COVID-19 Update – Premier’s Remarks on 3 June 2021
Good evening Bermuda,
I begin by extending my heartfelt condolences on behalf of the Government and the people of Bermuda to two families who experienced great loss over the Bermuda Day weekend. Firstly to the family of Amber Bridges who tragically passed after a serious road accident. And also to the family of the 33rd person we have lost to the coronavirus. You are in our thoughts and in our prayers, and we wish you much strength and comfort during this very difficult time.
It was saddening to have a weekend of celebration end with the loss of two lives, but it was a harsh reminder of how precious life is, and that we must ensure to cherish each moment we have.
Such cherished moments undoubtedly took place this past weekend as we celebrated our heritage on Bermuda Day. Whether it was along the road supporting the cyclists and runners, at Nationals Sports Centre watching talented local performers, or at home celebrating with family. We showed that we are truly beginning to move beyond the pandemic.
In addition to that we have seen the implementation of SafeKey, allow local restaurants to stay one step ahead of the coronavirus restrictions, and open for indoor dining. We are making progress, and we are reclaiming our summer, as we are retake Bermuda from the hold of the pandemic.
Moving beyond the pandemic also means getting back to work for the people of Bermuda on issues beyond the coronavirus, including our economic recovery and diversification, and rekindling positive relationships both locally and abroad that have been on hold due to restrictions.
I am speaking to you tonight from Miami, where I am leading a delegation from Bermuda Business Development Agency to meet with business and government leaders to build upon the strong economic relationship between Bermuda and Florida as well as the United States as a whole – and continuing the work to diversify our economy which is essential for our future economic prosperity.
Tonight I am joined by the Minister of Health, the Hon. Kim Wilson, who will now provide an update to the country on our latest coronavirus test results, our latest vaccination statistics, and outline the new regulations for our move to Phase 3.
We are also joined by technical officers who will be able to answer any technical questions that we may have, including the Chief Medical Officer.
Minister of Health….
Thank you Premier, and good evening everyone.
The Ministry of Health received 1226 test results since the last update, and none were positive for coronavirus. This gives a test positivity rate of 0.0%.
Additionally, since the last update, there were two (2) recoveries and no deaths.
There are currently 17 active cases, of which;
- 16 are under public health monitoring and;
- One (1) is in the hospital, with none (0) in intensive care
Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 2494 total confirmed cases of COVID-19; out of those, 2444 persons have recovered, and sadly, there have been 33 COVID related deaths.
The source of all cases is as follows:
- 305 are Imported
- 2174 are classified as local transmission of which:
- 1679 are Local transmission with known contact/source and
- 495 are Local transmission with an unknown contact/source
- 15 are Under Investigation
As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change. The seven-day average of our real-time reproduction number is 0.27. Bermuda’s current WHO country status remains “Community Transmission”.
I will now provide an update on our vaccination programme.
We have completed the twentieth full week of vaccinations. Since January 11th, Bermuda has administered a total of 70,731 vaccinations – a figure that rises to 71,847 if you include vaccinations on Sunday, May 30th through to Wednesday, June 2nd as well!
Of the 70,731 vaccinations given as of May 29th:
- 52% are women, and,
- 48% are men.
78.8% of all residents over the age of 65 years have had at least one vaccination, and 73.6% are fully immunised. To date, 58.3% of the total population has been vaccinated (with 1 dose), and 52.1% of the population has been immunised (with 2 doses). Our vaccination programme is progressing, but we are not there yet, and we need to increase our number of immunised residents sooner rather than later. The more people who are immunised, the safer our community will be, and the closer to new normal in terms of how our lives will get.
Bermuda will move into phase 3 on its road map to recovery on June 6, 2021, with the following changes to current restrictions:
- The night-time curfew will be changed to 12am to 5am.
- ·Recreational boating will be allowed between 5am and 11pm. Boat occupants are allowed to stay out overnight but must remain on the boat, which must be moored, berthed or anchored from 11pm to 5am. Boaters must remain on the boat through night-time curfew. Raft ups are not allowed.
- Commercial boating is allowed and not limited by the group size restrictions. Instead, boat capacity is limited in accordance with Marine & Ports’ licensing for Island Boats.
- Large gatherings will have a maximum of 50 people. The Minister of National Security will still have the ability to issue exemptions to the gathering size maximum.
- Retail businesses and grocery stores can open with no limitations on capacity.
- Bars, restaurants, nightclubs and sports/members clubs can open for seated table service and seated bar service indoors and outdoors. Table service is restricted to a maximum of 10 persons per table, and tables must be spaced 6ft apart. Seated bar service will be the subject of guidance with respect to distancing also.
- Weddings, funerals, and domestic partnerships are allowed for indoor and outdoor ceremonies with a maximum of 50 people. Wakes and receptions are allowed up to a maximum of 50 people. Masks must be worn.
