Video: Govt Press Conference On Covid-19

May 28, 2020 | 4 Comments

[Updated] The Government is holding a press conference this evening [May 28] to update the public on Covid-19. We will have additional coverage later on and in the meantime, the live video is below, and you can follow our live updates here.

Update: The Government said, “The Ministry of Health received 115 new COVID-19 results today. 114 results were negative and 1 was positive. Total confirmed cases in Bermuda is now 140.”

Update 6.28pm: Minister Kim Wilson’s full statement follows below:

Good Afternoon,

Today 115 test results were received by the Ministry of Health; and 1 was positive for COVID-19.

Bermuda has 140 total confirmed positive cases. Their status is as follows:

  • there are 39 active cases, of which
  • 30 persons are under active public health monitoring, and
  • 9 persons are hospitalized; of which
  • 2 are in critical care;
  • a total of 92 have now recovered, and
  • the total deceased remains 9.

The average age of all of our confirmed positive cases is 61 and the age range of all of our positive cases is from 18 to 101 years.

The average age of persons hospitalized is 76 and their age ranges from 66 to 91 years.

The average age of all deceased cases is 74 and the age range is 57 to 91 years.

The source of all local cases is as follows:

  • 41 are Imported
  • 83 are Local transmission, with known contact
  • 10 are Local transmission with an unknown contact, and
  • 6 are under investigation

Bermuda’s country status remains “Local Transmission – Cluster of Cases”; and our real-time reproduction number is 0.83.

While our transmission rate is very good right now, I want to remind the public that shielding seniors and persons who are clinically vulnerable remains extremely important. Some of the recent new cases we have seen were due to insufficient shielding, indicating that everyone may not understand fully the principles of shielding.

An individual who is more susceptible to COVID-19 complications must be shielded not just from the public but also from household members who go out into the public.  For instance, a family member who is the caregiver of a vulnerable person must take strict precautions when providing hands-on care to the shielded person IF they themselves go out to do the shopping, errands and even casual socializing with others outside the household.

Shielding means protecting the medically vulnerable from ANYONE who has outside-the-home contact with others.  So if you are taking care of someone who is shielded, or simply wishing to visit or help them, remember that YOU are the risk. So take care to wear and mask and stay 6 feet apart where possible. And if you must do hands-on care, review the guidance for care-givers outlining the precautions you must take.

I’m extremely pleased to see that HealthIQ is being used by more and more people. Adoption of new technologies is going to be vital to our phased reopening, so I encourage everyone with a mobile device to download HealthIQ and update your status regularly.

The “heat map” provided by HealthIQ will give you a good sense of geographical areas where there may be a higher concentration of cases, indicating that you MUST wear your mask and practice distancing and hand hygiene more rigorously.

These actions will feed into our reopening indicators, so it is extremely important for as many people as possible to give their status through this App. Visit healtiq.bm to download the App.

As we enter a holiday week-end I want to remind the public that preventive measures helped get us to Phase 2, and without them we will not progress to phase 3.

Restaurants have been asked to collect names and contact details of their patrons, and I understand some have faced resistance from the public. However, we do need everyone to cooperate. This is a vital public health requirement.

Patrons’ contact information is being requested so that contact tracing can take place rapidly if a positive COVID-19 case is identified. Without the contact details, our contact tracing team would be unable to reach other persons who might have been exposed as they were dining at the same time, at a nearby table.

We are amending the guidance so that only one person from each table needs to give their contact details. This will suffice for contact tracers in the event of an outbreak and should reduce the amount of information to be collected.

As of May 21, retail stores which had previously operated under curbside and delivery-only service were able to open their doors to in-store customers…but only under certain conditions. These conditions are detailed in the Phase 2 Retail Directives published on the Government website coronavirus.gov.bm; some of which I will share with you now….

For in-store shopping, staff and customers must wear masks at all times and physical distancing of at least 6 feet must be maintained during any queuing. Additionally, customers must use hand sanitizers provided before entering the store.

The Regulations have been amended so retail customers will be able to visit any day, not by allotted shopping days. The same will apply to pet stores and gas stations.

The shopping days organized by alphabetical surname will remain only for grocery stores, as follows: A-F Monday and Thursday; G-Q Tuesday and Friday and R-Z Wednesday-Saturday. Sundays will be for seniors and shielded persons up to 1pm; and from 1pm the amended Regulations will allow persons over 55 years and essential workers to shop. Seniors and essential workers may shop any day of the week.

