Cabinet undecided on emergency extension

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April 28, 2021

ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel says Cabinet is undecided on whether to extend the State of Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic or implement a new statutory framework when the current emergency orders expire on May 23.

Regardless of what structure is put in place, Mr Bethel said rules governing people’s behaviour will persist until the country reaches herd immunity.

“When The Bahamas reaches the stage of what could be termed herd immunity, then we could consider that, for The Bahamas, the emergency is basically over,” he told reporters before yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.

“So, between now and then, there will be some legal framework, whether it’s a declaration of a State of Emergency or under a statutory framework. In any event, rules will have to be mandated to restrict physical contact continuing until we reach the stage where there is a degree of herd immunity. Whether that’s under an Emergency Power Order or under a new enactment, it’s not going to stop the need to make rules to restrict certain forms of activities.

“The argument over, ‘well, you know this emergency powers and it’s over a year’ and whatever, that is really a debate as to form, not to content. The content will continue to be that, as a responsible government, we have our duty to do everything in our power to enable the Bahamian people to protect themselves and the only way that this could be effectively done is to set rules so it is clear to everybody what the standard of conduct is.”

Mr Bethel has said that new legislation, which is being drafted, would allow the government to respond on a need basis as opposed to a broad national response.

“What we do know is that the emergency continues and so the government will in very short order make a determination as to what is the best way forward and that is as much as I could say at this point,” he said yesterday.

“Safe to say that we know the emergency continues. It is an unfortunate situation that now confronts the world. We see that Europe remains basically in lockdown, we see that India is collapsing, its healthcare system has basically collapsed, that the whole world will have to come to the aid of that great country and we pray for the souls of all around the world who have perished and who are in grave danger, including here in The Bahamas, from this third wave.

“We certainly are doing everything we can to maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of the Bahamian healthcare system. It is challenged but not as bad as elsewhere in the world.

“We know then that an emergency continues. In The Bahamas we are using every available means to secure enough vaccines for those who wish to take it. Right now our issue is to get more supplies. We are working hard on that front. We are grateful to hear that the United States will now release its stores of AstraZeneca, which is the vaccine that is currently being used in The Bahamas,... if we get our share we will be able to make sure that the population who have taken the vaccine voluntarily will get it in short order and that really is the goal, it’s to make sure that every Bahamian who wishes to be protected, is protected and that the resources are here for them.”

The country has been under a State of Emergency since March 2020.

Click here to read more at The Tribune

News date : 04/28/2021    Category : Covid-19, Politics, Tribune Stories

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