‘Extending powers is right’

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Rupert Roberts

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net 

SUPER Value owner Rupert Roberts yesterday voiced his support for the government’s intention to extend the country’s Emergency Powers Orders to December 28.

“There’s things (the government) may have to do. This is the most serious thing that’s ever happened to this country and the world and our leaders have to do whatever they do to protect us,” said Mr Roberts.

“I really don’t’ have a problem with that if it’s a selection for the country’s representatives making the decision,” he told The Tribune.

However, he said, he will not support another full lockdown should the government take that course of action again.

“I do disagree with the lockdowns,” he said.

“While employees are at work with their employers, their employers are keeping them safe, making them wear masks and disinfecting hands, doing social distancing so they have to work, they work their 45 or 48 hours a week.

“They’re not catching it in the supermarkets. They’re getting it socially, so when they’re with us we keep them safe and when they go home we have to take care of their daily works and so on and between work and their responsibilities, that wears them out and they have to go to bed.”

He added: “But when you lockdown, then that extra time they get, they say ‘oh, good times roll’, they go clubbing and gathering and I think this is where the spread is coming from, so lockdowns are doing the opposite of what they think. I know lockdowns are spreading it. Lockdowns are not flattening the curve, they spread it.”

Lockdowns have often been used by the Minnis administration amid the COVID-19 pandemic as a tool to curb community spread, with health officials insisting the measures as being effective.

The COVID-19 Emergency Powers Orders, which gives Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis - the Competent Authority - sweeping powers during the state of emergency like the ability to impose a lockdown, ends on November 30.

However, on Wednesday, Dr Minnis gave notice in the House of Assembly of his intention to extend the country’s state of emergency until December 28.

The move came as a surprise as many expected the orders to end this month, especially after Dr Minnis said last month the discontinuation of COVID-19 Emergency Powers Orders would depend on an improvement of virus-related cases.

While several Family Islands have recently seen a spike of new infections, the COVID-19 situation on New Providence and Abaco has significantly improved.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health reported 25 new COVID-19 cases, with nine on New Providence, ten on Grand Bahama, three on Abaco, two on Berry Islands and one in Bimini. The new tally pushes the country’s total to 7,348.

The decline in COVID-19 cases, particularly in New Providence, has led some observers to believe that there is no need to extend the emergency orders.