As a customer, you should notice many physical changes in the retail stores that you visit – such as floor markings and barriers, as well as increased signage reminding you to follow the physical distancing requirements, hand hygiene and the need to wear masks. Additionally, there should be accessible and visible sanitizing products for customers and staff, with hand sanitizers placed at each entrance of the store.

Only one person will be allowed to use the restroom facilities at any given time and all surfaces will be regularly sanitized.

Where possible, stores should continue to provide online ordering, delivery or curb side pick up to reduce the need for customers to enter the store.

Businesses are required to monitor the health of their staff. Managers should look out for any staff members showing symptoms of COVID-19 and any employee showing symptoms should not be allowed to work. Managers will also have the right to refuse entry to customers who show other signs of illness such as coughing or sweating, at their discretion.

We encourage all front line workers in personal care services and retail to get tested. The drive through at Southside currently has openings for Saturday and Sunday, so register online.

I should highlight at this point that the web site has been revamped to ensure the vast amounts of information being published daily can be found more easily. If you haven’t been on the site recently, I invite you to go on coronavirus.gov.bm and browse the guidance documents, such as the one for restaurants and retail, as well as other information available.

Before I close today, I want to remind people about the Argus Telenurse hotline and GP Telehealth consultation service – a vital resource for uninsured and HIP clients.

When an individual calls the COVID-19 hotline feeling unwell with symptoms that are unrelated to COVID-19, and they are uninsured or have the Government’s HIP health insurance policy, they will be transferred to Argus’ contracted Telenurse vendor – FoneMed. The Telenurse will provide advice and, if the individual needs to consult a GP, the calls will be transferred to Argus to set up a Telehealth consultation with a GP in Bermuda. The COVID-19 hotline number is 444.2498.

Telenurse advice will improve access to healthcare and minimize unnecessary use of hospital emergency rooms and other medical services.

Finally, I want to reiterate the message of caution during the holiday weekend. Please remember that we are in Phase 2 with an “amber light” to proceed with caution. This is not a green light to party – even during a holiday week-end.

Most people are truly making a fantastic effort and following the rules. But it only needs a few careless people to cause an outbreak. If you see any infractions of groups over 10 congregating, not maintaining physical distancing, etc. please call 211 to report it. I know persons like to take pictures and/or send them to their MP, but the surest way to get an infraction acted upon is to report it to the authorities by dialling 211.

In closing, I want to wish you all an enjoyable – but safe – holiday weekend. Wear your mask at all times, practice physical distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep your social bubbles limited. The better we behave now and follow the rules, the greater the likelihood of a more ‘normal’ summer ahead.

Thank You.

Update 7.58pm: Minister Curtis Dickinson’s full statement follows below:

Good afternoon.

I am pleased to provide an update on three specific areas: the unemployment benefits; the Economic Advisory Committee; and the National Pension Scheme.

Unemployment Benefits

This week, I authorized unemployment benefit payments to 7,780 people, for a total of $9,210,000. We will now have paid benefits to over 9,000 people for a total cost of approximately $32 million. We expect further payments to continue on a bi-weekly schedule, which means another payment in two weeks on Friday, June 12.

As mentioned earlier, we continue to make progress to resolve problem applications, and this week we paid 640 applicants for the first time.

Last week I advised that over 1,400 people had notified the Department of Workforce Development of their planned return to work. This number continues to grow as Bermuda enters its second week of Phase Two, and over 2,600 individuals who were previously receiving benefits, have now returned to work – up by more than 1,200 from last week.

I want to reiterate that all individuals and companies have a responsibility to notify the Government of your return to work to confirm your eligibility period. Please visit www.bermudajobboard.bm, follow the link at the top for COVID-19 Unemployment Application, then the link at the top for the Back to Work form.

For those that have already done so, we thank you for the act of responsible citizenship.

The COVID-19 Economic Advisory Committee

The economic Advisory Committee held its second meeting yesterday, and the committee provided initial feedback and comments on the impact of COVID-19 on all sectors of the economy.

The committee explored proposed ideas that we have received to date from some of these sectors. In addition, the committee has now received submissions from other entities and individuals, including submissions made on the government forum website, and as agreed to include these as part of our assessments.