- Religious services can resume indoors. The maximum gathering size does not apply, provided public health measures are applied with respect to physical distancing and hand hygiene. In addition, congregations must wear masks at all times; officiants and choirs must wear masks if unable to maintain 6ft physical distance.
- Gyms are open with equipment spaced 6ft apart. Staff, personal trainers and patrons must wear a mask when not working out and must maintain 6ft physical distance. Outdoor classes are to maintain 6ft physical distance.
- Personal services: barbershops, beauty salons, spas, massage therapists can open and provide services that require face masks to be removed. Staff must wear masks at all times.
- Event Facilities, i.e. Movie theatres, library, galleries, etc. can open with a maximum of 50 people.
While these relaxations will be welcomed by all, I must caution the key public health measures still apply: wear a mask, keep physically distanced and practice good hand hygiene. The next Close to Home mobile vaccinations will be at Victor Scott Primary School on Sunday, 6 June from 10am – 2pm.
At the Close to Home mobile vaccination sites, there will be doctors on site to answer any questions you have, and you don’t need an appointment. You can just show up and roll up your sleeve. We recommend the Close to Home mobile vaccination programme as an ideal opportunity to learn more for those people who want to hear about the COVID-19 vaccine from a trusted source. If you need a free ride to any Close to Home mobile vaccinations sites, call 533-5903 between 10.00 am and 1.30 pm. Mini-buses are available to take you there and bring you back home. Since the mobile vaccination programme began on April 27, a total of 2,665 vaccines have been given as of June 3. About 70% of injections were administered to people receiving their first dose.
The Bermuda College Vaccination Centre, is open Monday – Friday (from now until 8 June) from 9am – 1pm. The Bermuda College Vaccination Centre is also holding a Jab, and Jam event on Saturday 5 June from 10am – 6pm, – there will be music, food, fun, and lots of giveaways. I encourage anyone who wants to get vaccinated to attend this event at the Bermuda College this Saturday.
The Hospital Vaccination Centre is open on Saturday and Sunday the 5th and 6th of June for Walk-ins from 8 am-6 pm and for scheduled appointments from 8 am – 8 pm. They will also be open on Monday and Tuesday 7th and 8th of June for Walk-ins, and scheduled appointments are available from 8 am-8 pm.
We want to thank the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, which has provided graciously the use their property as a location to vaccinate the public.
Each person that is vaccinated at this location will receive a $50 gift card from the Frontline Foundation. As well, their name will be entered into a raffle draw generously hosted by the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club for a two-night stay in Fairmont Gold, as well as a 50% voucher for the buffet that takes place at the hotel. The hours of operation for this site will be June 3 & 4, 2021, from 3 to 7 pm, located in the Princess Ball Room. The Hamilton Princess will also provide refreshments in the observation area. If you need assistance getting vaccinated or have questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the hotline 444-2498 and select Option #2. The Vaccine Call Centre is available from 8 am – 4 pm, Monday to Friday and Saturdays from 9 am – 3 pm. The Vaccine Call Centre is closed on Sundays.
Bermuda’s current supplies of Pfizer BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines expire on June 30. The Pfizer vaccine requires three weeks between doses. This means the last, first dose can be given on June 8, which is just five days away. To be sure you can receive two (2) doses of the Pfizer vaccine, please either register for an appointment at gov.bm or attend the walk-in facility at the Bermuda College, the hospital or one of the Close to Home locations before the 8th of June.
The AstraZeneca vaccine can be administered up to 12 weeks after the first dose. Therefore, the first dose can be given until June 30, with the second dose administered from a new batch of vaccines received from COVAX. As I have said previously, there are enough COVID-19 vaccines available in Bermuda for anyone who wants to be vaccinated. Once the current batches of vaccines have expired, more will be sourced in the coming months. For those who wish to get the Pfizer vaccine, now is definitely the time. There are no guarantees of Bermuda getting more doses in the immediate future.
I know the fertility issue is an understandable concern, particularly for women of child-bearing age. There is currently no evidence that suggests that vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems. Routine pregnancy testing before a COVID-19 vaccination is not recommended. However, if you are trying to become pregnant, you do not need to avoid pregnancy after the COVID-19 vaccine. Similar to all vaccines, scientists are studying COVID-19 vaccines carefully and will report findings as they become available.
Data shows that any of the currently authorised COVID-19 vaccines can be offered to people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Pregnant people are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, which could result in intensive care admission, mechanical ventilation or even death.
In addition, pregnant people with COVID might be at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, compared with pregnant women without COVID-19. Getting vaccinated is a personal choice, so if you have any questions, a conversation with your health provider might help.
In closing, I would like to publicly thank the companies and organisations providing support, encouragement, and incentives to our vaccination programme. It is an extensive list, and I apologise in advance if I miss mentioning someone.
