Ministry of Health Press Release – Two New Positive Cases

Ministry of Health Press Release July 7th

The Ministry of Health can report that two positive COVID-19 results were detected during arrival testing of passengers from yesterday’s Delta flight.

The Minister of Health the Hon. Kim Wilson JP MP said, “Although this is disappointing news, it is a testament to our stringent testing regime that we were able to identify these individuals early and move to quarantine all passengers with public health monitoring. Strict quarantine is essential in this case as the risk of exposure has been identified. Our main priority is ensuring that cases of COVID-19 are isolated from the community and that it does not spread to our domestic population.”

  • There were 47 passengers on this flight
  • All of whom had Travel Authorizations and 29 had pre-departure tests
  • Out of the 29 individuals who took a pre-departure test, 19 were visitors and 10 were residents
  • All but 3 passengers (44) were tested for COVID-19 upon arrival
  • Two passengers did not require testing as they were under the age of 10 and the other was a minor who will quarantine instead of testing.”

Both of the individuals who tested positive are residents of Bermuda.  Residents are not required to undergo a pre-departure test however one of the travelers had a pre-departure test which was negative for COVID-19.

Press Conference Update July 2nd 2020

Bermuda Government COVID-19 Update July 2, 2020

 

Good afternoon Bermuda.

Today, I am joined by the Minister of Health the Hon. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Tourism and Transport the Hon. Zane De Silva and the Minister of Finance the Hon. Curtis Dickinson, who will give remarks. The Minister of National Security the Hon. Wayne Caines is available to answer questions from the media. We are also joined by the Acting CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, Mr. Glenn Jones.

I would like to begin my remarks this evening with a sadly familiar refrain. Addressing a malicious message surrounding our young Bermudians who have put their lives on hold to assist Bermuda during this pandemic. And unfortunately, today I’m speaking, again, about Dr. Carika Weldon. Why am I speaking about it is because I’ve been made aware that there are, once again malicious messages circulating via WhatsApp, and social media. I’m going to address those messages point by point.

  • The Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory’s laboratory layout and testing operations were reviewed by Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) when first set-up to communicate any necessary changes needed prior to testing;
  • As part of the start-up process included sending samples to Helix for cross checking. This is known as a verification process. This was the same process undergone by Helix when the COVID-19 testing began. It required that all positive samples and a percentage of negatives were to be sent to CARPHA for verification. All sample processes included using the nasopharyngeal swab only and these were done and reviewed by PAHO;
  • We are currently receiving a high number of negatives – because there’s some insinuation that we’re receiving negatives because the testing is not good. We are receiving a high number of negatives because the aggressive testing that occurred during containment phase, to ensure that there were no missed cases in the community, when positive cases were initially imported. It is a testament to the excellent work that we have done in the community, and as a country that there is a low rate of positives, and this has nothing to do with testing protocols.

Finally, I personally find it interesting that people would be questioning the pooling method which is in use by the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, as a reason why the standards are not as high as they should be. When just this week testimony was given to the United States Congress, by none other than Dr. Anthony Fauci, stating that the USA may want to consider pooling to speed up their testing. Our own Dr. Weldon was ten weeks ahead of the United States of America and this protocol was already implemented in Bermuda.

There are those who seek attention and validation by creating lies, or by sharing them. There are those who unquestionably share whatever is forwarded to them without asking questions, engaging critical thought, or even thinking about what they are forwarding may mean to other persons. To those who are engaging in this type of behavior, I ask you to please stop.

And yet beyond that, this latest set of malicious lies fits a pattern that so many young educated, intelligent, and talented Bermudians face when they return home. It is unacceptable, intolerable and offensive. And I cannot and will not let Dr. Weldon, or any other young Bermudian who has put their life on hold, to help their country, be subjected to attacks and abuse of this nature, and no other Bermudian should be either.

At a time when most of us have come together, those among us who seek to disrespect, denigrate, and destroy this young, outstanding, Black, Bermudian, female doctor, or any other Bermudian serving their country should be ashamed of their actions and their outmoded beliefs.

Bermuda has done well. People look at us and say look how well Bermuda has done because countless young Bermudians have risen to the occasion. From testing, to technology, to working on the front lines. We’ve innovated and shown ourselves to be an example for the world. And I urge all of us to dedicate more time and energy to building each other up instead of rushing to tear other Bermudians down.

With that introduction. I’m happy to turn over the mic to the Minister of Health for updates on COVID-19 testing and other matters related to the Ministry of Health.

Minister.

MINISTER OF HEALTH STATEMENT

Good Afternoon,

Today there were 273 test results received by the Ministry of Health; and none were positive for COVID-19.

Bermuda has 146 total confirmed positive cases. As of today we have only two actives case in Bermuda, of which one is currently hospitalized but not in critical care.

  • A total of 135 have recovered, and
  • the total deceased remains 9.

The average age of all of our confirmed positive cases is 60 and the age range of all of our positive cases is from 18 to 101 years.

The source of all local cases is as follows:

  • 42 are Imported
  • 85 are Local transmission, with known contact
  • 16 are Local transmission with an unknown contact, and
  • 3 are under investigation

Bermuda’s country status is “Local Transmission – Sporadic Cases”. The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is below 1.

There are now over 9,000 persons registered on HealthIQ. Well done, Bermuda. Keep it coming as we are nearly at the 10,000 target to get a green light on our indicators.

We have been receiving a lot of questions regarding the saliva tests. These have arrived on island but will not be ready for use just yet as they need to go through the regular validation process which requires testing with positive samples. Because we have only two positive cases on island currently, we can’t complete the validation process. However, once this is done, we will be able to use it as part of our screening programmes.

As you all know, today we received the first commercial flight from Toronto. Thanks to an incredible team of professionals from multiple Government departments and agencies, we were well prepared and successfully landed and health screened all arriving passengers.

We set up the new system very fast and we are aware that there were some technical glitches with the online portal to apply for Travel Authorizations. Nevertheless, we are working through those and, importantly, we were able to capture the information we needed.

It disappointed me greatly to learn that at least one passenger from the flight took it upon themselves to breach the obligatory quarantine and visited a local restaurant after getting off the flight. Luckily the individuals were identified and public health and enforcement officials are pursuing the matter now.

With our borders now open once again to commercial flights, I want to stress that this is NOT an indication that we have won the battle against COVID-19, or that we can now relax our protective measures. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. As I have said before, with more freedom, comes more responsibility.

The measures that will keep us safe seem so simple, it can be hard to believe how important they are. But they are our best protection.

Please wash your hands frequently, use hand sanitizer before and after entering any store or public building, shield our medically vulnerable, and continue to wear your mask and keep six feet apart if you are not wearing one.

We have put in place stringent measures for incoming travellers and to ensure we can identify any COVID cases early and isolate immediately. However, with open borders comes the potential to import COVID-19, so we must be diligent in our preventive measures at all times – even more than we have been until now.

With less legal restrictions on our activities, we must still place personal restrictions on our activities. For our mental and physical health it’s important to be active and social, but we must be clear on the risks involved. To help with this, an activity guide has been posted on the Government website today which details some activities on the high and low risk scale.

For example, low risk activities include walking or biking outdoors, which can be with friends if you stay 6 feet apart. Another low-risk activity is dining outdoors, provided that tables are 6 feet apart and diners avoid high-touch items like menus.

Low to medium risk activities include picnicking outside with friends, so long as you keep 6 feet from others, keep groups small, wear masks, and don’t share food or utensils.

Going to the beach and swimming in a pool also fall into this category so long as you physical distance from others, avoid locker rooms, and spend most of your time in motion.

Medium risk activities include a children’s playdate outside, so long as you keep groups small, don’t share food and wear masks.

Conversely, activities that are Medium to high risk include socializing outside with a large group. The more people, the more likely you may be exposed. You should physical distance and wear masks.

Going to the gym is also a medium to high risk activity, but there are many things you can and should do to minimize the risk, which are listed on the guidance note for gyms at coronavirus.gov.bm.

