June 18th COVID-19 Update

Bermuda Government COVID-19 Update

Good evening Bermuda.

During today’s briefing, we will have an update from the Minister of Health on COVID-19, the latest test results and other matters from the Ministry of Health.  The Minister of National Security, Min. Wayne Caines is here to answer questions which may come from the media.

Earlier today, a release went out from my office outlining the changes that had been made for Phase 3B. As signaled in Tuesday’s press conference, the release confirmed that additional personal services would be permitted starting today. Our continued testing regime and the low numbers of positive results have provided the opportunity to implement a Phase 3B and reintroduce some personal services.

Facial grooming of beards and eyebrows as well as waxing and massages can now be provided.

Operators are obliged to follow public health guidelines that state the frequency of coronavirus testing that should be followed for the providers of these high risk services. The close contact involved in these services requires greater mitigation of the risk of transmission and service providers must act responsibly and customers must be vigilant for their own safety.

The amended regulations were signed by the Governor earlier today, and are now published online. Other changes include permitting additional capacity for charter vessels, based on the size of the boat, and the adherence to physical distancing rules. Spas are now permitted to open, and the resumption of full personal services also includes therapeutic massage and tattooing.

The high level of compliance we’ve seen from our community is critical to the progress we are making in reopening Bermuda. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of testing for those who wants to continue to offer these services, and the continued use of masks, and all of the physical distancing protocols which are effectively keeping us safe.

Later this evening, the Minister of Public Works, Col Burch, will issue guidelines reminding the public about using public parks and nature reserves while maintaining physical distancing.

As we move about this summer, enjoying Bermuda’s beaches and parks, we must do so with care. We are still in the midst of a pandemic which we have navigated well, so far.  We must always remember the public health and physical distancing guidelines that are in place are there to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. If we do not all collectively do our part, we will go backwards.

It is a good thing to be in Phase 3B, as you can see I look a little bit different than I’ve looked for the past three months, and I’m grateful for the work that the Minister of Health has been doing and getting the pop up testing working around the island, so many of our service providers were able to be tested over the past week.

Now, the Minister of Health will give us the latest update from our ministry. Minister.

MINISTER OF HEALTH READS STATEMENT

Today there were 123 test results received by the Ministry of Health; and none were positive for COVID-19.

Bermuda continues to have 144 total confirmed positive cases. Their status is as follows:

  • there are 7 active cases, of which
  • all are under active public health monitoring, and
  • none are hospitalized or in critical care.
  • A total of 128 have 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.

Overall, 56% of all cases are Black, 41% are white and 3% are other or unknown.

The source of all local cases is as follows:

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

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

Our reopening scorecard is updated today, and we are extremely pleased that HealthIQ now has over 7,700 users, which is excellent progress. Please register so we can get to 10,000 and get a green light on this indicator. If you have already signed up, please encourage your friends and contacts to join too.

On the down side, I have to highlight that mask wearing and physical distancing have deteriorated. The Bermuda Health Council is working with HealthIQ to monitor reports and we can see that while overall mask wearing has increased, over the past week it has definitely deteriorated. We need to get better and more consistent about this.

With respect to physical distancing, the reports show that our collective behaviour is deteriorating, and we are not even hitting 75% compliance, which is too low to get us to a green light on this indicator.

Physical distancing is extremely important. If you are not wearing a mask stay 6 feet apart. If you have to be closer than 6 feet wear a mask and try to stay at least 3 feet apart.

We can also see from HealthIQ that a higher number of persons are reporting potential symptoms. I’m very encouraged that people are availing themselves of our testing capability through the pop-ups, the drive-through and the mobile testing. This gives us assurance that we don’t have persons unknowingly spreading COVID in the community.

As we enter the new phases of re-opening during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our private healthcare colleagues (GPs, dentists, hygienists, dental assistants and nurses) will no longer be available to volunteer alongside the Department of Health as they have been over the past few months.
Without them volunteering their time and services, the Department of Health would not have been able to cover the ground that we did, and in such a short space of time. For this, we are eternally grateful. Therefore I would like to acknowledge them today for their willingness to serve our community without compensation. This was a huge task and their contribution was very much appreciated.

I’d like to call out by name the following individuals (alphabetically):

  • Dr. Chris Allington
  • Dr. Kyjuan Brown
  • Dr. Gordon Campbell
  • Dr. Helen Christopher
  • Dr. Richard Fulton
  • Dr. David Galloway
  • Dr. Stanley James
  • Dr. Shaina Kelly
  • Ms Catherine Kempe
  • Dr. Stephen Kenny
  • Dr. Ben Lau
  • Dr. Christine McFeely
  • Dr. Laura Murphy
  • Dr. Amne Osseyran
  • Dr. Hamish Reid
  • Dr. Constance Richards
  • Dr. Fiona Ross
  • Dr. Joanna Sherratt-Wyer
  • Dr. Danielle Simons
  • Dr. Nicola Terceira
  • Dr. Wilbert Warner
  • and Dr. Len Wedlich

I would like us all to raise a banner of thanks to these generous and caring professionals.   Thank you, truly, for all that you have done.

I now want to draw your attention to some of our Phase 3 Guidance and Directions which have been recently created and posted to the Government website: coronavirus.gov.bm.

In particular, I want to go over some of the points from the Directions for Gyms, Exercise Facilities, Health Clubs and Dance Studios; namely the information for patrons.

As a patron, specific instructions should be given to you before you even enter the facility so you’re aware of its expectations and requirements.

It’s highly likely that you will have to pre-book visits and that these are time-limited. You may be asked to sign a declaration saying that you have read and understood their obligations.

You should be screened for illness prior to entry. This may include temperature checks and questions about your health.

It should be noted that even with physical distancing, during exercise droplets containing COVID-19 may travel longer distances and a gym workout is a high risk activity. Therefore all patrons must ensure they maintain 6 feet (2 metres) distance between themselves.

Masks should not be worn during gym activities of high exertion. However, for lower intensity activities, patrons may wear a mask as long as it can be tolerated. If a patron is struggling to breathe, feeling faint or dizzy or experiencing chest pain or other discomfort they should remove the mask.

As a reminder children younger than 2-years-old must not wear masks at all.

Gym patrons must always wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or use hand sanitizer) on entering the building, at regular intervals and after using equipment.

If it is necessary to cough or sneeze, you should to do this into a clean tissue which is safely discarded, or into your elbow.

Please note that personal towels should not be used to wipe equipment – single-use paper towels or wipes should be provided to you by the gym, which can then be properly disposed.

There will be limitations on Group Classes. Group exercise classes should be conducted outdoors, limited, or canceled to the greatest extent possible.

In the event group exercise classes are held, such classes may only take place if they can be completed in accordance with the following:

· More than 6 feet (2 metres) of distance maintained between participants at all times;

· no shared equipment during the class, unless sanitized between users;

· and sufficiently adjusted class schedules to allow for deep cleaning between classes.

Martial arts and other contact activities should be completed without any person-to-person contact.

Limitations on group sizes should be adhered to (the current maximum is 20 persons). Please do not arrive more than 10 minutes prior to class and no close-contact socializing with your fellow gym-goers. Keep your masks on and 6 feet apart.

Also, sweat-absorbing equipment such as yoga or exercise-mats should not be communal. Customers should bring their own if required for their exercise.

Water fountains (unless hands-free bottle filling) are not allowed; therefore patrons should bring pre-filled drinks/water bottles.

Gyms should consider closing off showers, locker rooms, and lockers (although access to restrooms should be provided).

Clients should come to the facility in their gym or dance clothes and shower at home afterwards. If showers are used, they should be disinfected after each use. If towels are provided, they should be stored in covered sanitized containers, clearly marked: “clean and used” and hot temperatures should be used when laundering these items.

And, finally, gym staff should be encouraged to take the Infection Prevention and Control Training located on the Government website.

I would like to commend those businesses that have had their employees complete the Infection Prevention and Control Training. More than 3,500 individuals have completed the training from a wide cross-section of businesses.

Infection Prevention and Control Training is incredibly important. No matter where you work or which industry you work in, the risk of spreading infections in the workplace is ever-present. It’s important that everyone knows the risks, how to stay safe, and keep themselves and everyone around them healthy.

This online training covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19 and similar type diseases. It takes approximately 50 minutes and is for all employees and management.

I would like to encourage those who have not yet done the training to do so by going to coronavirus.gov.bm and look under the ‘Workplace Guidance’ link.

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

  • Friday – Anglican Cathedral – 9am to 1pm , 3pm – 7pm & Shelly Bay MarketPlace 3pm – 7pm
  • Saturday- Somerset MarketPlace 3pm to 7pm
  • Sunday – Shelly Bay MarketPlace- 12pm – 5pm

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 and one of our helpful telephone operators will be happy to make a reservation for you. 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 Minister.

Today, the substance of my remarks will be in reference to recent demonstrations and calls to embrace the CURB (Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda) Racial Justice Platform and to engage in groundbreaking legal reform to address the imbalances in our criminal justice system.

