Bahamas News

Full Remarks, Bahamas Prime Minister on Emergency Powers

Mr. Speaker:
Late last evening health officials
confirmed two additional cases of
individuals who tested positive for
Covid-19 on New Providence.

These individuals were identified
through contact tracing.

The Ministry of Health’s
surveillance unit has aggressively
undertaken contact tracing activities
for the initial case reported.

These contact tracing
investigations have revealed that
household members of the COVID
19 positive patient traveled to
jurisdictions with known community
transmission – Canada, Trinidad
and Dubai.

These household contacts have
been quarantined and samples
taken for testing.

Other contacts, including
healthcare providers, are being
investigated to determine their level
of exposure and risk.

A total of 30 contacts of the
COVID-19 positive patient have
been identified.

The Minister of Health will provide
more details in his communication.

Mr. Speaker:
The Covid-19 pandemic is a threat
not seen in the lifetime of most people
alive today.

The world is at war with this virus.

As Prime Minister, as a medical
doctor, I will do everything in my power
to protect the Bahamian people.
Over several decades I have seen,
treated and comforted thousands of

Some were in life-and-death

The most difficult and painful days
in my life, were when a mother or child
or both were lost.

I took a medical oath to save lives.

But that oath only really became
real when my heart broke and I
couldn’t stop the tears after I lost a

patient or when I saw a mother crying
because she lost her baby.

This made me even more
determined to save every life I could.

This is the same resolve and
determination I am bringing to this fight

As a doctor there were times when
I had to take extraordinary measures

to save mothers and new-borns
coming into the world.

As prime minister it is my mission,
my determination, my responsibility to
save and to protect every life I can
during this crisis.

We are going to defeat this threat!

Mr. Speaker:
We are at war with this virus.
As prime minister and as a medical
doctor I will lead this fight with all of my
strength and determination.

We will act decisively in order to
save lives and lessen the suffering of
our people.

Toward this end:

Exercising his powers under the
Constitution of the Commonwealth of
The Bahamas, the Governor General

has issued a proclamation of

The proclamation of emergency
took effect on Tuesday, March 17,

  1. The Proclamation will give the
    Government necessary and
    emergency powers to aggressively
    combat the Covid-19 emergency. 11
    I wish to state the new emergency
    measures we are enacting are to save
    lives and to protect our country.

These measures are in the
Emergency Powers (Covid 19)
Regulations, 2020, we are tabling

Mr. Speaker:
We live in an open, free democratic

Our freedoms and right are
protected by and enshrined in our

Our Founders included in the
Constitution the legal provision to allow
the Governor General to make
proclamations of emergency.

The measures we seek to invoke
through these regulations derive from
the authority bestowed by our supreme
civic law.

Mr. Speaker:
The regulations allow for the
following new authority for state.

Where a health officer has
reasonable grounds to believe a
person is or may be infected or
contaminated with Covid-19, and the
health officer considers there is a risk
the person might infect or contaminate
others, the health officer may order
such a person detained for screening
and assessment.

Following such an assessment a
health officer is empowered to impose
on or in relation to that person any
other restriction or requirement the
health officer considers necessary to
remove or reduce the risk of infecting
or contaminating others.

A decision to impose such a
restriction or requirement may only be
taken if the health officer considers the
restriction proportionate to what is
sought to be achieved by imposing it.

Where such a restriction or
requirement is imposed on or in
relation to a child, an adult responsible
for the child must ensure the child
complies with the restriction or
requirement, insofar as the person is
reasonably able to do so.

A health officer may require a
person be kept in isolation, if the
health officer:
• has reasonable grounds to believe a
person is or may be infected or
contaminated with Covid-19;

• and the health officer considers that it
is necessary and proportionate to do
so in order to reduce or remove the
risk of the person infecting or
contaminating others.

We need the power to order people
into isolation to stop the spread of this

Mr. Speaker:
Broader social distancing of the
public is key to limiting Covid-19’s

Through these regulations the
Prime Minister may by order cause to
be revoked or suspended all permits
for the use of public open spaces in
any particular area, or an entire island,
or the country as a whole in the
interest of public health safety.

The Prime Minister may by order
prohibit the assembly of two or more
persons in a public place in any area
specified in the interest of public health

The Prime Minister may by order,
impose isolation on all individuals
within a particular area, island or the
entire country in the interest of public
health safety.
Where isolation has been imposed,
the Prime Minister may:

• require the closure of all educational
or religious institutions in the area

• require the closure of any business
or organisation that caters to the public
in the areas specified, unless
permitted otherwise by the order;

• prohibit the visitation by persons at
all residential care establishments;

• prohibit the visitation by people at all
correctional facilities;

• require every person to confine him
or her self at his or her place of
residence and enclosed property,
unless otherwise specified by the

• permit the travel of persons to a
grocery store, gas station, pharmacy,
doctor, hospital or such other place as
may be specified in the order.

Mr. Speaker:
These regulations also provide for
curfews during the emergency
proclamation period if deemed

The Prime Minister may by order
require every person within any area
specified to remain within doors
between such hours as specified in the

The Prime Minister may by order
prohibit a person from residing in or
entering any area specified in the
order if such person is suspected of
acting or of having acted, or of being
about to act, in a manner prejudicial to:

• the public safety;

• the supply or distribution of any
necessity of life;

• or, the preservation of the peace.