High risk activities include visiting elderly parents or friends who are high-risk for COVID-19. Avoid physical contact with them and meet outside if possible. Don’t visit them if you have symptoms, have been exposed, or might be sick.

This is also not a great time to be dating new people.  Outdoor, physically-distanced dates are relatively safe, but avoid close physical contact.

Very high risk activities include attending a big party indoors or being in a large gathering or dense crowds. Avoid these at all costs, unless strictly necessary.

It is more important than ever that we each play our part in keeping our community safe. It’s not by luck that we have avoided community spread so far; it is through our hard work and diligent efforts to follow Government guidelines and directions.

Before closing I want to comment briefly on the latest news that have created a lot of chatter about the island’s health system.

By now the majority of Bermuda would have heard of the merger that took place between Argus Insurance and the two medical practices, Island Health Services and the Family Practice Group.  This merger within the private sector took place privately and without Ministry of Health or Bermuda Health Council knowledge or involvement – this is not unlawful, as the law currently stands. Nevertheless, it is an important development in our small health system and so it merits comment.

You would be aware that as a result of this pandemic, much of our worst fears and anxieties about our health system have become a reality.  We have businesses that cannot afford health insurance, workers who are unemployed and now uninsured, families who are going without treatment, medications that are out of the reach of seniors.  Argus and the medical practices took it upon themselves to try to smooth out some of these rough spots for their specific clients by investing in one another. Though that may be of benefit for their piece of the pie, its impact on the overall health system needs to be considered.

We will continue to pursue a better health system that works for everyone, in good times and bad, and will work with all individuals, businesses, and all sectors to make that a reality. Universal health coverage remains this Government’s goal.  We will not squander the lessons that COVID-19 has taught us: that we are much better as a country when we do things in a unified manner and will not neglect what we have lived each day for the last 4 months, which has highlighted the importance of putting the health of our residents first and foremost.

Thank you and stay safe, Bermuda.

Thank you, Minister of Health.

Today marks the first day of the safe opening of our airport to returning commercial traffic. We have examined every aspect of reopening. Many Bermudians who have been stranded overseas since the start of travel restrictions will be returning home and business and tourism visitors are expected to be amongst them.

This Government’s stance, since Bermuda was in Phase 1, was we would not open the airport until we were convinced that we had the appropriate protections in place. The equipment in place, the monitoring measures in place and the strategy in place to keep our Customs Officers, airport staff, hospitality workers and wider community safe from the coronavirus.

Yesterday the Minister of National Security led an exercise at LF Wade International airport which walked through, step by step, the process to ensure that every “I” was dotted and every “T” was crossed in advance of today’s arrivals. We are confident that the health and safety measures Bermuda has put in place, will ensure the safety of our community.

As I have said recently, Bermuda’s entry requirements are amongst some of the toughest in the world. You should see on your screen a graphic that has been created to show the tests those arriving in Bermuda, compared to the rest of the world, or other countries in our region.

  • A traveler that does not have the clearance will not be boarded and will therefore not come to Bermuda.
  • All visitors coming to Bermuda will be required to be tested when they arrive. Tested on day 3, tested on day 7, and tested on day 14 of their stay. The number of tests required obviously depends on the length of stay.
  • We will ensure all Customs Officers, airport workers and officials will have on appropriate PPE and there will be physical distancing measures in place including physical barriers.
  • At any point, any visitor who tests positive will be fitted with a quarantine monitoring bracelet and will be required to isolate in their room. If they attempt to leave their room, the monitoring device will alert the authorities who will take the necessary steps to protect our community.

 

As we have sought to put our people back to work safely, the Minister of Tourism and Transport has been hard at work with industry stakeholders and the Bermuda Tourism Authority to ensure Bermuda is effective at getting tourists back to our shores.  Minister De Silva will now provide an update.

MINISTER OF TOURISM AND TRANSPORT STATEMENT

Good Afternoon,

As you know, regular commercial airline services resumed today (July 2nd 2020) at the L.F. Wade International Airport.

The first flight to arrive, Air Canada from Toronto, touched down a few minutes after 1pm today. I would like to commend everyone involved in making sure we were ready to welcome visitors and returning residents back to our island home.

Regarding visitors to Bermuda, we continue to work with the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) to inspire confidence in travelling again, by highlighting that Bermuda is a clean, safe and close jurisdiction that is reopening responsibly – with enhanced COVID-19 mitigation protocols in place by the Ministry of Health, that protect both visitors and the local community. To that end:

  • after having paused paid marketing since March 16, the BTA restarted paid placements Wednesday, July 1;
  • the BTA’s marketing plan will gradually ramp up through the coming weeks and intensify as we get closer to expected increases in airlift capacity and hotel inventory;
  • where to target is based on where there are flights, but also where there is workable flight connectivity – a task more difficult than it used to be, based on severely reduced flight schedules;
  • because visitor volume will be lower than normal, there’s a simultaneous inside-out marketing approach, where aspects of the visitor experience will be marketed to locals at the same time they’re marketed to visitors. Examples:
    • Golf Week (happening now);
    • Independent Retailer Month (happening this month);
    • Alfresco Dining Festival and World Tourism Day (in September);
    • Yacht & Catamaran Week (in October);
    • Spa Month (in November);
    • and Staycations (as properties reopen).

All of these are in development and expected to reach finalization soon, based on willingness from on-island stakeholders. The Ministry is also working with the BTA to reach out to vacation rental owners – as well as working closely with hoteliers – to assist with making their safety plans operational.

Next week, the BTA will survey the entire tourism economy to understand who is planning to open, plus when and what they’re doing to keep consumers safe.

That feedback is important, so that visitors are aware of not only when hotels will reopen and what restaurants are back in operation – but also what experiences, tours, retailers, museums, mini car and moped rentals, etc. are available – making sure visitors can be connected with both established and small businesses in the tourism space.

We are also in regular contact with the Bermuda Hotel Association (BHA), who remain committed to ensuring that the appropriate health and safety standards and COVID-19 mitigation protocols are in place at the island’s hotel properties, following Ministry of Health guidelines. For example:

  • masks will be worn by all employees in all public areas, staff areas and when working, and education on the correct use of masks will be provided as well;
  • hand sanitizer dispensers will be placed in key guest and employee areas, and all encouraged to practice good hygiene frequently and thoroughly;
  • signage regarding the Health requirements will be put in place; and,
  • both guests and staff will have their temperatures taken when entering buildings.

It is important to realise that the BHA is providing guidance on a good standard for all hotels; however each hotel brand is likely to have additional requirements that are over and above the guidelines being put in place now.

Having worked hard to contain the coronavirus in Bermuda, we will work equally hard to be the destination of choice for those seeking peace of mind in a safe and relaxing locale.

Finally, talks continue with the airline industry regarding airlift to Bermuda. However, I must re-emphasise that flight schedules are still subject to change. Already, I can say that since last week, American Airlines has decided to reinstate its flight from Miami rather than its flight from New York, as I reported to you just a short time ago! At present, the Miami flight is due to start in September.

The ability to overcome challenges and adapt is something Bermuda is known for and I am certain that we will continue to prove our worth as a top-tier tourism destination.

Thank you.

Thank you Minister.

As we work to revive our tourism economy, it is essential that we support our small and medium sized businesses in Bermuda. This government pledged $12 million to support our businesses through what will be a challenging period. Small- and medium-sized businesses have been assisted by the efforts of Bermuda Economic Development Corporation in the wake of this pandemic. These hard working women and men often devote all their waking hours to making a success of their investment.

Supporting them is supporting our community. I’m pleased to advise that as of today, the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation has approved almost one and a half million dollars for 67 small- and medium-sized businesses. These businesses span the entire island, and our aim continues to be to support them, not just in recovery, but for their intended growth.