To those who have been following the words and deeds of the government over the past few years, we have demonstrated in word and deed our commitment to establishing a measure of racial justice in our country.  In fact, it was not so long ago that we were marching alongside so many of you and risking arrest or physical harm alongside many persons, to make Bermuda a better and fairer place.

There are some in Bermuda that needed to see the outpouring of anger over the murder of George Floyd by a policeman. There were some that needed to hear the pain in their black countrymen’s voices as they told their stories; stories of being denied, stories of being disrespected, and stories of being treated less than, in their own country.

The recent demonstrations helped to open many more eyes and revealed to many that sweeping changes is wanted and necessary for us to unite as one people.

I’m grateful to the organizers and promoters the recent demonstrations in Bermuda, and to CURB for the work they have done in many ways to make the objectives and agenda of this government, not only more understandable, but also, while we are working so hard and so long to make the our vision for a better and fairer Bermuda, a reality.

In Opposition, we understood that Bermuda for all its wealth, all its success, and all the achievements made by some, far too many of us were being left out of the Bermuda success story.  We understood that there were two Bermudas separated by opportunity, separated by outcomes and separated by race.

We were elected on a platform based around breaking down the two Bermudas and seeking to write more Bermudians into the Bermuda success story.

As government we have sought to take on the forces that keep wages low, prices high and opportunities restricted. While we have had some success in this area, it is clear that tearing down hundreds of years of systemic racism, privilege and selfishness will not be as fast as we as any of us desire.

As Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without struggle, it never has and it never will.”

My office has reviewed the CURB Racial Justice Platform previously and I am pleased to say that there are many points of agreement, and many points that we have already implemented.

I will review a few of those points:

  • Support for a Truth and Reconciliation Process – This was announced by Minister Lovitta Foggo and continues to be led by Minister Lovitta Foggo, and there is current consultation which is taking place online on forum.gov.bm.
  • Guaranteed College Scholarships – Since taking office we have dramatically increased funding for scholarships and expanded access to scholarships for more Bermudians. Additionally, within our first 100 days we ensured that no Bermudian was denied from accessing Bermuda College, whether that be for Associate’s Degree programmes, Bachelor’s Degree programmes or further training programs, due to a lack of finances, which is certainly required to address inequality in our economy.
  • CURB also called for national healthcare and listeners will recall that last year, Minister of Health, Kim Wilson began a dialogue on reducing the cost of healthcare for Bermuda families. It is our intention to drive down the cost of healthcare, expand access to a wider range of healthcare options for Bermudians, and to create a fairer healthcare system for the better of all.
  • Pensions and the inequality that exists – CURB had previously called for the elimination of the loophole where employers did not have to pay in to the national pension scheme for their expatriate workers which essentially made foreign workers cheaper than Bermudian workers.  We supported this position, included it in our 2017 Platform and recently passed legislation to close that loophole.
  • Public Procurement Policy – early in our administration we launched a new policy when it came to government contracts with a greater emphasis on expanding opportunity to people who have been denied opportunities in the past and making the playing field more level for black, female or persons with disabilities who owned businesses.  Furthermore, the BEDC was tasked with providing guidance to small and medium sized businesses on the process for bidding on government contracts and have hosted a number of seminars for construction companies around this. I can tell you from the Cabinet contracts that have been awarded, we are certainly making progress in this area.
  • Review of the Criminal Justice System – everyone in Bermuda knows the statistics regarding incarceration in Bermuda.  While black Bermudians make up around 60 percent of the population, we comprise over 90% of the people in the country currently behind bars.  And while over the years much has been done by successive administrations starting with the Alternative to Incarceration agenda implemented under Premier Jennifer Smith, much work remains to address this continued imbalance.  Last year, the Attorney-General and Minister for Legal Affairs, Kathy Lynn Simmons, launched the Law Reform Commission and has selected, MP Michael Scott to chair that particular commission, and we are waiting the approval of His Excellency the Governor to proceed.
  • Living Wage – another initiative advocated by CURB that has been advanced. Legislation was passed to establish in law, a living wage in Bermuda, and the new Minister of Labour  is looking to establish the actual living wage rate before the end of this year.
  • Immigration Reform – in 2017 we committed to Comprehensive Immigration Reform and to creating a system that recognizes the small size of Bermuda, the history of immigration policies being weaponized, discrimination against Bermudians in hiring and the need for local and international businesses to be able to acquire the talent they may be unable to find in our workforce.  The bipartisan immigration committee was formed and laws were changed for mixed status families, and most significantly for Bermudians born overseas to Bermudian parents.
  • Workforce Equity – Another thing inside of CURB’s racial justice platform. I’m pleased to report that the Attorney-General is reviewing legislation to enshrine the legality of disparate treatment of different classes of workers in Bermuda.
  • Legalization of Cannabis – The government, in an initiative being spearheaded by the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, is currently engaged in a consultative process surrounding the creation of a regulated cannabis market in Bermuda. Earlier in our term, we decriminalized cannabis possession under 7 grams in an effort to end the unnecessary criminalization of predominantly black Bermudian males and the devastating knock on effect it has on so many, when it comes to future opportunities. The Attorney-General is also developing the legislative agenda, around the expunging of previous convictions for cannabis possession.
  • Another thing called for was a memorial to Mary Prince – In 2019, Minister Lovitta Foggo in her role as Minister for Labour, Community Affairs and Sports, announced plans for a tribute to this iconic Bermudian trailblazer in the struggle against the enslavement of Africans and has already identified a location for a statue in her honour.
  • There was a call for the change to the Emancipation and Mary Prince Day, or what was at that time, Somers Day.  MP Chris Famous began to lobby the government in 2018 to decouple Bermuda’s emancipation celebration from Sir George Somers.  MP Famous reasoned that it was inappropriate for Bermuda to pair the anniversary of ending of slavery with the celebration of a colonizer.  The government found merit in his arguments and changed Bermuda’s laws to make Mary Prince Day a reality. That will happen for the first time this year.

This Government believes that Black Lives Matter and there is much work to be done to break down the two Bermudas to build a better and fairer Bermuda.  What is clear, is that by our record we have demonstrated that it did not take thousands of Bermudians marching in the streets for the matters at the forefront of Bermudian minds today, to become priorities for the government.

We recognize that talk is cheap but actions speak volumes. Today I have outlined area where we are in agreement with CURB and where we have implemented aspects of their social justice platform and are making progress.

Yet more remains to be done on the road to a better and fairer Bermuda, and I am certain that Bermuda can change, and we are committed to changing Bermuda, for the better. And I want to thank all of those who are either taken the streets, or are using their voices because I want you to encourage you to continue to share your stories and speak about these issues because it is the only way that Bermuda will put in the past our very painful, racist history. And I want to thank all those who have been participating thus far.

Tomorrow, in the House of Assembly, we will meet to consider five bills, which will be advanced:

  • The first will be the temporary suspension, for one year, of social insurance payments;
  • The second will be the temporary suspension or one year suspension, of payments into the National Pension Scheme;
  • The third will be Amendments of Public Health Act. These were amendments that will enable us to enact public health measures outside of the declaration of a State of Emergency;
  • There will be further amendments to the Bermuda Bar Act. These are things to make sure that we can have registered associates around the world, which will assist Bermuda in attracting more business to our shores; and
  • Finally, I willl be piloting through the Cost of Living Amendment Act, through the House of Assembly. This particular Act seeks to allow the minister responsible for Consumer Affairs to mandate grocery stores to share pricing of certain goods electronically. So those can be compiled and shared through technological means.

I invite all persons to tune into House of Assembly, whether it be on the website parliament.bm, on the radio on 105.1, or on Bernews.com.

Before I end today’s press conference, I want to say thank you to a few people. A few weeks ago, I challenged the Department of Communications to create COVID-19 messages and videos specifically for children. I am pleased to say that Al Seymour Junior, Programme Manager at CITV, and his daughter Kerri Seymour took up the challenge. Al and Kerri Seymour worked together on the animated cartoon which debuted at the start of today’s press conference and which you will see again immediately afterwards.

The female character Karli was voiced by ten year old Warwick Academy student Khloe Bassett.  Al Seymour voiced the male character, Uncle Kevin.

The project was a combination of traditional hand drawn animation and digital technology. 26 year old Kerri is a graduate of CedarBridge Academy and Humber College, in Toronto.  She graduated Humber College in 2016 with a degree in Applied Arts and has returned to Bermuda after working for a short time in Canada. Kerri also specializes in digital editing and effects as well as graphic design.

Mr. Seymour is no stranger to animation, and has worked on numerous cartoon projects for many years. The script was written by Communications Officer, Helen Zoellner.

My appreciation goes to everyone who worked tirelessly on this outstanding production, as it is important while we go through this pandemic, we are making sure that we have messages for our young people who are similarly suffering the effects which this change in our way of life has caused.