The Committee will be now be reviewing other possible ‘quick win’ ideas which could benefit the community in the short term.

National Pension Scheme

The public would be aware that the Government recently amended the National Pension Scheme [Occupational Pensions] Act 1998 to permit eligible members of private occupational pension plans, and local retirement products as appropriate:

[a]to make a voluntary withdrawal of up to $12,000, or
[b]take 25% of their pension account balances.

I am pleased to advise that starting on Monday June 1st, persons will be to make application for their funds.

With respect to the $12,000 withdrawal, applicants must be under the normal retirement age of 65 and not already retired. This is a one-time withdrawal, and applications are to be made to the applicant’s private pension plan administrators.

There are no fees associated with making this application and applicants should contact their administrators via phone or by email.

This option has been put in place as part of a COVID-19 economic relief programme to assist persons negatively affected by this pandemic. Therefore, persons will have until 30 June 2021 to make an application to request a withdrawal.

The Pension Commission has already provided guidance to the plan administrators to assist them with reviewing, processing and approving applications in order to make the process as efficient as possible.

Persons eligible for the 25% withdrawal should be 65, retired, no longer working and have not converted their pension account balance into an annuity.

Applications are to be made to the Pension Commission. The Commission stands ready to assist retirees in answering any questions they may have and applicants can contact them at 295-8672 for further information.

There are no fees associated with making the application, and there is no time limit for retirees to make an application under this option.

Thank you, and I wish everyone a happy Bermuda Day. Please stay safe.

Update 8.07pm: Minister Wayne Caines’ full statement follows below:

As we approach the holiday weekend and we begin to witness more activity, the Bermuda Police Service and the Royal Bermuda Regiment will maintain a regular presence around Bermuda.

The Royal Bermuda Regiment will triple their force on land and sea over the long weekend, establishing visibility in public places and stronger enforcement of the evening curfew.

Although the community has been generally compliant with laws and regulations thus far, there is an expectation that the use of boats, beaches and parks will increase during this period.

Whilst it is usually a time for families to gather in their dozens, they are reminded that group sizes are clearly defined in law, and all personnel are expected to comply.

The Coast Guard will continue its 24-hour a day coverage, taking particular interest in boat movements in the early morning, and where raft-ups are common.

Coast Guard jet skis will be out each day to monitor public behaviour on the water, and the BPS is expected to utilise drone capability in the Great Sound.

Boat operators and passengers are reminded that they are to be off the water by 7pm.

Any vessel found to be in use for recreational reasons after that time will be considered in breach of the law, even if they are returning to their dock or mooring. Here are some other holiday weekend guidelines that the public should be aware of:

Boats and watercrafts:

  • All vessels must be off the water by 7:00pm.
  • Only 10 person maximum on board including the crew, all should be exercising physical distancing in and out of the water.
  • There should be NO raft-ups.

Public Beaches and Parks:

  • There should be no overnight camping.
  • The public should still be exercising physical distancing in the water and on land.
  • The Police and Regiment will be patrolling the beaches and parks to ensure compliance, even while swimming.

Restaurants:

  • Outdoor dining only.
  • Guests must provide their personal details to restaurant staff.
  • Guests must be masked until seated.
  • The public can report breaches by calling 211.

I’d like to now turn to the matter of Immigration.

The Ministry of National Security has been flooded with questions from the public and our business sectors about the status of Immigration during the COVID-19 landscape.

Here is what I can advise.

On Monday, June 1st the Department of Immigration will receive all types of applications for processing – this includes work permits, passports, land licenses, Bermudian Status, naturalization, PRCs, and more.

All application submissions will be via drop box.

ALL incomplete applications will be returned via regular mail.

Applicants are encouraged to ensure their applications are complete at initial submission. If they have doubts they should contact the Chief Immigration Officer [dwming@ gov.bm] or the Assistant Chief Immigration Officer [magrimes@gov.bm].

Completed Passports will be mailed via registered mail, and Visitor’s Extensions will continue to be processed at the L.F. Wade International Airport.

The Department will maintain its online banking payment process.

I’d like to now outline the submission guidelines for applications in the Personal Services Section.

New Applications will be accepted starting June 1st.

This includes applications for Bermudian Status, Permanent Resident’s Certificate, Extension of Ex-Spouse’s Employment Rights, Permissions to Let, Land Licences, Annual Basis, Residential Certificates, Spousal Letters, Naturalisation, British Nationality, Deferral Certificates, and requests for copies of documents.