A further 81 businesses are at various stages of the approval process, and all told we stand to provide, thus far over $4 million in support of small- and medium-sized businesses in Bermuda. This recovery will be built on the foundation of small and medium sized business who command a loyal customer base, and, to a large extent employ a number of Bermudians. Supporting them is supporting our community. For an update on the other initiatives to support our economy, the Ministry of Finance will now address the country. Minister.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE STATEMENT

Good afternoon,

As Bermuda continues to ease restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, and additional sectors of the economy are opening with Phase 4, I am pleased to provide a further update on the Ministry of Finance COVID-19 – Fiscal Plan.

Today, I will cover four areas: an update on the Unemployment Benefit, Contributory Pensions Temporary Amendment Act 2020, information on the process for taking advantage of the National Pension Scheme suspensions, and payroll tax relief for restaurants and bars.

Unemployment Benefits

The term of the unemployment benefits has been extended for an additional 4 weeks, for a total of 16 weeks.

Last week, the Ministry of Finance authorized unemployment benefit payments to 6,420 people for a total of $5,518,000. We now have paid benefits to over 10,100 for a total cost of approximately $43 million.

We expect further payments to continue on a bi-weekly schedule, which means another payment on Friday, July 10.

As mentioned earlier, we continue to make progress to resolve problem applications, and last week we paid 332 applicants for the first time.

Approximately 4,500 people have notified the Department of Workforce Development that they have returned to work, and they are no longer receiving unemployment benefits. Our expectation is that this number will continue to grow as Bermuda enters its second week of Phase Four and government continues to actively explore and implement actions to get our people back to work.

I want to reiterate that all individuals and companies must notify the Government of your return to work to confirm your eligibility period.

Please visit www.bermudajobboard.com, 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.

For those who have returned to work and have NOT informed us, I want to make one point very clear: if this government determines that individuals and employers are not informing the government in a timely manner of their return to work, causing the government to “overpay” individuals, this government will utilize all of its powers outlined in the Regulations to claw back funds that have been paid to individuals that are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits. As we continue to work together as a community, to restart and rebuild our economy, it should be viewed as unacceptable and irresponsible for individuals that are back to work, and no longer eligible to accept unemployment benefits.

Contributory Pensions Temporary Amendment Act 2020

The Contributory Pensions Temporary Amendment Act 2020 came into force on July 1st. As previously announced this amendment allows for employees, employers, and self-employed persons to suspend payment of their social insurance contributions for the whole of the suspension period (July 1st 2020 – June 30th 2021). Guidelines, FAQs and forms for both employees and employers are located at www.gov.bm.  For any questions please contact the Department of Social Insurance at SIsuspend@gov.bm or call their hotline for any suspension related queries at 444-2470.

The National Pension Scheme (Occupational Pensions) Temporary Amendment Act 2020 also came into force yesterday. This amendment allows for a suspension of employee and employer contributions for a twelve month period commencing 1st July, 2020 and ending on 30th June, 2021.  The process to take advantage of this concession is as follows:

Once the employee and employer agree on the employee suspension, the employer should write to the plan administrator advising them of the suspension of contributions. The employer may agree with the employee suspension, but still wish to make their contributions. They may do so and the employer must advise their plan administrator accordingly. The reporting to the plan administrator is necessary so that the employer is not reported by the administrator to the Pension Commission as being delinquent. An employer’s continued contributions are not treated as voluntary and as such they are not subject to payroll tax.

If the plan is a defined benefit plan, then the employer does not have to receive the agreement of the employee to make the suspension. This is because the employer is financially responsible for making up any pension shortfalls that may result from suspending the contributions.

Latest Refund Statistics.

I can also provide the latest stats for refunds under the NPS:

$12,000 Refunds

Total Applications Received: 6,976

Total Number Approved: 4,382

Total Value of Applications Approved: $49,443,629 25% Refunds Total Applications Received:97 Total Number Approved: 79 Total Value of Applications Approved: $2,482,284 It is pleasing to know the recent hardship withdrawal provisions under the Act has assisted many families over the last few weeks and clearly validates the benefits of this social policy initiative. I can also advised that legislation will be tabled tomorrow which will make additional amendments to the Act and respective regulations to increase the scope of coverage and provide additional access to plan members and former members of defined contribution pension plans as follows:

  • by removing the requirement for a member not to be retired for those seeking a $12,000 refund;
  • by removing the requirement for persons to be retired for those seeking a 25% refund;
  • by removing the requirement for persons to be retired for those seeking a small pensions refund; and

Payroll Tax Relief to Restaurants and Bars On May 21st 2020 Government announced short-term relief from payroll tax to assist the restaurant and bar sector. During the last quarter ending 30th June 2020, payroll tax was set at a zero rate for the restaurant and bar sectors and these businesses ceased deducting payroll tax from employees during this period.  I am pleased to advise that this concession has been extended for the next quarter and the Government is considering extending this concession further to include restaurants within hotels that are operating under the general hotel licensing regime. Thank you.

Thank you, Minister of Finance.

This government is acutely aware that many in Bermuda continue to experience high levels of anxiety and depression. In a few short months our entire way of life has been altered. We have had to adapt quickly to changes brought about as a result of this pandemic, and now have to adjust to a new normal.

All of these changes have taken a physical and emotional toll. If you or a loved one have any of the following psychological or physical symptoms, know that there is help available. Please call the Emotional Wellbeing Hotline: 543 1111.

Here are a few of the psychological symptoms of depression, they include:

  • continuous low mood or sadness;
  • feeling hopeless and helpless;
  • feeling irritable and intolerant of others;
  • having no motivation or interest in things;
  • feeling anxious or feeling worried;

Some physical symptoms of depression include:

  • moving or speaking more slowly than usual;
  • changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased);
  • lack of energy;
  • disturbed sleep – for example, finding it difficult to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning;
  • may withdraw from being around others and socializing; and
  • may have changes in risky behavior such as increased alcohol or substance use.

Again the number to call is 543 1111 and persons are there between 9am and 9pm.

There are many in Bermuda who have contributed to the successes we have had in containing the spread of COVID-19 on our shores. Many individuals, companies and organizations have worked hard and sacrificed to get us to the point, where we are able to open our borders safely and restart our economy. I must thank and highlight the local associations together with local and international companies that donated a total of $2.7m so the Bermuda Hospitals Board could purchase life-saving medical equipment for people who contracted COVID-19 and were hospitalized. Amongst the list of essential equipment is an oxygenator, which is currently en route to island.

On behalf of the government and people of Bermuda, I extend a sincere thank you.

I’ve also been made aware that there is a website which is currently being promoted on Facebook, with a story, and quotes attributed to me. Please note that this website is a fraud. I urge persons do not, under any circumstances send money or information to anyone online. No Government Minister will ever contact you on social media, asking you for money. And this site, which features quotes and has given me a promotion to Prime Minister of Bermuda, they ask people to invest in a bitcoin or some other type thing.

Here’s the truth. If you click on the site, and if you enter your credit card details to make an investment in something that is not being promoted by us, you will likely never see that money again. The Bermuda Police Service has already issued a statement on this particular scam. I did check Facebook earlier today and see that it’s been shared a number of times, it is false, and if you enter your money on that website or enter your credit card information, it is likely that information will be stolen and you will not see your money again.

As we are now fully in Phase 4, this is the last of the twice weekly government press conferences to update the country on COVID-19. We will shift to once a week for press conferences starting next week. And the next time that will be with you in your living rooms will be next week Thursday.

Additionally, the House of Assembly will meet tomorrow to consider a number of pieces of legislation, some which were mentioned by the Minister of Finance. Please tune in to parliament.bm, you can listen on 105.1, or you can also hear the goings on of the House of Assembly on Bernews.com.

As we conclude today’s media briefing, I would like to extend the prayers and best wishes of Bermuda to Private Ndavyah or Davy Williams and his family.  Private Williams is recovering with our prayers, our support and our sincere gratitude for his service.

And before I close I want to thank the ministers who have been with me at all of these press conferences.