Mr. Speaker:
These regulations give the Prime
Minister, when it is deemed necessary
for the emergency, the power to
requisition any building, ship, aircraft
or article in the country.

If such requisition is ordered, at the
conclusion of the requisition it shall be
ensured that there is prompt and
adequate compensation in the
circumstances to the owner or
occupier of such building, ship, aircraft
or article.

Mr. Speaker:
The regulations give the Governor
General authority to requisition
essential services for the period of the
emergency proclamation or a period

Where any essential service is
requisitioned the Governor General
shall by instrument in writing appoint
some person as controller of the

“Essential services” mean any
service established, maintained or
operated by the Government, or by
any public or private enterprise, or
otherwise, for:

• the collection, storage, purification or
distribution of water for use by the

• the collection, storage, treatment and
disposal of sewage or garbage or

• the manufacture, storage or
distribution of gas for use by the

• or, the removal, handling or burial of
deceased persons or disposal of dead

Mr. Speaker:
Through these regulations and in
the interest of protecting public safety
and health, the Prime Minister in
consultation with the Minister of
Finance may by order waive the
application of any rules or law
governing the procurement of goods
and services.

The Minister of Finance shall within
six weeks of the expiration of the
proclamation of emergency lay a
report before the House of Assembly

• the total expenditure of the goods
and services procured;

• the suppliers of the goods and
services procured;

• the reasons for the use of the
suppliers of the goods and the
providers of the services.

The Prime Minister also may by order
waive or vary the payment of any fees
for the testing and medical services
rendered at any public hospital or
healthcare facility in relation to Covid

Bahamas Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert A. Minnis
  1. Mr. Speaker:
    There has been a problem in The
    Bahamas for some time with the
    creation and spread of malicious fake
    news. 30
    We live in a free and open society
    where citizens have a right to express
    their opinions.

A free press plays a vital role in
protecting our freedoms.

I am pleased that the political party
I have the privilege of leading freed the
broadcast media from state control.

Sadly, today, the malicious creation
of misinformation for the purpose of
creating harm, chaos, violence and
disorder is deeply worrisome.

There are people who create such
misinformation and disinformation for
malicious reasons.

The spread of malicious fake news
has the potential to: cause violence;
runs on financial institutions and/or
critical food and medical supplies.

Such fake news may cause
widespread panic that prevents
citizens from following directions
designed to protect their lives during a

‘Fake News’ cited in Emergency Powers ordinance as a public health and safety enemy

Under these regulations, no person
shall publish or cause to be published,
posted or re-posted over any media
platform, inclusive of social media, any
purported news or report or purported
statement of fact, knowing or having
reasonable cause to suspect the same
is: untrue or false; or may incite public
fear, panic or ethnic hatred.

Mr. Speaker:
We do not know what new
problems may emerge during this
emergency period.

Out of an abundance of caution, a
provision exists in these regulations by
which the Governor General may
authorize international or regional
military or police forces as may be
requested by the Government to serve
as peace officers and assist in:

• the storage, safe keeping or
distribution of relief supplies;

• the provision of any essential

• and the maintenance of public order.

Mr. Speaker:
I have outlined the major
components of these regulations.

Some of these provisions may be
invoked. Some may not.

We have brought forward these
regulations to have the legal powers
necessary at hand to respond quickly
and decisively to this crisis.

Mr. Speaker:
We must all play a major role in the
days and weeks ahead.

We must stay united.

The Government is using the full
capacity of the law and state to win
this fight against the virus.

Each Bahamian can be part of the
battle by rejecting the spirit of
negativity that has infected too much
of our public conversation.

Do not join them.

I am so proud of our health
professionals, who labour long hours
to care for the sick and to ease the
suffering of those in pain.

They spend long hours at work
away from their families trying to keep
us safe.

Let us value their sacrifice.
Let us thank them for their service.

Let us pray that God gives them
extra wisdom, energy and
understanding to lead us to better

If we keep a unity of spirit and
purpose during this crisis we will come
out of it better as a people.

Bahamians built this archipelago
with their hands generation by

Each time we have faced a crisis,
our unbreakable Bahamian spirit has
come to the fore.

We have worked together.
We have helped each other.

There is no fight we cannot
overcome when we stand together,
united across this blessed and
beautiful archipelago.

Mr. Speaker:
We can and we will co-operate with
others in fighting this deadly invader.

As one people we must make the
best use of what we have.

We must once again rely on the
resilience, the imagination, the love
and the faith which have defined us
and sustained us over many

Now is not the time for panic but for

Now is not the time for selfishness
but for sharing.
We must remain calm.
We must be civil with one another
as we, together, face this challenge.

It is going to be difficult, but all
things come to an end and so this
crisis will also end.

Mr. Speaker:
I wish to end with these words of
hope from Psalm 46:

1 God is our refuge and strength, an
ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though
the earth give way and the mountains
fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam and
the mountains quake with their
4 There is a river whose streams make
glad the city of God, the holy place
where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the
God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the LORD has
done, the desolations he has brought
on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of
the earth. He breaks the bow and
shatters the spear; he burns the
shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I
am God; I will be exalted among the
nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the
God of Jacob is our fortress.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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