Thank you also to nine year old Kylee Hollis of West Pembroke Primary school who sent in a letter and drawing paying tribute to her parents who are essential workers. The Youth Library will display Kylee and other students’ artwork on their public display board.

I extend thanks also to all of the workers, employers and those on the frontline of COVID-19.  You have continued to serve our country well, and as more and more Bermudians return to work, we are beginning to see that there can be hope in the midst of a global pandemic.

I’m happy now to entertain any questions from members of the media.

eBites On Wearing A Mask

Ministry of Health have released their latest eBites on wearing a mask

 

Infection Prevention and Control Training

 

Infection Prevention and Control Training is incredibly important. No matter where you work or which industry you work in, the risk of spreading infections in the workplace is ever-present. It’s important that everyone knows the risks, how to stay safe, and keep themselves and everyone around them healthy.

Description:

General measures to prevent and control the spread of infection are critical in combating COVID-19 and preventing its spread. An understanding and appreciation of the general principals, as well as the full co-operation and involvement of the entire works team, at all levels, is essential to our success.

Specific Objectives:

This online training covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19 and similar type diseases.

Target audience:

For all employees and management.

Course duration:

Approximately 50 minutes.

Certificate:

No certificate available at this time.

Phase 3B

Phase 3B Reopening of Bermuda from June 19 2020

June 16th Bermuda Government

Bermuda Government COVID-19 Update

Good evening Bermuda.

I’m joined at today’s press conference by the Minister of Health, Kim Wilson, who will give an update on the continued work of the Ministry of Health in battling COVID-19. We also have the Minister of National Security, Wayne Caines, who will discuss the murder and other acts of violence which took place this weekend.

Minister of Finance, Curtis Dickinson will discuss the island’s financial response to COVID-19 and plan for our economy. I also welcome the newly appointed Minister of Labour, Jason Hayward, who will update us on the unemployment insurance benefits, and the work of his newly created Ministry of Labour, ensuring that we protect the rights of Bermudians in the workplace.

This holiday weekend, where we remember the contributions of our national heroes, was a distressing time for many in Bermuda. The actions of few have changed the lives of family and friends who lost a loved one, through the senseless death of a 22 year old Bermudian. On behalf of the government and of the people of Bermuda, I extend our condolences to his family and to his friends.

The Minister of Health will now provide an update on the testing which took place over the weekend against the backdrop of more confirmed cases which reported on Saturday. Minister.

MINISTER OF HEALTH STATEMENT.

Good Afternoon,

Between Sunday and today there were 528 test results received by the Ministry of Health; and none were positive for COVID-19.

Bermuda continues to have 144 total confirmed positive cases. Their status is as follows:

  • there are 7 active cases, of which
  • all are under active public health monitoring, and
  • none are hospitalized or in critical care.
  • A total of 128 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.

Overall, 56% of all cases are Black, 41% are white and 3% are other or unknown.

The source of all local cases is as follows:

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

I can also provide a brief line of update regarding the COVID-19 “saliva tests”: These have now been shipped and should be on-island shortly.

At Thursday’s press conference, I announced that the Ministry of Health has rolled out a pop-up testing programme to make testing more accessible to the public, through pop-up testing sites at various MarketPlace and City Centre locations; with more to be announced over the coming weeks.

We understand the value of taking services to the people, as we have used this approach very successfully with our annual Flu Express and Taking it to the Streets initiatives, which get public health to where the people are.

I can tell you that since launching the pop-up testing, over 500 people have taken advantage of the initiative. I am extremely impressed by the public’s interest in getting tested and hope that enthusiasm continues. Remember – the more we test, the better we will contain and control COVID-19.

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 book an appointment. It can literally take five minutes for two people to get tested if you pre-book.

You can book online via the government website coronavirus.gov.bm or call the COVID-19 hotline 444-2498 between 9am and 9pm and one of our helpful telephone operators will be happy to make a reservation for you. A full schedule of testing days and times has been posted to the Government website.

Other convenient pop-up locations around the island  this week are:

  • Wednesday- Anglican Cathedral – 10am to 2 pm
  • Thursday – Anglican Cathedral – 10am to 2 pm & Heron Bay MarketPlace 2pm – 7pm
  • Friday – Anglican Cathedral – 9am to 1pm , 3pm – 7pm & Shelly Bay MarketPlace 3pm – 7pm
  • Saturday- Somerset MarketPlace 3pm to 7pm
  • Sunday – Shelly Bay MarketPlace- 12pm – 5pm

For more information about pop-up testing, you can call 444-2498.

Also, if you are a large company with over 30 employees, the Ministry of Health can arrange for pop-up testing to come to your workplace. For more information on this call 444-2498.

As we move through Phase 3, I feel I must remind people that this is not the green light to abandon those habits which have stood us in such good stead in the fight against COVID-19 so far – namely, mask-wearing and physical distancing. Over the past few days we have noticed a slip in those good behaviours. This is irresponsible, dangerous and could have the potential to set us back we move towards the safe reopening of Bermuda. We all want to get to Phase 4… and beyond. But this will NOT happen if we see a rise in cases of COVID-19… something which WILL happen if we do not wear our masks and practice physical distancing.

Also, we are encouraging people to log onto HealthIQ.bm to tell us how you’re feeling and what you’re seeing in the community in terms of protective measures being taken. Your information is confidential and will help us greatly as we transition through the phases. Over 7,000 people have registered so far. We need 10,000 to get this reopening indicator to a ‘green light’ on the scoreboard.

Finally, today I want to draw your attention to some of our Phase 3 Guidance which has been recently created and posted to the Government website: coronavirus.gov.bm.

In particular, I want to go over some of the points from the Re-Opening Directions for Movie Theatres, Theatres, Museums, Libraries and Similar Places of Public Entertainment.

These types of establishments should rigorously follow the practices specified in those protocols which include:

  • Utilizing remote ticketing options;
  • Adjusting screening times/opening hours to allow time for enhanced cleaning and disinfection;
  • Warning clients upon booking not to come to the facility if they have any COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Ensuring proper physical distancing to allow 6 feet between patrons in the venue;
  • Ensuring that all employees and customers wear cloth face coverings (exceptions for children under 2);
  • Regularly and frequently cleaning and disinfecting any regularly touched surfaces. This includes disinfecting seats and frequently touched areas and surfaces between screenings, events or groups;
  • Making hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water, or similar disinfectant readily available to employees and customers upon entry and at suitable locations;
  • Placing readily visible signs at the venue to remind everyone of best hygiene practices;
  • Restricting access to restrooms to allow appropriate physical distancing;
  • Keeping at least two empty seats (or six feet separation) between parties in any row. Additionally, there should be alternate rows between customers, so that every other row is left empty. However, two or more members of the same household can sit next to one another, with two seats empty (or six feet separation) on either side. Also, two individuals who are not members of the same household but who are attending together can sit next to one another, with two seats (or six feet separation) empty on either side.

There are also various rules for these types of venues who also provide food service for patrons. These can be also found within this guidance; as can the specific health protocols which should be taken by employees of these establishments.

Lastly, I would like to remind the public that tomorrow, Wednesday 17th June there will be a Facebook Live session with our Chief Medical Officer, Dr Cheryl Peek-Ball, and BHB’s Chief of Medicine, Dr Michael Ashton at 2pm. I invite and encourage everyone to log on to learn more and submit any questions you may have in advance or during the live broadcast via the Government facebook page.

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

Thank you Minister of Health.

The news of no new cases, following days of testing is certainly welcome news. However, it is important and a reminder that we must continue to keep our guard up by wearing our masks, and maintaining our physical distance when out in public and socializing. Everything we have done thus far, must continue. Whether that is washing your hands, good cough hygiene, or the utilization of hand sanitizer. These are all public health measures that will help us continue to keep this virus at bay.

The pop-up testing locations have proven to be extremely popular and I encourage everyone to visit coronavirus.gov.bm to get the details and locations and times, and to book an appointment to get tested today. Even though she’s going to upset with me for saying it, even my mom, went to get tested today, and she commented and said ‘it wasn’t as bad as I thought’, because it is not as bad as you may think.

During phase 3B, which will commence, on Thursday, the full range of personal care services will become available. This includes the grooming of beards, waxing services and massages. As stated last week, public health guidelines will provide for the frequency of tests for personal care service providers, engaged in high risk activities which to date have not been allowed.

For providers of those services, who got tested this weekend, including my barber, I, and other clients look forward to seeing you later this week. Those who have not yet been tested, please visit coronavirus.gov.bm to book an appointment so you can keep yourselves, your clients and Bermuda safe. With that Minister Caines will now give his update this evening to the country. Minister.

MINISTER OF NATIONAL SECURITY STATEMENT

(Awaiting for the statement to be released)

Thank you Minister Caines. We are joined by the Police Commissioner this evening, who is also on hand to answer any questions, which we may have afterwards.

The events this weekend serve to remind us that the work is never ending if we are to address the root causes of the violence and anti-social behaviour in our community. These are systemic issues that require a targeted and deliberate approach.