It has been an incredible amount of work, so Minister Wilson, I pay special tribute to you and to Minister of National Security Minister Wayne Caines, who, when I said that we were moving to once a week, press conferences, started singing choral music because it has been an incredible toll. But this has been a difficult experience for all of us, but it has been a pleasure making sure that we keep everyone informed. As we move to Phase 4 we are going to adjust to our new normal, but we’re going to make sure that we keep you informed fully on a weekly basis.

Thank you. Happy to take any questions.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

BERMUDA RED CROSS AND  POWER 95FM PRESENTS

Bermuda Summer Camps and After-school Guidance

The Camps and After-school guidance is for Camp Directors, staff and parents. It includes advice on how to make Camps safer, reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 and providing a safer environment for those on site, their families, and the wider Bermuda population. The guidance is informed by our own Ministry of Health and international organizations such as the Centre for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and Public Health England.

Source Bermuda Government Website

 

Guidance for Summer Camps and After School Programmes Designed 200604_1_0

June 29th Press Conference

Bermuda Government COVID-19 June 29th Update

Good afternoon Bermuda.

Today I am joined by the Minister of Health Kim Wilson who will give an update from her Ministry. The Minister of National Security, Min. Wayne Caines, the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Cheryl Peek-Ball and Mr. David Kendell, Director of the Department of Health are all available to answer questions from the media.

Before I begin my substantial remarks, I would like to express condolences from the Government of Bermuda, to the family who lost their loved one on the water this weekend. It’s certainly tragic to lose a life so young, but it is a reminder to all of us that we must make sure that we are taking extra precautions when we are out on the water, as it can be dangerous.

As we head towards sending more of our people back to work and restoring economic opportunities and jobs in the tourism economy, we understand the concerns that many have expressed about the risk that opening our borders may pose.

Like you, we have seen the examples of countries who have not successfully managed the reopening of their economies like Bermuda has been able to do, and are also concerned about potential risks to our loved ones and our community. We have been able to address those concerns through one of the most stringent screening and monitoring processes that will be in place.

It is important to note that this entire process is a change from what normally happens when a visitor comes to Bermuda. Before, they just booked the flight, showed up at the airport with their passports, and boarded the plane.

We have all been affected, or know someone who’s been affected by showing up the airport, and they did not have their ESTA for the US, or their ETA for Canada. Tomorrow at 11am Bermuda will launch its own electronic Travel Authorization form for all travelers to Bermuda, and the Minister of Health will certainly expand on that when she speaks. But, it’s important to note that:

  • A traveler intending to come to Bermuda must complete a Traveler Authorization Form.
  • That form will be vetted and based upon the answers provided the Bermuda Government will indicate whether or not the traveler is cleared to come to Bermuda.
  • A traveler that does not have the clearance will not be boarded and will therefore not come to Bermuda.
  • All visitors coming to Bermuda will be required to be tested when they arrive on day 3, on day 7, and on day 14 of their stay. The number of tests required obviously depends on the length of stay.
  • We will ensure all Customs Officers, airport workers and officials will have on appropriate PPE and there will be physical distancing measures in place including physical barriers.
  • At any point in time any visitor tests positive, they will be fitted with a quarantine monitoring bracelet and will be required to isolate in their room. If they attempt to leave their room, the monitoring device will alert the authorities who will take the necessary steps to protect our community.

With these measures in place, we are confident we can detect early, detect quickly, and contain any positive COVID cases and prevent the spread of this disease in our community.

Let me be clear. There is risk involved. While thousands of Bermudians successfully returned to work, there are thousands more reliant on our tourism economy and want to work, but haven’t been able to do so. While the safety net created by the government through the unemployment benefit, has been extended, the ongoing costs to the public purse is large.

I however, cannot stress enough, this is not about putting profits or the economy over public health. It is about making sure that people in this country do not go hungry, and they have the opportunity to safely get back to work, to provide for their families. I am confident that Bermuda can serve as an example to the world on how to manage this virus, and how to be successful, while allowing persons into your country safely with the right protections in place.

A series of videos will be released this week, as well as a social media and radio campaign further explaining the strong protective measures in place, and how Bermuda’s testing regime and protective measures are some of the strongest in the world.

Now, we’ll hear from the Minister of Health, who will update about the latest test results and also give the expanded version of the traveler entry process and the electronic travel authorization.

THE MINISTER OF HEALTH STATEMENT

Good Afternoon,

Between Sunday and today there were 378 test results received by the Ministry of Health; and none were positive for COVID-19.

Bermuda has 146 total confirmed positive cases. As of today we have only two actives case in Bermuda, of which one is currently hospitalized but not in critical care.

  • A total of 135 have recovered, and
  • the total deceased remains 9.

The news of only two active cases remaining is wonderful news for the country. We can all be very proud of this achievement, as we are on the cusp of being a COVID-free nation.

The average age of all of our confirmed positive cases is 60 and the age range of all of our positive cases is from 18 to 101 years.

Overall, 57% of all cases are Black, 40% are white and 3% are other or unknown.

The source of all local cases is as follows:

  • 42 are Imported
  • 85 are Local transmission, with known contact
  • 15 are Local transmission with an unknown contact, and
  • 4 are under investigation

Bermuda’s country status is “Local Transmission – Sporadic Cases”. The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is below 1.

At Thursday’s press conference, I detailed the process that incoming travellers – residents and visitors –will be required take when entering Bermuda as of July 1st, and in the subsequent days after their arrival. All of this information can be found at coronavirus.gov.bm along with a detailed FAQ document.

Today I want to talk specifically about the Travel Authorization application, which is similar to the process that one would have to go through to apply for an ESTA when entering the United States, for example.

I want to be clear that both visitors and residents entering Bermuda from abroad must apply for this Travel Authorization prior to travel, which will be available on the government website coronavirus.gov.bm (travel page) from tomorrow. There will be an online application form for returning residents and arriving visitors.

This Travel Authorization helps us ensure that our strict testing regime and health protocols are adhered to by travelers, in order to keep our island safe.

The application will require travelers to confirm that they have negative COVID test results, and to answer questions about their health like whether they have any COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms .

A one-time fee of $75 is required when applying for the Travel Authorization and includes all COVID-19 tests required within the stipulated 14 day period.

In order to enter Bermuda, visitors will be asked to confirm that they are travelling with health insurance that covers illness and injury outside of their home jurisdiction, including those related to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis while in Bermuda. If they are not travelling with insurance, they must tick the box that states that they understand they will be responsible for the all health and accommodation costs should they require treatment and/or quarantine, whether related to COVID-19 or otherwise.

Once a traveller completes the online form, they will receive an email advising whether it has been approved. If approved, the Travel Authorization must be shown at the departure gate; either a printed version or directly from your mobile device. Travellers will not be permitted to board without proof of their Travel Authorization.

The Travel Authorization is only needed when coming into Bermuda. It is not required when leaving. Persons travelling outbound to other countries should research what is required of them by the jurisdiction they are going to; the Government of Bermuda has no control over what other countries require for entry and/or free movement around their country.

In closing, I want to urge residents to please…not let your guard down when you are out and about.

Please continue to wash your hands frequently, use hand sanitizer before and after entering any store or public building, shield our medically vulnerable, and continue to wear your mask and keep six feet apart if you are not wearing one.

We are each responsible for our own health as well as the health of our community.

…And with more freedom, comes more responsibility.

Thank You.

Thank you Minister of Health, and that’s certainly good news that we’ve gone ten days without any new cases, and we’re down to only two active cases.

As most would be aware, the state of emergency, that has been in place for Bermuda, since the 1 April, comes to an end tomorrow. Phase 4 of our reopening plan starts on 1 July. One of the changes to Phase 4, and the announcement which was made by Colonel Burch will be that, following a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on the reopening of Bermuda today, and following reports that came back to the Cabinet Committee from Bermuda’s grocers, the Cabinet Committee advised that grocery shopping days will end with a start of Phase 4 on 1 July. So, come Wednesday, persons will be permitted under law to attend grocery stores on any given day.