The Process:

Completed applications; including supporting documents should be put in the dropbox provided.

  • Your application will be vetted for completeness.
  • Applicants will be contacted and advised that their application can be processed or if information remains outstanding.
  • If no additional information is needed, applicants will be instructed to pay the fee online and submit the application via the drop box.
  • If additional information is required, the applicant must satisfy this before re-submitting the application via email for re-vetting.

Passport Applications:

Expired Passports will be accepted starting Monday June 1, 2020.

There will be no requirement for counter-signatories for persons 16 and older.
The passport process is as follows:

  • Completed applications; including supporting documents should be put in the dropbox provided.
  • Your application will be vetted for completeness.
  • Applicants will be contacted and advised that their application can be processed or if information remains outstanding.
  • If no additional information is needed, applicants will be instructed to pay the fee online and submit the application via the drop box.
  • If additional information is required, the applicant must satisfy this before re-submitting the application via email for re-vetting.

New Passports [First-time Applicants] will be accepted on Monday June 1.
Counter-signatories are still needed for new passport applications.
The process:

  • Completed applications; including supporting documents should be put in the drop box provided.
  • Your application will be vetted for completeness.
  • Applicants will be contacted and advised that their application can be processed or if information remains outstanding.
  • If no additional information is needed, applicants will be instructed to pay the fee online and submit the application via an appointment.
  • If additional information is required, the applicant must satisfy this before re-submitting the application via email for re-vetting.

Any requirements for face-to-face interactions with customers will be by appointment only. On such occasions all customers and Immigration staff must wear a mask and gloves.

Turning to the area of work permits.

For work permits that will expire between June 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020, work permit holders can continue to work without penalty or the need for an appeal to the Minister responsible for Immigration.

Lastly, while this Government recognizes the significance and sensitivities associated with the topic of immigration, as a country we are facing times of the likes we have never seen before.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in business and economic uncertainty and widespread unemployment globally.

Consequently, here at home, as we progress forward, we will need to review, reassess and reevaluate our immigration policies and procedures in order to adapt to these unprecedented times.

More specifically, we will now be closely scrutinizing our work permit policy as there are a significant number of Bermudians who are unemployed.

We must now look at closing certain categories.
Quite frankly, permission to reside and seek employment is going to being assessed on a case by case basis.

Employers and guest workers must understand that in this current climate, work permit approvals are not guaranteed.

In instances where there are clearly opportunities for hiring Bermudians, work permits will be denied.

And as a result in some of these cases, guest workers may need to leave the island if their work permit is not granted.

We will make every effort to balance the need for work permit holders who provide specialized services to remain in those roles.

However, in these cases, the local business must provide training, development and succession planning for Bermudians to take over in these roles.

Bermudians also have a responsibility.

They must retrain where necessary, and they must be willing to work in other areas of industry that they may not be used to.

Ultimately, this Government has a responsibility to ensure Bermudians have access to employment opportunities.

We’ve heard the heartache of our people who have been left without work due to COVID-19.

We’ve heard the devastating accounts of Bermudian families who during the economic shut down have been desperately trying to make ends meet; who have been desperately trying to pay mortgages and rent; and who have been desperately trying to put food on the table for their children.

These are real accounts from people who we know — our brothers, our sisters, our close family members, our neighbours and our friends.

So this Government is urging our businesses as they reopen – to consider hiring out of work Bermudians to provide a service in their establishments.

If a Bermudian can do that job instead of a guest worker, than the Bermudian worker should take precedence.

During this time of uncertainty, we must all do our part to help and support one another.

And our businesses have a significant role to play in ensuring that Bermudians are employed.

Finally, the public is reminded that they can report any immigration breaches via the Tip Line at 296-5202 or they can call 295-5151, ext. 3514, 3515, 1951 or 1694.

Thank you.

Update 8.39pm: Minister Lt/Col David Burch’s full statement follows below:

Good evening.

In early April the Premier appointed a Cabinet Sub Committee of the front line Ministers in this pandemic – Health, Education, National Security and Tourism & Transport and myself to collaborate, coordinate and make recommendations to the full Cabinet on reopening the economy.

