappointment of not being able to go to the beach on the weekend. I was once young, also. However, our decisions are for the protection of Bahamians, residents, and visitors to our shores. The decisions taken have been done so soberly, and in conjunction with the health advisors to the Government,” he noted.

The mandate has ordered the closure of all beaches and parks in New Providence, Athol Island, Rose Island, Paradise Island, Grand Bahama, and other cays surrounding New Providence, over the July 10th holiday weekend.

Prime Minister Minnis argued that while many Bahamians have been acting responsibly to observe health measures in the national COVID-19 response, still, there are some who are acting quite irresponsibly and with little to no regard—and one mistake could lead to another localised outbreak.

“This is being done out of an abundance of caution. During holiday weekends there is a natural tendency for people to have mass gatherings on beaches and parks. Such mass gatherings are where there can be a super-spreading of COVID-19,” he asserted.

“Hundreds and hundreds of people in close contact with each other could quickly spread this virus, which is very easy to catch.  As a Government we want to prevent what Bahamians are seeing on the news in countries around the world,” Minnis added.

As of Tuesday, July 7, The Bahamas reported six active COVID-19 cases, with a total of 104 cases officially confirmed. Eleven patients have died from coronavirus-related complications while 89 persons have fully recovered from the illness.