The question is, why did this change take so long? The fact that we wanted to ensure that where we had the number of discount days which we had asked for from the major grocers to be on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and we wanted to see if the grocers would extend those discounts days. Unfortunately, all but one grocer did not take up the offer to extend those discount days. So, tonight I want to give a special thanks to the Lindo’s Group of Companies, who has said that they will continue in the interest of our community. The discount days will be on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays at the Lindo’s stores, through the Cup Match holiday.

And they wanted to say that in doing so, customers may shop at Lindo’s during those days, and receive their discounts. They will look to go to their normal scheduled discounts for Tuesdays for seniors and Wednesdays for everyone else, after the Cup Match holiday. I want to say thank you to Lindo’s stores for working with the Government of Bermuda to try to make sure to reduce congestion, by providing discount days on multiple days.

The necessity to safely reopen the airport and restart our tourism season was underscored by an email I received earlier today. The sender asked me to issue another plea to landlords to be lenient with tenants who, through no fault of their own, have been out of work since the start of the pandemic and unable to pay their rent.

I am encouraging landlords to assist tenants experiencing financial hardship as a result of this pandemic. We ask that landlords consider realistically assessing their own financial situation, and obligations as to how you may be able to assist your tenant. Making sure that you speak with each tenant individually, if you’re renting to more than one tenant, to assess each tenant’s situation on a case by case basis.

Make sure that you’re taking into account the current ability of a tenant to pay and the history of the tenant’s payment record. Landlords are also requested to have compassion for tenants.

We encourage tenants who have the ability to pay their rent to do so in accordance with their current rental agreements If it comes time to go before the courts, and it is shown that you have had income and were able to pay your rent, then I’m quite certain that the courts will look at your situation in a less favorable perspective.

Changes to a lease must be documented and acknowledged by both parties on the agreement reached, including whether any reduction in rent is temporary, or if the rent reduction is to be deferred to a later time, when the tenant may have more of an ability to pay. In addition, any agreement reached to amend payment terms should be reviewed on a monthly basis, valid for up to 90 days.

Of course, the government website coronavirus.gov.bm has a COVID-19 rent relief form, which is there, which can assist landlords and tenants in working through these issues. This government recognizes that there are difficulties for tenants to pay their rent, whether they are at a residential or commercial property, and I want to say that this is the time for all of us in Bermuda to be understanding, supportive, and compassionate, where we are able to do so.

Another matter, regarding Phase 4 is an issue that a lot of persons have questioned – why the curfew has been kept in place. While we are consistently monitoring the situation, and having discussed this, it was determined that with reopening of bars and nightclubs at the commencement of Phase 4, it would possibly be dangerous to open up not only bars and nightclubs, but to remove the curfew at the same time.

No one has to look further than the United States of America, which has seen cases and instances where the rise and spread of the virus has been tied to bars being open and we’ve seen a number of states start to roll back those restrictions. So we’ve always done these things in a phased approach, the phased approach has worked very well for Bermuda, and we want to continue this phased approach. So, we will see how it works for one week, and as was said on Thursday, the curfew will be reviewed on a weekly basis.

It is also important that I remind everyone that wearing your mask is essential. I’ve been given multiple versions of conspiracy theories that have been shared with my by persons on social media or WhatsApp. I’ve read the cases of people around the world who are refusing to wear masks.

Bermuda, very simple, this is not the time to play around with this situation! We wear masks to contain the spread of virus through droplets when we talk, cough or sneeze.  It is specifically intended to protect the people around us. We have to understand that persons can be asymptomatic spreaders; that means they don’t have a fever, they have no symptoms. However, they may be spreading the virus unknowingly. That is the reason why, especially in cases and instances where social distancing cannot be maintained, persons are required to wear masks.

I wear a mask to protect you. And you were a mask protect me. Beyond the containment measures we placed in the border during the initial stages of this pandemic, it has been the public, embracing and adhering to the wearing of mass and frequent hand washing or hand sanitizing that has kept our communities safe, and our healthcare system from being overwhelmed. It is certainly not the time to slip out of the good habits that we as a country have established. We want to go to a place where we will have a long stretch of time where we do not have cases, where we can even remove more and more restrictions. That is important. Recognize that we are down to just two active cases.

Our collective discipline and collective management of this pandemic has been better than demonstrated in larger jurisdictions. We cannot and will not allow behaviour that jeopardizes the health and safety of the community to occur.  I also remind the public that violations of these rules that are designed to keep our community safe, can always be reported by calling 211.

Before I close and take questions for the media tonight, I would like to share with some persons a note of congratulations, as on Saturday, the Minister for Community Affairs and Sports, the Hon. Lovitta Foggo and I had the opportunity to participate in a drive through celebration of the Trophy Presentation to the BFA League Champions.  I want to recognize them this evening.

  • Premier Division Champs North Village Community Club
  • First Division Co-Champs Devonshire Colts and St. George’s Colts
  • U13 Champions – Next Generation Onions
  • U15 Champions – Warwick Archer Bows
  • U17 Champions – PHC

I congratulate all of you on your successes and like many Bermudians around the island, I look forward to the days when we can all go back to safely enjoying watching a good football game by our island’s top athletes.

With that, I want to remind everyone that Phase 4 comes into place, on Wednesday, and that is not a reason to let our guard down. That is a reason to make sure that we maintain our vigilance. The first flight is expected arrive on island on Thursday, and there will be plenty of protection in place at our airport to ensure that we keep our country safe. Recognize, we have had a good record of keeping the country safe during this pandemic and we have every intention of maintaining that good record, as we continue to work together.

With that, I’m happy to take any questions from members of the media.

 

Premier Responds to Petition

Press Release from Premier David Burt, re Petition

Monday, June 29th, 2020

Premier and Minister of Finance, the Hon. David Burt

In response to a petition requesting the government not allow flights in to Bermuda from the United States, Premier the Hon. David Burt, JP MP, today stated, “The Government is aware of the petition that is circulating and the rightful concerns raised by the organizers and those who are signing it. As a country we have managed the impact of COVID-19 in Bermuda. Our current World Health Organization status is sporadic cases.

“This Government’s goal has always been to contain and minimize the impact of the virus, which we have done. However we can’t let the economic impact on the country be worse than the disease itself. In the last three months, the Government has implemented stringent public health guidelines and taken a phased approach to safely opening our economy. This is the next step in a careful and deliberate process.

“We know public health measures work. Physical distancing, wearing a mask and washing hands frequently together with enhanced sanitization processes work. The other key to our success has been extensive testing. In the last few weeks, we have put in place pop up testing locations so everyone can get tested.”

The Premier continued, “Now it is vital that we open the airport and allow visitors to arrive. This is a critical step required to get hundreds of hospitality workers back to work. Our testing requirements for visitors are the most stringent in the world and are designed to keep our residents and visitors safe. The guidelines we are implementing will be strictly adhered to.

“Visitors are strongly encouraged to get tested three to five days before they come to Bermuda. If their testing results are delayed, they will have the option to come to Bermuda, but they will be tested upon arrival and then tested again on day three of their visit. During those three days, the visitor will be required to quarantine in the room at their accommodation. If the pre-departure test result arrives during the 3-day quarantine it will be counted as a valid pre-departure test and the visitor will be released from quarantine.

“Additionally, all visitors coming to Bermuda who have a negative test result will be required to be tested when they arrive, on day 3, day 7 and day 14 of their stay. The number of tests required obviously depends on the length of stay.

“If at any time their test result is positive they will be fitted with a quarantine bracelet and will be required to isolate in their room. The bracelets will alert the authorities if the person attempts to leave their room.

“All visitors will be required to complete an electronic pre-boarding form before they can board a plane to Bermuda. They cannot have a positive test result and must not be sick or have COVID-19 symptoms. The visitor must demonstrate they have health/medical insurance to cover all medical costs should they get sick while in Bermuda.

“If a visitor becomes ill while in Bermuda, they will be required to isolate for a minimum of 14 days at their own expense or until they can leave the island by private jet or yacht.