The aim is for the committee to review progress on the various phases, receive external submissions, assess them and make recommendations to Cabinet on the way forward. The purpose of the phases is so that planning can occur and the timing of each phase can be either accelerated or slowed depending on the public’s behavior.

To that end I can advise the following changes published today:

1.The requirement to mandatorily quarantine will cease on Sunday except the approximately 20 remaining persons who will complete their time there at the dedicated facility.

Anyone arriving in Bermuda after 31 May will be allowed to self-quarantine at home for 14 days [as was the case before a Government Quarantine facility was provide] subject to the following conditions:

Regular Police checks
Regular Health care visits

2.The alphabetical requirements for shopping days will be removed for retail, gas stations and hardware stores – but will remain in place for supermarkets.

3.Sunday shopping will be restricted to seniors & vulnerable persons up to 1pm and then open to essential workers thereafter.

One of the things we have noted already in Phase 2 – particularly in the restaurant sector – is the non-compliance to the social distancing rules while at the same time receiving appeals from the Chamber of Commerce to relax the regulations further. Might I suggest that the Chambers responsibility extends to encouraging their members to adhere to the regulations as well.

Looking forward the Committee is constantly reviewing progress through Phase 2 – with a view to how we might accelerate this phase – as well we expect recommendations from the Minister of Education on the opening of schools and the discussions on the very complicated opening of our borders continue with the Minister of Tourism & Transport. Top of the list is the approach to Summer Camps from the Department of Youth, Sport & Recreation.

Additionally, broad consultation with the players in Phases 3 & 4 will occur before we get to those stages so that the necessary preparations can occur.

Finally, under the authority of section 25[g] of the Bermuda National Parks Act 1986 and section 3 of BNP Regulations 1988, the Minister responsible for Parks has the authority to make regulations the following will be in effect for the Bermuda Day Holiday Friday 29th, Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st May 2020.

All beaches, parks and nature reserves will be closed from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am the following morning.

No camping permits will be issued and overnight camping at designated campgrounds, parks, beaches, or nature reserves is not permitted.

There will be NO bonfires allowed at the parks and beaches and no Special / Bonfire Permits will be issued.

This is not punishment – it is protection.

In the main the majority residents have followed the Public Health protocols and we must continue to do so. In the forefront of our minds is the mitigation of risk with directives from health in how we manage this crisis – that is what drives our decisions.

Thank you, Premier.

Update: Premier David Burt’s full statement follows below:

Good afternoon Bermuda.

On the eve of the day in which we celebrate our heritage, our culture and all things Bermudian and a day when many of us would normally be locking in our parade spot and setting up our camps, we recognize this will be a Bermuda Day unlike any other in our recent memory.

Many will experience a virtual Bermuda Day Parade in place our usual floats, majorette bands and gombeys. Some will be boating without rafting up, and family gatherings will be smaller and require physical distancing; all things very alien to us as Bermudians but very necessary.

The announcement of more confirmed cases of the coronavirus over the past few days is a reminder that this virus is still a very real threat. With the reopening of the economy and our aggressive testing regime, we expected that more cases would be identified. And while no news of any new cases of the coronavirus could be considered good news, the early identification of these cases means that as a community, we are better placed to contain the transmission of this virus.

Our Real Time Reproductive Number remains below one, and we remain among the world leaders in testing per capita. I expect to receive a presentation on the revised modeling numbers within the next week. As we did previously, we will share the details with the Opposition, Members of Parliament, the Senate and other stakeholders, and we will provide an update to the public at a future press conference.

We currently have the supplies on island to test 12,000 people in Bermuda, which is about a two month supply at our current test rate. Additionally, we have enough testing kits to conduct a further 180,000 tests. We have PPE to cover the needs of all of our essential workers and the hospital has enough beds to avoid being overwhelmed at our current rates of transmission.

However, the numbers announced over the past few days means we must remain alert and continue to follow the physical distancing guidelines. These guidelines apply to the young people in Bermuda, who are socializing without masks. I cannot stress enough the importance of wearing a mask. There are some in our community who do not have symptoms of the coronavirus yet have this virus, and can spread it to others, meaning that you can spread to others, and then infect vulnerable family members. That is why wearing a mask is crucial, you’re protecting those around you, and you are helping to prevent the spread of the virus.

