By Philip Brave Davis Q.C.
It has been clear for some time that new, more transmissible strains of the COVID virus pose a significant public health threat to The Bahamas, yet the Minnis government once again has failed to provide leadership or a plan to prepare and protect the country.
Instead, with cases, hospitalizations and deaths rising, Minnis sends out his inept Minister of Health to announce a mess of disruptive new Emergency Orders that micromanage Bahamians’ lives but will not stop the spread of the virus.
The new rule restricting private gatherings to five persons “provided that guests are vaccinated” has been met with ridicule and disbelief from the public. Amidst a rising wave of robberies and murders, will the police be going door to door to count heads and check vaccination status?
If a neighbor visits a family of five, that gathering violates the latest Emergency Orders, even though all of them would be permitted to go to the gym together. No one thinks that makes any sense – and that’s only the start of the contradictions.
It’s the worst of all worlds: heavy-handed rules which hurt Bahamians without stopping the transmission of the virus. Children cannot swim or play basketball outside, but they can go to a movie inside?
Dr. Hubert Minnis has failed to prepare the country for the fast-spreading Delta variant. He has failed to procure sufficient vaccines, failed to expand testing to stay ahead of outbreaks, failed to use contact tracing effectively, failed to retain nurses, failed to consult with or respect local medical professionals, failed to implement a public education campaign, and failed to improve public health capacity.
Minnis’ failures have meant illness and heartbreak for too many Bahamian families and have left The Bahamas with one of the worst COVID performances in the region.
Minnis blocked a private sector effort in February of this year to bring in thousands of Pfizer doses, because he wanted to be the one to take credit for vaccines – politics first, people last, as always with Minnis.
How many lives has that selfishness cost?
The PLP’s COVID Task Force continues to promote constructive policy solutions, including a dramatic expansion of testing, more effective masks, a real public education campaign, and close consultation with
local medical professionals.
The new Emergency Orders restricting campaigning infringe fundamental free speech rights of Bahamians and are further evidence that the government does not believe it can win a fair fight.
They created a rule that places excessive burdens on voters who wish to transfer their registration to a new address – they are hoping to block the participation of Bahamians displaced by Dorian or who have relocated because of financial strains due to the lockdowns.
Now they want to restrict conversations between candidates, campaign volunteers and voters. Under Minnis’ anti-democratic Emergency Orders, the person delivering pizza to your door can be unvaccinated, but not the campaign volunteer with a pamphlet, which shows you just how disconnected the rules are from any public health rationale and just
how terrified they are of the truth.
The voter suppression efforts and the restrictions on campaigning expose how afraid the FNM is of a free and fair election, and the lengths they will go to prevent one.