“Additionally visitors will be told of the requirement to wear a mask, how to establish physical distancing and the requirement to frequently wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.”

The Premier concluded, “As we move forward, we will continually examine our protocols and adjust them, as needed. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have proven to be nimble in our response. All agencies involved have shared information and worked together closely. This will continue. We will do all in our power to make sure people in Bermuda remain safe.

“If breaches are observed, members of the public can dial 211 to file a report with the Bermuda Police Service who will investigate immediately.

“We have developed a good record and strong reputation for our handling of the crisis. This will continue.”

COVID-19 Reopening Indicators

COVID-19 Reopening Indicators

Bermuda is monitoring critical indicators to see how we are doing in managing COVID-19 and assess our readiness to move to the next phase of our reopening plan. These indicators are updated on Mondays and Thursday.

As of 25th June 2020:

 

Definitions

 

             Lead measures:

1. Face mask wearing: HealthIQ Reports on observation of mask wearing –

  • >95% report public wearing masks
  • <80% report public wearing masks

2. Physical distancing: HealthIQ Reports on observation of 3 – 6ft physical distancing –

  • >95% report public maintaining distance
  • <80% report public maintaining distance

3. Adoption of Technology: Number of people participating in HealthIQ or Apps (public) –

  • >10,000 unique respondents (All time)
  • <5,000 unique respondents

4. Testing capacity: In stock of all lab consumables, reagents and kits plus enabling resources: staff & PPE

  • >3 months’ supply
  • <1 months’ supply

5. PPE supplies (critical): In stock of: surgical mask, N95 mask, gloves, gowns and face shields

  • >5 months’ supply
  • >3 months’ supply
             Lag measures:

6. Classification: WHO Country classification

  • Green: Sporadic cases
  • Amber: Local transmission
  • Red:Community transmission

7. Transmission: Proportion of cases able to be linked to known cases or clusters

  • <10% unknown transmission
  • >20% unknown transmission

8. Reproduction rate: Real time reproduction number average over last 7 days

  • Rt <1.0
  • Rt >1.4

9. Hospitalizations: New COVID-related hospitalizations

  • <7 over last 7 days
  • >21 over last 7 days

10. Critical care: COVID-related ICU cases

  • <4 concurrent per week
  • >7 concurrent per week

11. COVID-19 cases: Number of new cases per week

  • <12 over last 7 days
  • >35 over last 7 days

June 25th COVID-19 Press Conference

Bermuda Government COVID-19 June 25th Update

 

 

Good afternoon Bermuda and thank you for joining us.

As a country, we have made excellent progress and Bermuda is being recognized for our collective progress in successfully navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.  From an overwhelming majority of us working together, and following the public health advice, we remain on pace to enter Phase 4 of the country’s reopening when the State of Emergency expires on Wednesday 1 July 2020.

Today, I’m joined by the Minister of Health Kim Wilson, the Minister for Public Works Lt. Col. David Burch, Minister for Tourism and Transport, Zane De Silva and the Minister for National Security, Min. Wayne Caines.

The focus of today’s briefing will be on outlining measures as we move into Phase 4, Our New Normal. There has been a lot of work getting us to this point, and before the Minister of Health gives her update from her ministry, I would like to pay tribute to all of our public officers, healthcare workers, volunteers, essential services workers, and all of you for doing your part to get us to where we are today. Thank you.

Minster Wilson who will give an update from the Ministry of Health.

MINISTER WILSON STATEMENT

Good Afternoon,

Today there were 220 test results received by the Ministry of Health; and none were positive for COVID-19.

Bermuda has 146 total confirmed positive cases. Their status is as follows:

  • there are now just 4 active cases, of which
  • 3 are under active public health monitoring, and
  • 1 is hospitalized;
  • none is in critical care.
  • A total of 133 have recovered, and
  • the total deceased remains 9.

The average age of all of our confirmed positive cases is 60 and the age range of all of our positive cases is from 18 to 101 years.

Overall, 57% of all cases are Black, 40% are white and 3% are other or unknown.

The source of all local cases is as follows:

  • 42 are Imported
  • 85 are Local transmission, with known contact
  • 13 are Local transmission with an unknown contact, and
  • 6 are under investigation

So far Bermuda has conducted 10,634 COVID-19 tests and over 98% have been negative. This is really good news for us…and is reflective of our adherence to the rules when it comes to preventive measures such as mask-wearing, physical distancing, staying home when sick, avoiding large gatherings, limiting our social interactions and shielding our vulnerable…None of which should be abandoned as we prepare to enter Phase 4 next week.

On that last point, I just want to say that continuing to shield persons who are clinically extremely vulnerable and very elderly persons will be more important than ever as we enter Phase 4.

Such individuals must be shielded not just from the public but also from household members who go out into the public.

For instance, if you are a family member who is the caregiver of a vulnerable person, you must take strict precautions when providing hands-on care to the shielded person if you go out to do the shopping, errands etc. You should wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart from the shielded individual where possible.

And if you must do hands-on care, please review the guidance for care-givers outlining the precautions you must take which can be found at coronavirus.gov.bm.

The specific shielding measures that vulnerable individuals should follow can also be found there and include avoiding close face-to-face contact with others, avoiding contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus and not attending any gatherings.

I want to be clear: Moving to Phase 4 does not mean everything is ‘okay’. We are reopening for the sake of our mental well-being and our economic survival… we are NOT reopening because there is no longer any threat from COVID-19.

We are able to reopen because we have done so well as a community in containing COVID that we have proven that we have the ability to practice responsible preventive measures.

So please use caution over these next few weeks…And if you are in any doubt over whether you should or should not do something, just don’t do it. You can always call the COVID-19 hotline at 444-2498 for advice.

As of July 1st, Government no longer requires incoming travellers to self-quarantine for 14-days. We will, however, require pre-boarding testing, testing on arrival and intermittent testing during stay, with public health measures – which the Premier has already mentioned. I will now detail some of the specifics around the testing of incoming travelers…

Before leaving their place of origin, travelers should pack a thermometer so they can self-monitor per public health supervision once they arrive.

Visitors must show proof of a negative PCR COVID result from a sample obtained ideally within 72 hours of travel in order to board (up to 5 days is acceptable). This can be a written lab result from verifiable lab or physician.  Negative tests should be verified through an online “Travel Authorization” process that will go live next week.

Residents and Visitors unable to have access to a pre-departure test can test on arrival, quarantine for 3 days, and then test on day 3 to allow equivalence with the 72 hour ‘pre-boarding clearance’.

Visitors and Residents must all be tested on arrival (at the airport) and quarantine at their accommodation until a negative RT-PCR result is received.

A nasopharyngeal test is required for adults. Children aged 10-17 will likely be able to take a saliva test. Children under 10 will not be tested.

Test results are expected in within 8 – 24 hours (depending on arrival time). If a negative result is obtained, those with ‘pre-boarding clearance’ may circulate freely amongst the community.

Travellers, like residents, will be required to wear masks in all public places and follow physical distancing guidelines.

All Visitors and returning residents will be under public health supervision during the first 14 days of their stay, and will have to complete a very short online health self-report daily, including temperature.

A COVID test will be required on set days and their health status must be reported to public health officer. These set days are day 3, 7 and 14.

Travelers will be mandated to be accessible by phone, email, text and a physical address in order to communicate with a Health Officer.

A traveller will only be fully cleared after receiving a ‘day-14 negative test’.

If a traveller becomes COVID positive, or symptomatic, or is a close contact of a positive person, they will be quarantined or isolated, as appropriate. Any traveller who does not wish to be subjected to the required testing will have to quarantine for 14 days AND either (a) have the day-14 clearance test, OR (b) quarantine for a further 14 days with no clearance test.

As closing, I want to remind the public of the COVID-19 pop-up testing taking place around the island this weekend:

On Friday June 26, testing will take place from 9am until 1pm at the Hamilton Cathedral and at the Somerset MarketPlace from 3pm until 7pm.