The island is currently in Phase 2, Expansion of Services. As a government and as a people, we do not want to go back. We want to continue progressing with the opening of our island ensuring that more of our fellow Bermudians can get back to work, to safely provide for their families. The Ministry of Health is continuing to monitor this pandemic closely and has developed a set of indicators that can judge how well our country is doing in all the metrics required to keep this virus at bay.

Furthermore, the resources and support of the government, the Opposition, public officers, the private sector, our union partners, and other stakeholders are all tasked with working together to ensure employees can get back to work safely, at the appropriate time, while preserving the health and well-being of everyone on our island.

The trust that you’ve given us, the support you’ve provided us, and the responsibilities you’ve placed with us, are things that we consider sacred, and we will continue to make decisions that will keep each of us safe, as we move forward with the reopening of our economy and getting people back to work.

At today’s press conference I’m joined by the Minister of Health, the Minister of National Security, the Minister of Public Works, and the Minister of Finance, who will give various updates on respective issues within their remit.

First we will hear from the Minister of Health, who will update on the latest cases, speak about the importance of shielding our vulnerable in light of the seniors who were recently hospitalized with COVID-19 and the regulations in place for retail establishments. Minister of Health.

Minister Of Health Speaks

Thank you Minister of Health, and congratulations to the team that works in the Department of Communications who put up on the new website, coronavirus.gov.bm, which is easy to follow and you can find the great amount of information is much easier to access now.

I just want to reiterate what the Minister of Health has said on the importance of shielding. If you are a family member of someone who is in a vulnerable population, and you decide to put them at risk by hanging out with persons who are not wearing masks, then that means you are putting them at risk. As has been stated, there has been recent hospitalizations, of vulnerable persons and that has come from the fact that family members, even though these persons are staying at home, bringing this virus into their homes. I cannot stress enough, that if you are out in public with people who are not wearing the masks, you are putting your family members at risk.

Maintain your physical distance and be smart. Because if you are outside with others, that is the same as your vulnerable family member, being outside – we’ve seen some of these new cases. I cannot stress it enough that if we are not individually responsible, then we will see more vulnerable persons who are staying at home and following the rules, become exposed, due to persons, family members, that are bringing the disease into their household.

The Minister of Public Works, Lt. Col David Burch has been tasked with chairing the Cabinet Committee on the reopening of our economy. Today, he will provide an update on the decisions reached and changes to the regulations that went into effect today and some additional restrictions for our public parks and beaches this holiday weekend to ensure that Bermuda remains safe.

Minister Burch Speaks

Thank you Minister Burch.

News of businesses having Bermudian workers stay home while employees on work permits were brought back in, is deeply disturbing to us as a Government that is committed to putting Bermudians first, and is unacceptable. We condemn these actions and encourage anyone who knows, or has evidence, of these activities or any other violation of our immigration laws or work permit policies, to report it. Those who choose to break our laws, skirt our work permit policies, act against the best interest of the country, and against the spirit of unity and togetherness displayed across our island will be dealt with under the law.

Today, the Minister of National Security will provide an update on matters related to immigration and matters related to enforcement.

Minister Of National Security Speaks.

Thank you Minister.

As Premier, I’m confident that the Cabinet Committee, under the leadership of Colonel Burch and comprising the Ministers of Health, National Security, Tourism and Transport, and Education, in their ability able to contain the impact of COVID-19 on the health of our community, while safely reopening our economy, so that persons can get back to work and to provide for their families.

I have now turned my attention to working closely with the Minister of Finance to stimulate and reimagine our economy. The Minister of Finance will now provide an update on matters related to the economy, and others in the Ministry of Finance. Minister.

Minister Of Finance

Thank you Minister of Finance for that update.

Before I move to some questions from members of the public, and my close, I just want to add a note that this afternoon the Government received confirmation that there will be a charter flight, on Air Canada to Bermuda, on the 5 June, from Toronto.

If you are in Canada, and ordinarily residents in Bermuda, and you wish to return home, or if you are a Canadian resident and want to return to Canada, you should email info@traveledge.bm.

There were a couple of questions which came in on my social media where I put out a request for people to send questions for us to answer. A number of ministers have already answered a lot of the questions which have been asked. I do want to touch on two questions before I close.

One question was, “Are we allowed to attach our moorings and sleep out and stay at our mooring, or do we still have to return home by 7pm?” The answer to that is yes, you must be off the water, as the Minister of National Security said, by 7pm.

