With Storms Brewing, Bahamas Relaxes Tight Covid-19 Lockdown

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis is reversing an order to shut down businesses on the main island of New Providence, easing one of the most dramatic Covid-19 lockdowns in the Caribbean, as brewing storms threatened to leave islanders without supplies.

Grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware shops and gas stations on New Providence, home to the capital Nassau, will be allowed to reopen from Wednesday, the prime minister’s office said. While on Monday night Minnis had ordered all businesses to immediately shut for seven days amid a spike in coronavirus cases, the decision triggered criticism from political rivals for catching the population without enough stockpiles.

In reversing his decision, Minnis said that people needed to buy food and prepare better before a lockdown, particularly with twopotential storms brewing in the Atlantic.

“There is broad understanding of the need to lockdown New Providence in order to control and slow the spread of Covid-19,” Minnis said in a statement. “However, it is also clear that families and businesses need more time to prepare.”

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With a population of 385,640 people, the Bahamas has reported 1,329 cases of the coronavirus and 19 deaths, according to thePan American Health Organization, overwhelming local hospitals.

Last year, Hurricane Dorian destroyed thousands of homes on the archipelago.

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