The government’s increased investments in education, training, mental health, and programmes like Redemption Farms, as well as new programmes for those people who have aged out of the Department of Child and Family Services will be continued. Because it is through these programmes, and our focus on dismantling systemic racism that we will effect the change we need to see in our young people.

As we move through each phase, our goal was to make sure that we open our economy safely, and at the same time put Bermudians back to work. The Minister of Finance, Curtis Dickinson, will give details around the work necessary to support those in Bermuda financially, and also his efforts in reinvigorating the Bermuda economy. Minister Dickinson.

MINISTER OF FINANCE STATEMENT

(Awaiting for the statement to be released)

Thank you Minister of Finance. As you have shared, there’s much work going on to provide relief to Bermudians and to Bermuda’s businesses that are battling the economic impacts of this pandemic.

As I’ve said over the past few weeks, employers who are reopening their businesses must put Bermudians first. Likewise Bermudians who are asked to return to work should do so, and should not be collecting unemployment benefits. It is not appropriate for employers to deny work to Bermudians, and if we learn of instances where Bermudians have refused to return to work in order to continue to receive the unemployment benefit, this behaviour will be addressed appropriately.

I now welcome the Minister of Labour to the podium to provide his first update to the country since his appointment. Minister Hayward.

MINISTER OF LABOUR STATEMENT

Good Evening,

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses across the island were forced to close their doors, since which many businesses have reopened.

As a result of these closures, through the period of Shelter-In-Place, over 9,800 individuals were out of work and many millions of dollars have been paid out in benefits from the unemployment fund.

Although all sectors were hit hard with large numbers of persons unemployed, some sectors were hit particularly hard.  The top five largest job losses during Shelter-In-Place are as follows:

  1. Restaurants with 1815;
  2. Hotels with 1345;
  3. Construction with 1256;
  4. Retail with 991; and
  5. Small business with 921. 

As the economy has slowly reopened, many persons have been reemployed. As of the most recent update, a total of 3,577 individuals have returned to work.

The numbers of reemployed is great news for Bermuda. However, with this good news, the Government has also received reports of inequitable employment practices happening in our country.  From 30 March to 5 June 2020, I can report that the Labour Relations Section has received 409 labour related queries.

In some instances, there are reports that employers may be discriminating against Bermudians.

I can confirm that of the total of these queries received, 14 are related to Work Permit holders being retained or recalled to work over Bermudian workers.

I will break these 14 queries down into further details:

  • Ten were public observations/general queries;
  • One was referred to the Department of Immigration;
  • One was investigated with no further action taken;
  • Two others were received, one of which is currently under investigation.

While we strongly believe the majority of businesses are treating Bermudians fairly, there may be a few employers that will discriminate against Bermudians.  If this practice is occurring, I ask those responsible stop immediately.

As we seek to further open up our economy for business, we urge employers to ensure that Bermudians are given equitable treatment.

It must be noted that employment practices in response to the pandemic have not been uniform across all sectors. For example, it is understood that employees in the International Business sector have largely remained employed and continued to work remotely. Other businesses have experienced similar success and we thank them for their efforts to keep their staff employed.

The Premier recently announced that Cabinet agreed to extend the Unemployment Benefit Program for another month to support our people and provide them with an added layer of security, as businesses reopen and our economy begins to move again.

To assist employees which were laid off, terminated, or made redundant as a result of COVID-19, the unemployment benefit was introduced. The unemployment benefit came into effect on the 24th of March 2020 and the application period will end on the 30th of June 2020.

The unemployment benefit provides a weekly benefit of up to $500 to eligible persons, including work permit holders, for up to 12 weeks.

The Government will extend these benefits, but not the application deadline, to allow persons to receive further support while the country moves towards the new normal with the gradual re-opening of the economy during phase 4.

Additionally, following engagement with industry associations, the Government will also table legislation this week to amend the Employment Act 2000.  The legislation will amend the portion of the Act with respect to lay off, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in the state of emergency.

The change will exclude the period from 1 April to 30 June 2020 from the calculation of the period of four months, after which a lay off is deemed to be a termination for redundancy.

The existing provisions of the Employment Act would then apply for severance pay for those employees not recalled at the end of the four-month period starting from 30th of June 2020.

The purpose of this amendment is to protect both employees and employers in these unprecedented times.  In the face of the global pandemic, employees should not lose their benefit entitlement of redundancy pay under the Act.  This must be protected.

On the other hand, employers with little or no cash, and significantly lower revenues due to the pandemic, should not be forced into bankruptcy by paying these benefits.  A compromise must be reached.

This moves represents a balanced approach to provide both groups an opportunity to adapt to the new normal as we go through phase 3 and work toward entering phase 4.

It should be noted that the concerns of the Bermuda Hotel Association have not been ignored and the Government will be working with industry partners to find a solution to the specific problems that they are experiencing.

The Government will continue to work together with all stakeholders to allow Bermuda to get through these difficult times together.

Thank you.

Thank you, Minister for that update. It is clear that the work of this government continues through the actions of the Minister of Labour.

As schools around the island prepare to close, summer day camps will be opening. The Minister of Community Affairs and Sports, the Hon. Lovitta Foggo, last week, announced the opening of government camp registration. However, within a few hours, the spaces were all taken and a waiting list established. This has caused anxiety amongst parents who are looking for safe summer activities for their children.

The Ministry is looking closely at how we can accommodate more students, working with the Ministry of Health. Camps have instituted protocols that are in keeping with the Ministry of Health’s guidance, as well as best practices from leading global health organizations.

There are fewer spaces than normal this year to ensure physical distance requirements are adhered to. However, as has been stated, we are looking to make sure that we can expand these services, as we know, this is something that is desired by a great many parents. Certainly in a time of economic distress, more affordable programmes are needed to make sure that our students can be engaged in enriching activities and also to provide for those college students who may be home and may not have the opportunity to work, due to some cancelled internship opportunities. We believe this is a win-win, and we’re exploring how we can expand those particular services.

As I close, I must thank all those who continue to work on the frontlines of our protection against this pandemic. For those who have worked tirelessly, whether you are public health professionals, a member of one of Bermuda’s testing labs, a medical professional, a technical support member or a member of the public service to ensure that services are made available to the general public. Your selfless contribution is appreciated by a grateful country.

We have come a long way, and we still have a very long way to go. We are a community that must successfully move forward together. And as long as we remain united, I’m confident that we will make it through this pandemic. I now welcome any questions that members the media may have.

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11 June COVID-19 Update

Bermuda Government COVID-19 Update

 

.

Good evening Bermuda

Today I’m joined by the Minister of Health, who has the latest update on test results, and the work within the Ministry of Health, the Minister of National Security who will provide details on the policing plan for the upcoming holiday weekend, and the Minister of Tourism and Transport who will lay out the measures in place to begin commercial flights to Bermuda, when we move to phase four

As a country, we have gone over a week without any new cases of COVID 19. The number of people successfully fighting off and defeating COVID 19 continues to grow, and the number of Bermudians hospitalized as a result of this disease continues to fall.

We have seen more of our friends and neighbors economically displaced by this pandemic returning to work, and more of our businesses adapting, innovating and reopening. We have come far and yet we must never forget the people who have lost their lives, and we must never forget the people who remain out of work.

As a government, we continue to provide a safety net for our unemployed and continue the work which is necessary to ensure that more of our fellow Bermudians can get to a place where they can continue to provide for their families.

Earlier this week, Cabinet agreed to extend the Unemployment Insurance Program to support our people and provide them with an added layer of security, as businesses reopen and our economy begins to move again.

The Minister of Labour, and the Minister of Finance will join us next week to give details about the extension of the benefits and to discuss matters related to the economy and related to labour.

Earlier today, at 6 am, Bermuda moved into Phase 3…moving to normal. Some government workers who have been working from home will physically return to their offices, while some will continue to work from home, while we provide seamless service to the public for all public services.

 Nurseries and Childcare will begin to reopen, subject to public health guidelines

 Our churches and houses of worship will begin to reopen.

 Restaurants will begin to provide indoor dining.

 Cinemas and museums will begin to accept patrons; and

 Gyms will reopen their doors.

 

As stated previously, we remain in a place where masks will still be required, physical distancing will still be needed, and your government will continue to test, to monitor closely and continue to remain proactive in protecting our island.

The world has changed, and as a country, we have successfully adapted to not merely surviving, but to begin seeing a way forward where we can thrive in this new and changed world.

Yesterday, I participated in talks with the CARICOM Heads of Government to discuss the reopening of our respective countries’ borders to visitors.

On an ongoing basis, we have been studying the successful restart strategies of Hong Kong, Australia, St. Lucia, Bahamas, New Zealand, Cyprus and Austria.

We are moving safely and steadily towards getting our country open again and making sure that we can have more economic activity.

