NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip Davis yesterday reiterated his party’s pledge to remove the emergency powers orders, establish free antigen testing and bring an end to the travel visa, insisting the current scheme was more about making money than public health.
Davis underscored the COVID-19 crisis’ toll on the country’s strained healthcare system and Bahamian livelihoods during a live broadcast on the party’s plan if elected to govern.
“We are losing too many people,” he said.
“We are losing mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, beloved grandparents and siblings and children; we are losing friends and teachers and nurses and neighbors. There are too many empty places at the family dinner table and too many heavy hearts. Mine is one of them. I have had so many people reach out to me in recent weeks, sharing terrible news, sharing their anguish and loss.”
He said: “It is not only sorrow that I feel. I also feel tremendous anger and frustration — because while it was always going to be a challenging and difficult time, it didn’t have to be this bad.”
Last night, Davis stressed that the collapse of the country’s public health system was not inevitable but the result of bad policy decisions.
He contended the current Minnis administration “either wasn’t smart enough to know better or didn’t care enough to do better”.
The Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador incumbent MP pointed to a recent global ranking of COVID-management that ranked The Bahamas 179 out of 180 countries.
“179 out of 180 – and yet the self-appointed Competent Authority is dancing on a stage,” Davis said.
He was referring to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ performance at the Free National Movement’s drive-in rally over the weekend, where the FNM leader danced on stage ahead of delivering his speech.
Davis said Minnis continues to laud the government’s COVID-19 management despite the state of the hospitals and morgues, and labor relations with healthcare workers.
“Why is the Competent Authority dancing, instead of fixing these problems? Where’s his sense of urgency? Where’s his sense of decency?,” Davis said.
The PLP Leader also renewed his claim that Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis rejected an offer from the private sector to bring in the Pfizer vaccine earlier this year ahead of the COVAX facility because the prime minister didn’t want to give anyone credit.
Minnis has previously said the government received many private offers to provide the vaccine but many did not meet requirements set by the World Health Organization.
Davis continued: “It’s time for a science-based, compassionate, common-sense, respectful, unifying approach. My PLP COVID-19 Task Force has a ten-point Action Plan – and the core value at its foundation is respect: Respect for the latest science; respect for our medical professionals; and respect for the Bahamian people, who are trying their best to navigate and survive these trying times.”
Davis said his government will require negative COVID tests from all visitors regardless of vaccination status. He furthered that vaccines are a crucial pillar of any mitigation plan, but must be part of a larger strategy.
He added: “We’re also going to end the travel visa – because it has everything to do with taking people’s money, and nothing to do with public health. Countries in our region that require a negative test but no travel visa have outperformed our country in fighting COVID.
“We will provide the science and data to support any necessary public health measures because when a government restricts the movement of its people in any way, that is the least that the people are owed.”