NASSAU, Bahamas – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis says campaigning for the September 16 general election will be held in strict accordance with the regulations put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) as he appealed to Bahamians to ensure that they are vaccinated against the pandemic.
In a radio and television broadcast, Minnis, who led the Free National Movement (FNM) to a resounding 35-4 electoral victory in 2017 over the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), said that he wanted to remind the population that “the COVID-19 curfews throughout the country will be strictly enforced.
“I wish to remind you that individuals traveling from New Providence, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Exuma, Abaco, and North and South Eleuthera, including Harbour Island, are required to present
negative COVID-19 test results prior to travel. Fully vaccinated individuals may present a negative Rapid Antigen or RT PCR test results. Those who are unvaccinated must present a negative RT PCR test result. The public health measures governing the elections must also be adhered to.”
Minnis said that he has taken note that the Emergency Orders, limit the number of people campaigning in groups to five, all of whom must be fully vaccinated.
“I also note that Bahamians 65 years and older will be permitted to vote in the advance polls, for their further protection in the upcoming general election. In terms of public health measures, this will also reduce the number of Bahamians voting on a single day.
“I want to assure Bahamians that the voting process will be safe. I encourage all who are eligible to go out and vote,” he added.
When he announced the date for the general election last week, Minnis told voters the next government will have key decisions to make in enacting post-pandemic public health legislation, continued economic growth, and rebuilding and renewing a post-COVID-19 Bahamas.
“Let me again say to those who are still thinking about getting vaccinated: You do not have time to keep thinking about whether or not you will take the vaccine. You do not have time to keep researching. You need to come forward now to get the life-saving protection that vaccination gives.
“My administration knows that the only way out of the emergency phase of the pandemic is to vaccinate as many Bahamians as possible in as short a time as possible,” Minnis said on Sunday night.
He said the country has secured more than half a million doses of some of the “best vaccines” in the world and that since the national vaccination campaign began in mid-March earlier this year, “we have administered a total of 129,017 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. As of Saturday, 21 August, a total of 55,291 Bahamians and residents are fully vaccinated”
He said the health authorities are hoping to fully vaccinate 60,000 people over a six-week period and urged the population to “help us reach this critical goal by coming forward to get vaccinated”.
Minnis said that during the course of the national COVID19 vaccination program, the authorities have made vaccines available to residents of all islands and cays where people reside.
“Because of our extensive archipelago, with many populated islands and cays, this has been an extraordinary logistical challenge. Thankfully, with the help of many key partners and the hard work of our medical professionals, all islands and cays where people reside, have had the opportunity to receive at least one dose of the vaccine
“I also wish to inform you that the government will partner with private health care providers to maximize the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, in an effort to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Minnis said, encouraging the private sector to allow employees a designated period of time on a given day of mutual agreement to get vaccinated.
“The sooner a large number of appropriate-aged students and their families are fully vaccinated, the sooner we can return to safe face-to-face learning, team sports, extracurricular programs and youth programs”.
Minnis said during the pandemic there has been an educational loss and gap for some children.
“We have to get them back to school to give them the education that they deserve and that they need. We need to get our children back to school and back to other youth programs as a part of their socialization, emotional and mental health, and their well-being.”
Minnis said he was urging the entire country to unite behind the message of “Let’s get vaccinated.
“I am asking religious leaders, media commentators, union leaders, political parties and candidates, businesses, civic groups and NGOs, to join us through your various platforms in strongly and continuously encouraging Bahamians to take the vaccines. If we all, as opinion leaders, speak with one clear, determined and consistent voice, more people will be encouraged to take the vaccine.”
He said that effective Friday, September 3 cruise lines operating passenger voyages will be permitted to enter a port in The Bahamas, including private destinations and that only if all passengers 12 years of age and older are fully vaccinated.
“This requirement will remain in effect until the 1st of November 2021, unless earlier rescinded. The requirement will not apply to cruise ships attempting to call at a port in an emergency. The vessel will not be prevented from making port if a cruise operator has provided passage on board to be vaccinated guests who are ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccination due to medical contraindications,” he added.