Today marks not just the beginning of Phase 3 but will also mark the unveiling of our plan to safely permit visitors to return to our shores at a date that we are tentatively

setting as July 1, when we expect if all continues to go well, that we will move to phase four.

This is a plan that focuses on protecting our workers, and our community, emphasizes testing and screening of potential visitors, and is committed to making sure that Bermudians and visitors alike are kept safe from harm.

The successful implementation of this plan means:

 Hotels can start taking bookings

 our hotel workers will be able to return to work

 our restaurants, taxi drivers and retail stores will be able to have more business and clientele

 Bermuda’s entrepreneurs, workers, and people will begin to see jobs returned, and we will begin to work, and there’ll be more opportunities that we can provide.

 

As managers and business owners start bringing their employees back to work, it is very important that they do not do so at the expense of Bermudian workers. We must continue to give Bermudians the opportunity to earn a wage for their families. It is not acceptable for the reports that I’ve heard that guest workers are returning to work when there are Bermudian workers in the same organization, both of whom had been laid off, where guest workers are returning to work and Bermudians and are not being called back in to work. This is unacceptable, and this behavior is contrary to the spirit of the policy of immigration.

The former Minister responsible for immigration, the Minister of National Security, has previously stated that this practice cannot be allowed. And as I stated earlier, the Minister of Labour will be here next week to specifically lay out the measures that can be taken to addressing ongoing instances of this behavior.

What I will state, however, is if you are an employee, in a case and instance where your employer has left Bermudian redundancies, or on layoff while returning persons

who are work permit holders, or guest workers to work inside the same establishment inside of these particular jobs, please contact the immigration hotline, and that number is 296-5202. Again, that number is 296-5202.

Anyone who has been in the City of Hamilton for the last few days would have seen certain restaurants that have been granted permission to construct outdoor premises for outdoor dining. I have received a number of pieces of commentary surrounding this. The first instance is that the government is going to do whatever we can to ensure that as many persons are able to return back to work. And if that means being flexible, then we are going to be as flexible as possible.

It is important to recognize that we’ve been very flexible in our reopening strategy. And in our flexibility of reopening strategy, we are balancing the need for protecting the health of our country, while also balancing that against the need to reopen our economy. There are however, some persons who have asked why restaurants are allowed to construct outdoor facilities, whereas clubs are not allowed to construct outdoor bar facilities.

There is an actual difference in the way in which these facilities are governed. Clubs and liquor license establishment are regulated under the Liquor Licensing Act. The Liquor Licensing Act has specific restrictions that apply to certain places. What the Attorney General has assured me is that she is looking at revisions which can be made in order to allow for clubs that may have indoor bars services under the Liquor License Act, to be able to possibly provide those services outdoors.

Any of those matters will be part of phase three B, which Col. Burch mentioned on Monday, and which further details will be provided for next week. I recognize the disparity that certain people feel that this is providing to certain businesses, but it is understandably that we have to continue to make sure that we are abiding and enforcing the law.

I have however asked the Attorney General to look into this, as she has responsibility for liquor licensing and she has assured me that she will look to find and provide a solution that we will be able to provide an update for.

What is important, however, is that this government will work with any business who wants to find a way to put people back to work. As long as we are balancing the health of our economy, our health of our country with the economic needs of our country, as well. With that, I will now invite the Minister of Health to give her updates. Minister.

MINISTER WILSON STATEMENT

Today there were 71 test results received by the Ministry of Health; and none were positive for COVID-19, making this the 11th day without any new cases.

Thank you to all who have contributed to this excellent position.

Bermuda continues to have 141 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
  • only 1 person is hospitalized;
  • none are in critical care.
  • A total of 127 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 all deceased cases is 74 and the age range is 57 to 91 years.

Overall, 57% of all cases are Black, 41% are white and 2% are other or unknown.

The source of all local cases is as follows:

  • 41 are Imported
  • 84 are Local transmission, with known contact
  • 11 are Local transmission with an unknown contact, and
  • 5 are under investigation

Today I’m excited to announce a progressive, new initiative with regards to COVID-19 testing in Bermuda. The Ministry of Health has teamed up with the MarketPlace to offer convenient pop-up testing right outside a MarketPlace store near you for the month of June.

The test is safe, quick and convenient. We understand not everyone is able to drive to our SouthSide testing location and we want to ensure that anybody who wants to know their COVID status is able to do so. The grocery stores offer a convenient location for staff, shoppers and for the general public.

It’s important for the public to know that they will not be impacted by the testing stations and are not at risk in any way. Testing will take place in secure areas of the parking lots, not inside the stores.

You can book online via the government website coronavirus.gov.bm or call the COVID-19 hotline 444-2498 between 9am and 9pm and one of our helpful telephone operators will be happy to make a reservation for you… Or, just show up! Drop-ins are welcome!  A full schedule of testing days and times has been posted to the Government website.

I want to thank the MarketPlace for supporting the Government’s efforts in helping us reach our goal of increasing test frequency.

Other convenient pop-up locations around the island will be announced shortly.

For more information about pop-up testing, you can call 444-2498.

Also, a further reminder, if you participated in the Black Lives Matter march at the weekend and were in close contact with someone not wearing mask, you are strongly encouraged to get tested.

Close contact means within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more. Remember, COVID-19 has an incubation period of several days and you may pass on the virus before you experience any symptoms. Also, many persons with the virus are asymptomatic throughout the entirety of the infection.

You should get tested on Friday 12th June – day five after the march – or subsequently, as this will maximize the likelihood of the virus being detected if you are carrying it without symptoms.

Likewise, all persons who, by the nature of their work, spend a lot of time in close contact with others should get tested. This includes workers such as hairdressers, barbers, retail workers and so on. For personal services workers, imagine the assurance you can give your clients if you can show them a certificate showing you were tested and are clear. And this works both ways… imagine the peace of mind you will get if you know your client can show you a negative test results.

The pop-ups around the Island and around the city of Hamilton will make this very easy and convenient for people to get tested.

And, finally, as we head into the weekend, I would like to remind the public that COVID-19 doesn’t take a break on Saturday and Sunday.  We must practice mask wearing and physical distancing even during our weekends in order to stay safe.

We have seen the trend for the last two weekends, in reports to Health IQ, of a reduction in safe physical distancing by our population.

We all need to remember that the move towards fewer cases and re-opening Bermuda will only happen if we continue to do what we need to do – wear our masks properly, keep our distance and wash our hands.

Also, no raft-ups this weekend, please. And just because your boats may be physical distancing… please make sure that swimmers maintain distance too.

There have been too many cases of several boaters getting together, anchoring independently of one another but then swimming to a friend’s boat or to the shore to congregate. This defeats the purpose of the ‘no raft up’ rule. Please try and avoid co-mingling with other households as much as possible. You can enjoy the water and the company of friends 6 feet apart.

Also, we are encouraging people to log onto HealthIQ.bm to tell us how you’re feeling and what you’re seeing in the community in terms of protective measures being taken. Your information will be confidential and will help us greatly as we transition through the phases.

Thank You, Bermuda, and stay safe.

Thank you, Minister of Health. Now we will hear from the Minister of National Security on matters within his Ministry.

MINISTER OF NATIONAL SECURITY STATEMENT

As we approach another holiday weekend, the Bermuda Police Service and the Royal Bermuda Regiment will maintain a regular presence around Bermuda – including on our roads and waters, and at our beaches and parks. Over the three-day weekend the Regiment’s presence will increase, with a focus on popular public spaces in the east, west and central parishes. The Police and Regiment will also have a heightened presence on Bermuda’s roads, covering various checkpoints during the 11.00 pm – 5.00 am curfew hours.

I should note that we are noticing a trend of low arrests rate, with only two (2) this week for night time curfew breaches.

This is indicative of the excellent community engagement and support of the Government’s COVID management plan.

Now that we are in Phase Three, I just wish to reiterate some key guidelines for the community:

  • Phase Three sees the resumption of religious and faith services at institutions of worship.
  • Our churches are open, but as with everything that we do now, the capacity of any service must ensure that appropriate physical distancing is observed.
  • Places of worship usually see a higher percentage of our seniors in attendance, however, these are individuals who are considered most at risk.
  • And their safety and protection is paramount.
  • We encourage outside religious services as these are considered the safest option.
  • And at present communion, baptisms, church luncheons and Agape Feasts are not yet approved by the Ministry of Health until Phase Four.
  • For more information, the public can visit the full guidance on the Government website under coronavirus.

We recognise that the days are getting considerably warmer and residents are spending more time engaging in recreational water activities. So here’s some key reminders regarding boats and maritime activities while in Phase Three.

  • Boating activity is now allowed until 10.00 pm, which is one hour before the curfew ends.
  • Therefore, all boats must be off the water by 10.00 pm.
  • The Coast Guard will be enforcing the 10.00 pm water curfew.
  • Additionally, tour boat capacities have been increased raised from 10 to 20 people, but physical distancing guidelines must be followed for all boating activity.
  • Gatherings at Public Beaches and Parks are permitted during Phase Three. However, the public beaches and parks will close at 8:00pm.