On Saturday June 27 testing will be held at the Southside testing facility (at the old White’s Supermarket) from 9am until 1pm.

Then on Sunday June 28 testing will be held at the Modern Mart from 12pm until 5pm and also at the Southside testing facility from 9am until 1pm.

In order to ensure that wait times at pop-up testing venues are as minimal as possible, I would encourage residents wishing to get tested, to please ideally book an appointment. This makes it a faster, more convenient experience for you.

You can book online via the government website coronavirus.gov.bm or call the COVID-19 hotline 444-2498 between 9am and 9pm to make a reservation. A full schedule of testing days and times has been posted to the Government website.  For more information about pop-up testing, you can call 444-2498.

Thank You, Bermuda, and, please, wear your mask and keep six feet apart if you are not wearing one.

Thank you very much Minister of Health. That is a great news to know that we had so many test results back today, and none of them were positive. Your team continues to do great work in the community. I want to thank and pay tribute to the entire staff at the Ministry of Health.

Now we will have an update from Minister Burch, who is the chair of the Cabinet Committee for reopening of the economy on the details surrounding the start of Phase 4, Our New Normal, on 1 July.

MINISTER BURCH STATEMENT

Good evening.

You may will from Monday’s press conference that the Cabinet Subcommittee on the Strategic Reopening of Bermuda was to present to Cabinet on Tuesday last recommendations for the Traveller Entry Policy to be applied on the resumption of scheduled commercial flights into Bermuda (that will be covered by Minister DeSilva) and the recommended matters for Phase 4 of the reopening of Bermuda.

I wish to remind that Phase 4 will commence next Wednesday July 1st at 6 am – so we are still in Phase 3b until then but we are providing advance notice so that affected parties can plan ahead.

Phase 4 will consist of the following:

  1. The State of Emergency will end on the 30th June
  2. Permitted gatherings will increase to a maximum of 50 persons
  3. Requests for larger gatherings must apply to the Minister of National Security for permission with a plan to include social distancing and masks.
  4. Masks must be worn indoors.   Masks must be worn outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  5. Recreational scuba diving will permitted
  6. Subject to public health guidelines nightclubs and bars will reopen
  7. Holy Communion will be permitted
  8. Temperature taking as a precondition for entry into government buildings will end, however, masks and hand sanitizing is still required.
  9. The government quarantine site will close on June 30th

Since we have started a trend of having sub phases – we have two items that will likely form a Phase 4b – they are:

Subject to successful discussions with grocery stores to retain two or     three discount days, alphabetized shopping will end

The curfew will shift to 12 midnight in the evenings to 5am in the morning and will be reviewed weekly.

While we as a country have made enormous progress – the Committee is mindful of mitigating the risk and recognize that we still have to be cautious and follow the Health protocols that have gotten us to this point.

Thank you, Premier.

Thank you Col. Burch for that update.

With the hospitality industry hardest hit by the shutdown, Phase 4 will provide hope to our hospitality workers and industry that there will be some activity in 2020. Tourism is vital to our economy given the employment that it provides.

Minister DeSilva will now detail the extensive and rigorous protective measures that we are confident will keep Bermuda and our visitors safe.

MINISTER DESILVA STATEMENT

Good afternoon,

I know many Bermudians are keen to stretch their legs beyond our shores, just as many who have been stranded abroad are anxious to return.

I am pleased that the Ministry of Health and my Ministry have been able to work together to produce a set of travellers’ guidelines which keep our visitors and residents safe.

After all, our island home is a precious resource, and we need to ensure our community is protected as we look forward to welcoming residents home and inviting visitors to experience our jewel in the Atlantic. 2

When regularly scheduled commercial flights resume in July, we anticipate Air Canada, Delta Air Lines and British Airways to service the island.

These schedules are always subject to change but, at present, the flights are as follows:

  • From Thursday, 2 July, Air Canada will fly weekly from Toronto,
  • Starting Monday, 6 July, Delta will fly daily from Atlanta, and,
  • Beginning Friday, 17 July, British Airways will fly twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays.

Delta’s flights from New York and Boston are on hold. JetBlue anticipates providing service from those two cities starting in August, while American Airlines will fly from New York.

The other air service that we believe will start in August is WestJet, also from Toronto.

Flights from Philadelphia and Miami on American will not begin before December.

What we refer to as ‘seasonal’ flights from Newark, Washington DC and Charlotte are cancelled for 2020.

Where does this leave us?

The percentage change in our air capacity, i.e. available seats, year over year is as follows: 3

  • When we restricted entry only to Bermuda residents in March, that led to a 45.6% reduction in air capacity,
  • In April, May and June, we experienced a 100% reduction in air capacity as no commercial flights landed, and,
  • For July through to December we anticipate a reduction in seats available of between 91.9% (in July) and 26% (in December).

On average, as a result of the pandemic, Bermuda will experience a 61.7% reduction in air capacity in 2020, when compared with 2019.

What does that look like in numbers?

In 2019 our air capacity amounted to 579,720 seats and the 2020 projection was 543,325 seats. Now, we project a total for 2020 of 221,940 available seats. That is 357,780 fewer seats for travelers than last year.

I must emphasise these schedules change regularly – weekly, even! So, we will continue to monitor seat availability as and when schedules adjust.

Working with the Bermuda Tourism Authority, Bermuda Airport Authority and Skyport, the Ministry of Tourism and Transport will seek to increase air capacity and encourage visitation as it is prudent to do so. Our economy depends on it.

As I stated at the beginning, the Bermuda Government has placed great emphasis on community safety and creating an island space where visitors will be able to relax. 4

We must all do our part to ensure that, as we progress into Phase 4, we continue to embrace all the health measures that benefit us all: keep your distance and wear your mask!

Thank you.

Thank you, Minister De Silva

As we make decisions like the reopening LF Wade International Airport, the public should know that safety is first and foremost in our minds.

The high degree of screening and the protective measures we have identified are not just about keeping you safe, but were also shaped with the understanding that we have skin in the game as well.  Getting this wrong puts the entire country at risk. That is the reason why we are making sure that we get this right the first time.

There are many who believe we should keep our borders closed. I understand the fears that persons may have as they see the news how some countries have not managed to handle their outbreaks. What is important to know is that Bermuda is as safe as we are, due to the wide scale testing, and we will ensure that is applied to our visitors who will be required to be tested as well. Prior to departure, upon departure, during their time here on island.

Bermuda’s regime will likely be the strictest in the world, but visitors want a safe place to visit, and that is what Bermuda will be – that safe place.

I now invite Minister Wayne Caines, to give an update on the Ministry of National Security’s plans as we move into Phase 4, Our New Normal.  Minister Caines.

MINISTER CAINES’ STATEMENT

Good evening Bermuda:

First allow me to extend my thanks and appreciation to all of our essential workers, the Disaster Risk Reduction Mitigation Team and all of the Ministry of National Security’s uniformed personnel who braved the frontlines during the last 4 months of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that the people of this Country were kept safe.

You are a huge reason why we are on track to move into Phase 4 in a relatively good state.

We all owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude for your service and your commitment to Bermuda and its people.

Bermuda, as we move into Phase 4 next week, here are a few key points for the community to be aware of.

We recognize that our beaches, parks and surrounding waters will continue to see increased usage as the summer progresses.

And as we navigate towards the lifting of the State of Emergency on June 30th, it’s critical that we remain vigilant as a community by following the safety guidelines in place by the Ministry of Health.

Next week, Phase 4 will allow gatherings of up to 50 persons. And we recognise that there are some members of the public who will wish to host events or gatherings of more than 50 persons.

However I must caution – any event or gathering of more than 50 people, must have the permission of the Minister of National Security.

In that regard an application must be made seeking approval.

To assist the public, a planning guide for any gatherings of over 50 people will be available on the Government website.