Another question which was asked, and this is an important one. It says, “What is the goal when it comes to COVID-19. Is there a certain number of COVID cases we are trying to reach, taking into account that the cure could be worse than the virus when it comes to

economic depression, social, physical, sexual, and mental abuse or lack of other medical treatments.”

I thank that member of the public for their question. The Chief Medical Officer is here today, and informs the Advisory Council with the Minister of Health and others, and this was a matter of which we discuss earlier today. The truth is that the Government of Bermuda’s policy is not the complete and total elimination of the virus from our shores. Though that would be great, it would require unprecedented economic damage and unprecedented isolation for that to be the case. And it would require our borders to remain closed until there is a vaccine, and for all persons in Bermuda or enough persons in Bermuda to be vaccinated.

That is not the policy of the Government of Bermuda. The policy the Government of Bermuda, is to aggressively test, trace, and isolate cases, and make sure that we enforce physical distancing and the requirements to minimize the transmission of the virus in our shores.

As the Minister of Health indicated during her remarks, next week we will be unveiling a dashboard which will be updated and will show the public in a very simple green, yellow and red on where we stand on the various indicators which are necessary and responsible to either move us to future phases or require us to go back to previous phases. That is the policy of the Government of Bermuda. We are trying to balance it but we are not trying to move forward in a spirit of keeping our economy closed in an attempt to completely eliminate the virus from our shores. You are correct, there are lots of repercussions and in some cases the cure can be worse than the disease.

In closing, we are facing a future that will require creativity, adaptability and delivery by the Government, and by each and every one of us. We all have an important role to play, and we must each step up, step forward, as we collectively raise our game as a country.

Whatever we are doing, wherever we are working, we must show up and give that 100%. Delivering a full day’s work to make sure that our economy can become stronger; our island’s future depends on it.

On the eve of Bermuda Day we must embrace the values, strength and resilience of our people. Those values of strength and resilience that we have displayed throughout our history. Over the centuries, we were built our economy, again and again, and over the centuries we have reinvented ourselves.

We had to be innovative and offer the world, things of value and appeal. Our island of farmers and fishermen groups become sloop builders, whale hunters, pearl divers and then changed to become leaders in tourism and International Business. As a country, we did not

come this far, by saying, “that’s not my job”, or being unwilling to do what it takes to succeed and make our island home better.

As we continue to move through this pandemic, we recognize every country around the world is facing similar issues. How to rebuild their economy and get their people back to work. We have a lot of advantages here in Bermuda, given the fact that we are small, and we are nimble, and we have the skills and the ability to do things differently.

It’s very important that each of us do what we can, where we can contribute to our country in a positive and productive manner.

It is important that as we pause this weekend to celebrate our heritage, it is very important that we look towards the future, and remember that the only persons who can shape the stories which they’ll be telling in future heritage days are those of us right now who are living through this pandemic. Before I take questions, I wish everyone a happy and safe Bermuda tomorrow.

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  1. winfield says:

    Two questions
    1. We seemed to be getting the Covid situation under some control due to good work, good leadership and adherence to rules. But last weekend we had two large jumps of five plus six new cases. Why? Does Government have any information that gives some understanding to the source of these increases?
    2. Please explain the decision to abandon quarantine. With air bridges happening, we did have some comfort that we had control of incoming potential carriers and could identify and treat before they got into the community. Prior to mandatory quarantine, there was ample evidence that people were not adhering to the voluntary quarantine conditions. What then reverse this policy? Does Government know something that gives them a rationale for relaxing this requirement? Are Government. Or risking new infection from abroad when flights do come in, air bridge or not, If there is no mandatory quarantine? It appears to make no sense to abandon compulsory quarantine at this time. It has worked, why insert this new risk of new infection back into the community?

  2. Hungry says:

    Premier Burt, can you please comment on the reason for the shopping by names? Is there any evidence anywhere in the world that this has any impact? Today would have been my day but it’s a holiday. So I have to wait until Tuesday to buy food for my family. I tried to request an exemption to feed my family, but I noticed that the government has removed the exemption form from their website now. So we will stay hungry over the holidays because I had to work all week.

    • George Alexander says:

      Sunday is the ‘makeup’ day.

    • Ringmaster says:

      The Premier has stated elsewhere, but not in the update, you can shop on Sunday as you lost Friday.

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