Regarding restaurants:

  • As you are aware, indoor dining has resumed. The Ministry of Health’s guidelines must be adhered to.
  • Patrons at these establishments are encouraged to comply with the restaurants in providing your name and contact information for tracing purposes.
  • With the curfew being raised to 11.00 pm, restaurants will close at 10.00 pm.
  • The public is also advised to be mindful of drinking and driving which the BPS will enforce against.

Laundromats:  

  • You will be pleased to know that the 1 person limit has now been lifted. You are able to go to the Laundromat any day of the week while still observing physical distancing and the use of a mask or face covering.

Finally turning to some additional information from the Bermuda Police Service:

Last Sunday, the Black Lives Matter march, which was supported by the Bermuda Police Service saw more than 7,000, people in attendance.

This is considered to be the highest assembly of people seen in living memory. The BPS took a community based approach working with organisers to facilitate a lawful, peaceful gathering.

As a result of this engagement, there were no incidents of disorder and no arrests made.

The march chose to pass the BPS Hamilton station which was facilitated. A peaceful and respectful response was given by protestors. The BPS have now begun a response to the BLM agenda.

This will include greater transparency in what the Service does, including increased training in relation to diversity and customer service. Additionally the Independent Advisory Group will assist and support the BPS with any action in going forward. The Commissioner has also engaged with CURB to extend the restorative practice training in the BPS as well as provide input to Officers and staff on Bermuda’s history and issues such as unconscious bias.

As the public is aware, a serving BPS officer was suspended for the publication of a racist post on social media. The Commissioner will utilize the fast track process within the Police Conduct Regulations to expedite this matter and is fully aware of community sensitivities about this matter.

We recognise that there are more planned marches, and the Ministry of National Security supports and believes in our citizens’ democratic right to peacefully gather. I must stress that individuals who wish to demonstrate and this includes any type of public procession – must get the appropriate approval from the Deputy Governor. Additionally, the event must be sanctioned by the Ministry of National Security.

Lastly, we know that there remains considerable interest into the disappearance of Chavelle Dillon Burgess. The BPS investigation actively continues and Specialist advice has been provided to the BPS in relation to its search strategy.

Thank you.

Thank you Minister Caines.

As I indicated in my earlier comments, the government is planning, if all things go well, to move to phase four at the expiration of the state of emergency on June 30, which means that phase four may commence, on July 1. But of course, phase four involves one of the things that are eagerly anticipated, which is the return of regularly scheduled commercial traffic. We cannot make that decision on the day of, as there is certainly advanced lead time which is needed for our hotels and our airports. So we’ve made the decision that at this point in time it is going to be prudent for us to make that announcement, so that we can plan ahead. However, things are always subject to change as we see here. Now the Minister of Tourism and Transport will outline the various measures that are going to be in place to protect our country as we prepare to welcome tourists.

MINISTER OF TOURISM AND TRANSPORT STATEMENT

There are many in our community and around the world eagerly awaiting confirmation of when the L.F. Wade International Airport will once again have regularly scheduled commercial flights. I can now confirm that the decision has been made to resume commercial flights on 1 July 2020.

To that end, the Ministry of Tourism and Transport and industry stakeholders continue working to finalise all the protocols and requirements that will be put in place to secure Bermuda and her people from the spread of COVID-19. Because of the fluid and dynamic nature of this pandemic, and the need to protect all in our community, we have produced a working document, which will be fine-tuned in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

What I can share this evening is an outline of the process visitors will go through when travelling to and from Bermuda.  This outline will allow travellers to plan, and the tourism industry to prepare, even while the details are solidified over the next few days.

Our plan features five stages of visitors travelling to Bermuda.

  • Stage 1 is “Pre-Departure”
  • Stage 2 is “In Flight”
  • Stage 3 is “Upon Arrival”
  • Stage 4 is “On-Island Experience” and
  • The final stage is the “Return Home.”

I will give a brief overview of what we are working on, and what visitors and Bermuda may expect.

 

Phase 1 Pre-Departure

Prior to departing for Bermuda, travellers will be responsible for several things, including:

  • obtaining a certified PCR COVID-19 test that is negative and taken within 72 hours of departure;
  • ensuring they have appropriate health insurance;
  • wearing face masks when travelling to the departure airport, and,
  • wearing face masks and practicing physical distancing at the departure airport.

There will also be certain forms that must be completed including the Traveller Screening Form that those on the repatriation flights will be familiar with, as well as an arrival card – containing information shared between Immigration and the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Work is underway to merge these forms, making it more convenient for travellers.

Also, we want the assistance of airlines servicing Bermuda to help prevent persons with COVID-19 coming to Bermuda. This will be done by having airlines conduct verbal health questioning at check-in, as well as conducting a visual check of arrival documentation and forms. Some airlines already carry out contactless temperature checks, and that is something we would want all airlines to do.

 

Phase 2 in Flight

During the flight, all airline passengers must wear a face mask while on-board the plane.

Airlines will also disinfect the aircraft and seats will be assigned bearing in mind the need for physical distancing. Efforts should also be made to limit contact between passengers and crew.

 

Phase 3 Upon Arrival

Upon arrival in Bermuda, travellers must continue to wear their face mask and practice physical distancing.

Customs and Immigration officials will be wearing the necessary levels of personal protective equipment or PPE and shielding.

Also, as soon as possible following arrival in Bermuda, every passenger must undergo COVID-19 testing either at the airport or at their accommodations. Depending on the volume of tests, the results are expected to be received within 24 hours, but in most cases the turnaround time will be less than eight hours.

At the airport, there will be safety protocols in place. These include the Department of Health conducting contactless temperature checks, hand sanitization stations located through the facility, all staff wearing face masks, and the sanitization of luggage.

 

Phase 4 On-Island Experience

Once visitors have exited the airport and are securing their ground transport, face masks must still be worn. In addition, the standard requirement for physical distancing, face masks and hygiene apply to drivers and passengers alike. Ideally, contactless payment methods are preferred.

At the visitor’s place of lodging, it is advised that contact be limited at check-in. Guests should be given access to their rooms as soon as possible where they will be quarantined for a matter of hours until the COVID-19 test results are delivered.

Throughout a guest’s stay, their temperature must be taken twice per day and the results recorded.

All local accommodations must ensure the necessary staff is available and that the necessary safety measures are in place in the facility as advised by the Ministry of Health.

These include having:

  • medical personnel on call;
  • enhanced cleaning protocols and hand sanitizing stations;
  • staff trained by the Department of Health on COVID-19 best practices;
  • face masks provided for guests and staff, and;
  • amenities that comply with physical distancing guidelines.

While this plan greatly mitigates the risk of someone arriving in Bermuda with COVID-19, we are finalizing a detailed plan for persons who may test positive during their visit.  Bermuda’s public health professionals have a well-earned reputation for managing COVID-19 cases successfully and there is every reason to believe that tradition can continue in Phase 4.

As far as the ability to partake of island experiences, we are working to finalise a policy that allows travellers who test negative 72hrs in advance and who also test negative on arrival in Bermuda to be able to have freedom of movement, adhering to the Health guidelines available at the time.

At the conclusion of a guest’s visit and, as per the standard practice for public transportation, the requirements for on-board physical distancing, hygiene, and mask-wearing will apply to taxi drivers and passengers. Again, contactless payment methods are preferred.

Once at the airport, the same requirements when arriving in Bermuda apply to departure. Pre-boarding health screening in the form of a temperature check will be conducted if the destination jurisdiction requires it.

Please bear in mind that, as we work to finalize the protocols and requirements for travel to Bermuda, rest assured, we will always place the safety of our island and its people above all else.

Thank you.  

Thank you very much, Minister DeSilva, and I’m sure that there’s a large number of persons that are looking forward to us reopening our borders and allowing visitors to visit our country, in a safe fashion and certainly there are Bermudians who are still stranded overseas who welcome the resumption of regular flights.

Just a note before I move towards a few other remarks, there’ll be a press release going out from the Minister of Public Works regarding special provisions for public parks and beaches this weekend. Public parks and beaches will close at 8pm, this weekend on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. So it is important to note that this will be taking place and beaches and parks will close at 8pm and will reopen at 5am.

As we move into phase three with our economy being opened safely, we must remember our individual responsibility to stop the spread of COVID-19. If you are sick, stay at home, follow the Ministry of Health’s guidelines when entering buildings, and continue to make sure that you are wearing your mask and maintaining physical distance. As I have said many times, following these public health measures can and will save lives. I want to encourage all of us to not be complacent. We’ve heard the recent news of a significant reduction in the number of active cases. It will not be wise of us to assume that COVID-19 has been eliminated from our shores. It is not the time to let our guard down as it only takes one or two possible cases for us to begin to flare up again.