However, the general process once application is made is as follows:

  • Event organisers, this includes planners and promoters for larger functions such as concerts – will have to submit an event safety plan taking the guidance into consideration when planning their event.
  • A form will be made available on www.gov.bm for persons to apply for permission to hold an event for more than 50 persons. Guidance surrounding this will be on the form.
  • The Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation Team will review the applications with the Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies.
  • If permitted, the DRRM Team will issue an approval letter outlining the health and safety conditions for hosting the event.
  • A copy of all approval letters will be sent to the Bermuda Police Service.
  • To ensure that we provide the clearest possible advice to potential event planners and promoters for large scale events, the Ministry of National Security will host a meeting at a date and location to be announced in due course.
  • Anyone wishing to attend this meeting should email: emogroup@gov.bm and include in the subject line – Promoters / Event Planners Meeting.

Turning to the Bermuda Police Service, Royal Bermuda Regiment and the Coast Guard:  

  • The BPS and Regiment continue to work in partnership to ensure adherence to COVID regulations.
  • On land compliance is positive however there were 19 curfew breaches on the water last weekend with boaters ignoring the 10pm curfew and having to be directed to shore.
  • Law enforcement action will now be taken to those that fail to comply with the marine curfew.
  • The BPS will place additional resources this weekend at locations where disorder has taken place previously.
  • The BPS continue to investigate the recent incidents of serious violence, including the murder of 22-year-old Joshua Rowse. Four parties believed to be involved were arrested and are now on bail. Enquiries continue into the case and the BPS continues to support the family of Mr. Rowse

It is now believed all recent incidents, including the murder of Joshua Rowse and the attack on the female with a machete, are connected.

Further parties have been arrested and enquiries continue. The BPS thanks the community for the information they have provided to assist the investigation. Targeted patrols have been placed in the area of Warwick to reassure the public and respond quickly to incidents. Intelligence is being used to deter and prevent further gang retaliation.

Also this past weekend there were reports of a disturbance at Chaplin Bay involving fighting with helmets and knives. On arrival of BPS the group had dispersed. One male attended KEMH with a stab wound to arm and was arrested. Enquiries are ongoing.

The BPS also continue their search for Chavelle Dillon Burgess alongside ongoing enquiries in regards to the arrest of a 39-year-old male.

As a reminder, there is a $50,000 reward being offered for any person who can assist the BPS in locating Chavelle.

Regarding the RBR, over the nearly four month embodiment period, our soldiers have provided and maintained an invaluable service.

Over the next few days, the Coast Guard will continue to enforce Bermuda’s maritime laws and the COVID regulations. Again as is my familiar refrain – raft ups are still prohibited and the limit is 20 persons for recreational boats. All commercial boats are allowed as many persons as the license allows, as long as they maintain appropriate physical distancing.

I want to remind that this weekend we are still in Phase 3, so though we are announcing Phase 4 plans, it’s important to note that the new guidelines for Phase 4 do not go into effect until next week Wednesday. Existing rules for Phase 3 remain in effect for this weekend. And we will be enforcing the guidelines this weekend.

As I close, I wish to share some key Coast Guard summary points:

  • There were 84 days of continual operations.
  • We had 7 Coast Guard vessels in use.
  • There were 343 Operations conducted from Watford House.
  • There were an average of four, 4 hour patrols per day.
  • There were 4,206 instances of engagement with water craft.
  • The Coast Guard issued 173 warnings; served 33 summons; assisted with 8 arrests; and issued 38 tickets
  • Conducted 6 Search and Rescues; More than a dozen boat tows; AND
  • Participated in 1 Joint Exercise with the British Royal Navy.

Thank you.

Thank you Minister.

As we have heard, the government is working to make sure our island stays safe as we fully open our economy. I am confident about our ability to move our economy forward as we resume our normal activities.

Those of you who may be hesitant to return to work, to venture out to shops and restaurants, you can do so knowing the precautions you must take personally, while large and small businesses, retail establishments, restaurants and other businesses know what they must do to maintain a safe environment.

During my quarterly meeting with the Chamber of Commerce, I restated my position. Bermuda has faced the COVID-19 crisis head on. Guided by the Ministry of Health, we have put appropriate measures in place to ensure that we can continue to stay healthy as our economy opens fully.

I encourage everyone in Bermuda to follow the guidelines and confidently return to your places of work, engage in leisure activities, visit retail establishments, go to lunch and dinner, buy breakfast, patronize small businesses and even feel free to socialize after work.

Take advantage of the staycation offers available from our hotels, and feel free to make sure you support our local economy. We have supported each other in the last three months. Now is the time to continue to support each other as we move towards Our New Normal.

While we continue to live our lives it is important that we pay close attention to what we have learned over the past few months. As long as Bermuda follows the public health guidelines, and as long as we continue to wear our masks, despite what you may see on YouTube, about the fact it may not be health. It is important to make sure it is done to reduce any possible spread of this virus.

From the start, we have been determined to prevent the economic impact of COVID-19 from being worse than the virus itself.  And it’s critically important that all of us continue to do our part.

As we conclude our briefing today and take questions from the members of the media who are here today, I would like to take a moment to reflect on how far we have come and how much we as a people have overcome.  With no tried and tested global template to follow and no proven pathway to success to emulate, Bermuda has demonstrated creativity, resilience and discipline.

We have truly punched above our weight in terms of the managing a crisis that many larger jurisdictions have mishandled.  Now is not the time to get complacent and now is not the time to sit on our laurels. As we prepare to move into Phase 4 next week, let us continue to do what we have done that has made us successful and together as a country, I am certain we will succeed.

COVID-19 Reopening Indicators

COVID-19 Reopening Indicators

Bermuda is monitoring critical indicators to see how we are doing in managing COVID-19 and assess our readiness to move to the next phase of our reopening plan. These indicators are updated on Mondays and Thursday.

As of 22nd June 2020:

Definitions

 

             Lead measures:

1. Face mask wearing: HealthIQ Reports on observation of mask wearing –

  • >95% report public wearing masks
  • <80% report public wearing masks

2. Physical distancing: HealthIQ Reports on observation of 3 – 6ft physical distancing –

  • >95% report public maintaining distance
  • <80% report public maintaining distance

3. Adoption of Technology: Number of people participating in HealthIQ or Apps (public) –

  • >10,000 unique respondents (All time)
  • <5,000 unique respondents

4. Testing capacity: In stock of all lab consumables, reagents and kits plus enabling resources: staff & PPE

  • >3 months’ supply
  • <1 months’ supply

5. PPE supplies (critical): In stock of: surgical mask, N95 mask, gloves, gowns and face shields

  • >5 months’ supply
  • >3 months’ supply
             Lag measures:

6. Classification: WHO Country classification

  • Green: Sporadic cases
  • Amber: Local transmission
  • Red:Community transmission

7. Transmission: Proportion of cases able to be linked to known cases or clusters

  • <10% unknown transmission
  • >20% unknown transmission

8. Reproduction rate: Real time reproduction number average over last 7 days

  • Rt <1.0
  • Rt >1.4

9. Hospitalizations: New COVID-related hospitalizations

  • <7 over last 7 days
  • >21 over last 7 days

10. Critical care: COVID-related ICU cases

  • <4 concurrent per week
  • >7 concurrent per week

11. COVID-19 cases: Number of new cases per week

  • <12 over last 7 days
  • >35 over last 7 days

COVID-19 Update 24 June

Ministry of Health Press Release

Today there were 41 test results received by the Ministry of Health, and none were positive for COVID-19.

Bermuda continues to have 146 total confirmed positive cases. Their status is as follows:

  • there are 5 active cases, of which
  • 4 persons are under active public health monitoring, and
  • 1 person is hospitalized;
  • none is in critical care;
  • a total of 132 have now recovered, and
  • the total deceased remains 9.

The average age of all of our confirmed positive cases is 60 and the age range of all of our positive cases is from 18 to 101 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:

  • 42 are Imported
  • 85 are Local transmission, with known contact
  • 13 are Local transmission with an unknown contact, and
  • 6 are under investigation

Bermuda’s country status is “Local Transmission – Sporadic Cases”. The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is below 1.