New COVID-19 restrictions have been announced by health officials in the Bahamas in an effort to stem an upsurge in cases of the virus in recent days.
In making the announcement, Health Minister Renward Wells said the harsher restrictions will be implemented on Monday in New Providence and Grand Bahama along with North and Central Eleuthera.
The restrictions, which include tighter curfew hours, social limitations and travel guidelines, came as the country recorded 110 additional cases and one more virus-related death last Thursday.
The Health Minister also lamented the uptick in both virus-related cases, hospitalizations and deaths – stating that they are concerning and placing a great strain on the healthcare system. saying the influx of infections has placed a great strain on the nation’s healthcare system.
Noting that COVID-19 preventative measures are meant to “protect and not harm us”, Wells announced the reimposition of a number of former restrictions, which he said came based on the recommendations of health officials.
The curfew on New Providence, Grand Bahama, North and South Eleuthera – including Harbour Island – will go back to 10 pm to 5 am (local time).
Individuals traveling from those islands are also required to undergo an RT-PCR test. However, the rule will not apply to fully vaccinated people.
On New Providence and Grand Bahama, church services will be limited to one hour and only allowed at 33 percent capacity. Concerning funeral or cremation – the Health Minister said services are not allowed but graveside services will be permitted with a maximum of 30 people. This excludes the officiant and funeral workers at those services and no funeral repasts are permitted, however, weddings are allowed indoors and outdoors, but not exceeding 30 people.
“As regards to restaurants, dining is restricted to outdoor and takeaways services, and it is encouraged that there be no loitering of groups outside restaurants or at fish fries. These restrictions, however, do not apply to hotel properties.”
Wells said proof that the pandemic is far from over can be seen in the rise of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations.
According to the health minister, hospital admissions in this third wave have been notably higher than what was seen in previous waves. He reiterated that most people in hospitals have not been fully vaccinated against the virus.
For her part, Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan called for stricter adherence to public health measures and warned that giving recommendations for full COVID-19 lockdowns are not off the table.
“Certainly, we deliberate every week where we are and full lockdowns are always a consideration of recommendation if we believe that will be the way and the only way to get our hands around what we are in but there are also considerations around full lockdowns as it relates to where our country is,” Dr McMillan said.
“But we monitor these things on a daily basis and we have ad hoc EOCs and should that be necessary we will make further recommendations if that means a lockdown, we will have to do it.”