I see comments about saying, ‘oh you know we have so few cases, why do we still have all these restrictions, etc.’ The reason why we’ve been able to open up with our phased approach as quickly as we have, is because the international guidelines are to wait 28 days between the moving of phases. We’ve done our moving phases in three weeks instead of four. This is because of the good results we’re getting.

But it is the only because we have done what is necessary to continue to remain masked and practice our physical distancing that we have been able to make this progress. Letting our guard down can set us back, and it is key that we understand this. This epidemic is not over, and will be with us for some time. Many of us are beginning to let our guard down, and it is important that you understand or remain vigilant.

We think that things may be harmless, but the fact is that given that there is so much asymptomatic transmission of this virus, we can never know. You heard me share the stories last week of persons who would have brought this virus back home to

elderly family members who ended up going to the hospital, and being tested positive upon admission. So it’s critically important that we continue to keep our guard up.

Testing has been critical to keeping the number of confirmed cases low. We have the capacity to test 200 people a day, however many times these slots go unfilled as people are not getting tested as much now, as they were before. Just like the Minister of Health has said, I encourage everyone if you have not already been tested, to do so.

You can go to coronavirus.gov.bm, and click on the link which says, at the very top, COVID-19 testing. I’m certainly encouraging persons who are a personal services provider or food service provider, or people who are on the front line. You can book your appointment and get tested at your convenience.

Minister Burch stated about phase three-B when he was here on Monday. This is just going to be an interim measure of where we might be allowing a few more additional services next week. Two of the things which are going to be considered by the Cabinet Committee, earlier as I mentioned, are limited outdoor bar services for community and members clubs, and in addition, the expansion of some personal services.

Cabinet has given tentative approval to the expansion of personal services such as facials, beard shaving, massages, and waxing. However, these expansion these services are going to be subject to regular testing of those operators, due to the increased risk that these interactions can present.

I would advise operators who are inside of that category to go to coronavirus.gov.bm and book your test. Get tested to ensure that you are clear of the virus, so that next week, when the services are allowed to be expanded, you are able to go ahead and expand your services. If you are not tested, you will not be able to expand the services, as we want to make sure that we are keeping the country safe.

So again, for those persons who are operators, go ahead and book your tests. For those persons who are desperately waiting to shave their beard, or to get their wax,

or to get their massage, reach out to your operator and tell them to make sure they go get tested, so that when these things open up next week, you will be able to take advantage of this service.

On the issue of cannabis reform, the public is invited to share their thoughts and ideas surrounding this topic. The Attorney General has pivoted the scope of the government’s cannabis policy to achieve a regulated cannabis regime. She issued a statement to all media last night encouraging comments on the policy document, and the illustrative draft, during this consultation period.

Those who have an interest in this topic, are posting on social media and providing commentary through the local media. Some persons have even taken to emailing their members of parliament. This is a consultation process. The only way that your views will be heard and reflected is to have your comments recorded, and you must go to the government website, forum.gov.bm, where you will find the consultation documents and instructions on how to submit your views, questions, and concerns.

On that website, of course you can vote, up and down various remarks and say whether or not you support comments which have been left or not. The Attorney General advised me that she will continue to update the consultation document in real time on a regular basis so that people can see that the comments which are coming from the public are being taken into account. But it is essential that you please do not have those conversations on social media. Please do not have those conversations amongst yourselves, make sure that you go and submit your thoughts and concerns on forum.gov.bm.

National Heroes Day is on Monday June 15, when we will recognize Bermuda’s eight national heroes and remember them as we celebrate their accomplishments. I will pause to reflect on the local and international accomplishments and contributions made by one of Bermuda’s national heroes, Dr. Pauulu Kamarakafego.

Many years before there was a black lives matter movement, he was leading movements for equality and justice. He was a civil rights leader and political activist and played a key role in the fight to abolish the property vote as the founder of the committee for universal adult suffrage. And he was also an elected member of

parliament. He was an ecological engineer and an internationally recognized freedom fighter. He traveled around the world to countries including Liberia, Ghana, Kenya, Australia, China, Vanuatu, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, where he taught and shared his knowledge as an engineer working on local and country wide projects.

He met with country leaders to reshape the narrative for people who were displaced in their own countries, and joined the fight against oppressive authorities. Dr. Kamarakafego was a consultant to the United Nations, and was the first recipient of the Human Rights Commission’s human rights award. As we prepare for the weekend, we must remember the importance of heroes’ day, and the sacrifices made by Dr. Kamarakafego, and the work he contributed to advance Bermuda’s society, and many countries around the world.

Finally, before I take questions from the media, I invite you to join me this Saturday evening at 7:30pm, when I will answer your questions live on the Government of Bermuda Facebook page. That broadcasts will also be shown on CITV, and I’m happy to entertain questions on any matter of government policy or also questions on phase three, phase three B, and phase four. Our next press conference will take place next week Tuesday, June 16, as Monday is a holiday, and then I will see you again next week Thursday. With that, I’m happy to take any questions that members of the media may have.

Thank you.

Minister of Health Suggestion To #BlackLivesMatter Protesters

COVID-19 Testing suggested for those that attended the June 7th protest

 

 

The Minister of Health the Hon. Kim Wilson JP MP reminds the public that free COVID-19 testing is available at the Southside drive-through, in the car park of the former White’s grocery store. Persons who attended the Black Lives Matter march on Sunday 7th are especially encouraged to get tested, in particular if you were in close contact with an unmasked person.  Appointment or drop-in spots available this Thursday from 1.30pm to 7pm; and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 1pm.

https://bdagovcovid.resqwest.com/web/

June 8th COVI-19 Press Conference

 

8 June COVID-19 Update

Good evening, Bermuda.

Today I’m joined by the Minister of Health, the Minister of National Security and the Minister of Public Works.

Yesterday was a powerful moment for Bermuda. Thousands took to the streets to show solidarity and support for the Black Lives Matter movement, while demanding justice, and elimination of racism in Bermuda.

As we marched, we affirmed that Black Lives Matter, and with the rest of the world, remembered American black men and women who have been murdered by the state. It is clear that the events in United States have affected many, and I’m pleased that this government changed the laws, so that a legal and peaceful protest could take place this Sunday.

Racism in Bermuda isn’t new, and racist attitudes still persist in Bermuda. Police brutality in Bermuda, is not new either, and neither are police who may have racists views. 2 December 2016 and recent local events have proven that that is the case. There is still economic disparity between black and white people who do the same jobs in Bermuda. This is our truth, and of course, it is not enough just to talk about it, but we must continue to act on it.

Bermuda’s justice system is not colorblind. We have to make sure that we continue the reforms to our justice system so that the differing treatment of black person versus white persons inside of the criminal justice system is no longer there. This inequity is what led this government to decriminalize cannabis possession because the outcome of that law disproportionately, negatively affected black males, with 95% of convictions of cannabis possession being black males, whereas the usage statistics amongst black and whites is similar.

In the House of Assembly on Friday, I said that as a country, we must maintain the energy to continue to fix injustice. It is my hope, when we move forward with making additional changes t legislation, legislation that will dismantle laws, practices, and policies of systemic racism that negatively impact black people, they’ll be met with the same energy for real change in equity that we saw on display this weekend.

In April, then Minister Jamahl Sivan invited the public to provide their opinions on current laws that they believe should be updated. The objective was to get public feedback to assist the government with updating, reforming, and repealing existing laws and introducing new laws that will benefit the people of Bermuda, because it’s important that the government listens to the people it represents. And this online forum provides opportunity for us to engage in meaningful consultation, so that persons can provide their feedback.

Additionally, the Minister for Community Affairs and Sports, the Hon Lovitta Foggo, will shortly issue a statement announcing that she has reopened the Bermuda Race Relations discussion. In order to move forward we must address and improve the relationships between the various sub communities on this island. Minister Foggo did open that up, and it was engaged in with her Ministry earlier, but she’s reopening that consultation and persons are invited to visit forum.gov.bm to add their thoughts to these issues.

Before I ask the Minister of Health to provide an update, I want to thank everyone who joined the march this weekend. The vast majority of Bermudians I encountered were wearing a mask and where possible exercised physical distancing. I encourage everyone, who may have been out on the streets, to take advantage of the free COVID testing which will be available next weekend – and you can visit coronavirus.gov.bm to book your appointment today.

On that note, I will invite the Minister of Health to provide today’s COVID-19 update.

Minister of Health statement

Good Afternoon,

Between Sunday and today there were 122 test results received by the Ministry of Health; and none were positive for COVID-19. This means we have not had a positive case for a full week.

Bermuda continues to have 141 total confirmed positive cases. Their status is as follows:

  • there are 12 active cases, of which
  • 8 persons are under active public health monitoring, and
  • 4 persons are hospitalized;
  • none are in critical care.
  • A total of 120 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 77 and their age ranges from 66 to 86 years.

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

Overall, 57% of all cases are Black, 41% are white and 2% are other or unknown.

The source of all local cases is as follows:

  • 41 are Imported
  • 84 are Local transmission, with known contact
  • 11 are Local transmission with an unknown contact, and
  • 5 are under investigation

Bermuda’s country status remains “Local Transmission – Cluster of Cases”. The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is 0.63.

Our reopening indicators will be updated today, showing that we are holding steady in our control of COVID-19. In fact, I’m pleased that our score on face mask wearing has improved, moving us up to amber on that indicator. Well done, Bermuda! On that note, I should thank Mr Aaron Evans for his collaboration with the Ministry of Health team on the reopening scorecard.

I was truly impressed by the images of yesterday’s march with near-universal use of face masks. Our team members who attended the march to hand out face masks reported that there were very few un-masked persons. We hope this responsible action by the public will prevent this mass event from being a ‘super-spreader’ incident.

We will keep a close eye on the reopening indicators to see how things evolve for the coming two weeks of the virus’s incubation period. Until then, please register on HealthIQ and update your status frequently. This is more necessary than ever, following yesterday’s one-off mass event.

I also encourage persons to take advantage of the free testing available through our drive-through at Southside, especially if they were in close contact with one of the very few people who were not wearing a mask. Close contact means within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes.

As we head into the summer, I feel it’s an appropriate time to share with you some of the most recent guidance that has been produced regarding summer day camps and afterschool programmes.

It can be found on the Government website and it is intended 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, Public Health England, and World Health Organization.

If you’re a parent, this guidance will tell you what the government is recommending Camp organizers consider to help limit the risks of COVID-19 transmission. The measures that can be put in place will vary according to the type and location of the camp.

If you’re a Camp Director, this guidance includes a lot of advice and ideas to help you plan delivery of a safer camp such as:

  • Safer access to and from the site including drop-off and pick-up;
  • Ensuring there are no symptomatic people on site who may have COVID-19;
  • Safer child to staff ratios with physical distancing;
  • Choosing activities that limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission;
  • And having a robust plan to provide physical and emotional support if needed.

It goes without saying that children and staff may only enter a camp programme if they are healthy, have not been exposed to an individual with COVID-19 symptoms, and are not under public health directions to be self-quarantined or isolated.

Programmes that provide additional services from private vendors for Karate, Gymnastics, Dance, Music etc. should be aware that the movement of persons from one facility to another poses challenges to containing the spread of the virus. Therefore Camps should consider using remote platforms, such as Zoom, for the continuation of these classes to ensure they are provided safely.

Summer is prime time for campers to take field trips around the community. However, I must reiterate that the use of facility mini vans or private mini buses to transport children for pick-up/drop-off services and/or field trips should be done safely with all the physical distancing precautions – all must wear a mask and keep 3 feet apart. Operators can transport smaller groups to make sure can travel safely.

Extensive hygiene practices should be implemented at the Camps and are listed in full in the guidance on the website.

More than ever it’s increasingly important to maintain high levels of routine, responsivity, and nurturing for children. Children and adults have been significantly impacted by the closure of schools, change in routines, and drastic social adjustments. As a result, it is common to see an increase in problematic behaviours, anxiety, and depression. As many mood-related concerns typically present in behavioural disruptions in child-populations, symptoms may include: anger/irritability, frustration, crying, sadness, and limit testing. The guidance provides ways to address these concerns.

Another set of guidance which has been created and is now posted on the Government website is that for babysitters and nannies working for one or more families in the family’s private homes.

If the family and sitter or nanny are in good health, there is no reason not to continue having them in the home. But each family and sitter or nanny will need to make a risk-based decision about whether to continue their care agreement.

If you’re a babysitter, a nanny or a family who chooses to bring child care into your home, there are several actions you need to take immediately to protect against COVID-19 spread.

These include practicing safe, effective hygiene measures; details of which can be found on the website coronavirus.gov.bm.

Temperatures of the children and adults should be taken regularly and efforts should be made to avoid social gatherings where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

If the babysitter, nanny or the family live with a person who is considered extremely clinically vulnerable and should be shielded, then persons from outside the household should not be entering home.

If either the sitter, nanny or the family has symptoms of COVID-19, then the sitter or nanny should not report to work. Both should remain at home (and keep away from other people) and call your doctor.

I want to note again that masks must NOT be used for children under the age of 2 and should not be used for extended periods of time for children between 2 and 10-years-old.

For all COVID-19 guidance, please visit coronavirus.gov.bm.

Thank You, Bermuda, and stay safe.

Thank you minister.

Last week I stated that Bermuda would move to Phase 3 – Moving to Normal, this week Thursday. In addition to the Expansion of Services in Phase 2, Phase 3 was stated to have the following:

The reopening of public school buildings, and as the Minister of Education announced, public school buildings will not reopen this academic year. However, private schools may be open, if they wish.

The reintroduction of childcare services, according to the guidance from the Ministry of Health; the opening of government offices; the ending of mandated working from home, and the allowed opening of churches and houses of worship, and also, gyms.

Additional items which have been added to Phase3; are restaurants will be able to open for indoor dining with physical distancing being maintained and in place with limits; and also cinemas and museums, will be able to reopen with 20% capacity with physical distancing in place. These were items which were originally scheduled for Phase 4.

The limits for gatherings will be adjusted from 10 to 20 persons. Additionally, pools, which were previously closed will be subject to the maximum limit of gathering for 20 persons and will also be allowed to be open.

The final item which I’m sure that a lot of persons are concerned about is what about the curfew? The curfew hours will be sorted from 10pm to 6am, where they are currently right now, to 11pm to 5am.

Minister Burch joins us here at the podium. He has been chairing the Cabinet committee that has been engaged in the difficult work of making sure that we reopen our economy safely and that Cabinet committee has been meeting repeatedly over the past few days, and as late as earlier today to finalize the specific guidance that is going to be announced today.

I’m now going to turn the podium over to Minister Burch who can give additional details on Phase 3, and certainly speak to any particular work that the committee’s engaged in. Minister.

Minister of Works statement

Good evening.

The Cabinet Committee on the Reopening Strategy for Bermuda has made several recommendations to transition to Phase 3.  I can confirm that we will move to Phase 3 at 6 am on Thursday, 11th June 2020.

In accordance with the originally proposed phases, the Committee recommends that Phase 3 will provide for the following:

  1. Public Schools will continue with remote learning and online instruction through 19th June 2020 when the school term will end;
  2. Private Schools will be allowed to open as necessary providing they follow the guidelines established by the Department of Health;
  3. Educational Support Programs will expand to support parents who return to work during Phase 3.  Care will be provided from June 16th to 19th;
  4. Government Summer Camps will open earlier than usual on June 24th, 2020;
  5. Private Summer Camps will be allowed to open following Department of Health Guidelines;
  6. Childcare services permitted to reopen subject to public health guidance;
  7. Additional Government offices will reopen with Heads of Department and line managers responsible for ensuring appropriate physical distancing for staff in office or continued remote working;
  8. Mandated working from home will no longer be required, however, it is strongly encouraged to work from home if possible, and certainly, those government departments that are able to do that, who are incapable of providing physical distancing within the offices, will continue the rotations.
  9. Church buildings will be permitted to reopen subject to adoption of appropriate public health protocols and for services with 20% of a sanctuary’s approved occupancy;
  10. Gyms will be permitted to reopen subject to public health guidance;
  11. Public/tourism pools permitted to reopen within prescribed maximum numbers for gatherings;
  12. Cinemas and Museums permitted to open subject to 20% of occupancy and adherence to  public health guidelines;
  13. Indoor Dining (no bar services) with physical distancing to include either barriers or tables set six feet apart;
  14. The curfew will shift to 11pm in the evenings to 5am in the morning;
  15. The maximum permitted numbers of persons for any gathering shall remain at 20 persons.

The committee is meeting regularly and will be making further recommendations that other activities be implemented at a new Phase 3b.  As an example – some faith-based entities have made representations for the holding of outdoor services and the Ministry of Health will provide best practice protocols that should obtain for this purpose.  There are several other activities being considered and I expect there will be further announcements at Thursday’s briefing, as we look forward to advancing the economy and reviewing those items that are in phase 4 that can be moved to phase 3b.

Thank you, Premier.

Thank you very much Colonel.

As I said in the House of Assembly on Friday, the government is now looking at safely reopening Bermuda’s borders, which will form part of Phase 4. As we introduce a move through Phase3, and Phase 3B, the next step will be how dowe make sure that we can allow our tourism workers to return to work and allow persons to visit Bermuda safely.

As we saw last week, our government lab was able to test the returning passengers from Canada, and get the results back within five hours. This was a great accomplishment for the lab and shows how we are able to quickly begin to put practices into place to test arriving passengers quickly and easily.

As a government and a country, we are moving forward. We are following the rules, we are doing our part, we now have a reduction in the number of cases, our real time reproductive number is less than one. We’ve gone seven days without a new case, and this is certainly something to be celebrated. But we must remain vigilant, we have to continue to do what we have been doing all this time, so that we can have the same results that we have been having all of this time.