The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, Red Laser Ltd., Aspen Bermuda Limited, Auto Solutions, the Frontline Foundation, Grotto Bay Hotel, Trip Limited, Rosewood Bermuda, Royal Palms, The Fairmont Southampton, Masters Limited, The Loren at Pink Beach, Coco Reef Hotel, The Reefs, Cambridge Beaches, Worldview Travel, AXA XL, Willis Towers Watson, Chubb, Zurich, The Argus Group, Kenny’s Kitchen, Market Place . . . each of our DJs, Ariel Corporate Charters for the mini-bus services, taxi drivers, and the multitude of volunteers and location staff for their resources and time. Digicel and One Communications for sending out text messages reminding the public about the Close to Home mobile vaccination sites. All of the assistance we are getting is truly appreciated – it really is.
Many people have done an enormous amount of work to get us where we are today, and a lot of our community has been immunised to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Everyone needs to be congratulated. Bermuda has made significant progress in controlling the spread of the virus – we have had the lowest number of new positive cases in many weeks. Bermuda is slowly opening up, but we are not out of the woods completely. We must continue to take personal and shared responsibility in keeping our community safe as we advance to the next phases.
Please remember, each of us must do our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus. It is essential that we all follow Public Health guidelines, as I stated before, and wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, maintain physical distance and download the WeHealth Bermuda app. Do the research, talk with your doctor and make an informed decision about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Stay safe, Bermuda, and don’t forget to avoid the three “Cs”: closed spaces, crowded places and close contact settings.
Thank you Minister. And, thank you to your team for all of their continued hard work, especially during our most recent outbreak. Thanks to our collective efforts as a community we can now move to Phase 3, allowing all businesses to open, and getting even more of our fellow Bermudians back to work. It is also great to see another day with no new cases. I must echo your sentiments to remind all residents to continue to take precautions so that we can keep this trend of no new cases going.
In addition to the move to Phase 3, sports have moved to Phase 4, and similar to the approval that has been given to Cup Match for 50% capacity with the use of SafeKey, similar approvals will be given to any large sporting or outdoor event by the Ministry of National Security.
If we remain successful in our goal of eliminating local transmission it is expected that approved percentages may be able to be increased in the future, but at this time any person or company planning a large outdoor event can be comfortable that they will be approved for 50% capacity with the use of SafeKey.
The purpose of SafeKey in the long-term was always to allow for large events to be able to occur, while reducing the risk of coronavirus for those in attendance. In addition to that, SafeKey gave us a way to stay one step ahead of coronavirus restrictions, and to allow indoor dining to recommence ahead of our move to Phase 3. This gave restaurants the opportunity for more business, and to get more people back to work.
It has been a pleasure to receive feedback from local businesses on how easy it has been to use SafeKey, and how good it has been for them to be able to open their doors completely for some, and for others, once again, to be able offer their customers a choice of whether to dine indoors or outdoors in the Bermuda sunshine.
While SafeKey will no longer be required for indoor dining as of Sunday, it will continue to be a valuable tool in allowing us to facilitate large events, while minimising risk.
Our vaccination programme, especially the Close to Home mobile vaccinations continue to be a success. Thank you to all of the doctors, nurses, the Bermuda Health Council and so many others for ensuring the mobile vaccinations run smoothly day in and day out. Thank you to all of those Bermudians who have made the choice to get vaccinated, and continue to push us towards our goal of community protection.
I also join the Minister in thanking the growing number of local businesses and organisations who are supporting our efforts to reach community protection. It is truly a pleasure to see the support and generosity of our business community to help our country continue to progress, and to make the pandemic a distant memory.
I have often said that we must work together if we are to achieve our goal of moving beyond the pandemic, and through these initiatives, the Government is continuing to work to make vaccines accessible to all, and Bermudians are continuing to follow the health guidelines: we are well on our way!
Community protection along with strong protections at our borders will help to protect us from dangerous variants that continue to emerge around the world. Many will have seen recent news from Vietnam where a variant that combines the U.K and Indian variants has been discovered. While the Indian variant continues to spread in the U.K and is expected to become the dominant variant there ,if this spread continues.
Community protection, along with eliminating local transmission will also allow us to see the end of all restrictions.
In my National Address in April, I outlined that should we reach those goals and in conjunction with strong protections at our borders, we could allow the Public Health Emergency to expire on June 24.
However, there is still work to be done, and tomorrow in the House of Assembly, the Minister of Health will lay a motion to extend the Public Health Emergency by a further 60 days from June 24. This motion is scheduled to be debated in the House of Assembly on June 18.
It is the Government’s current plan, if our trajectory of low case numbers are maintained, to keep the Phase 3 restrictions that were announced on Tuesday and that will come into effect on Sunday, in place until June 24. Following June 24, at that time almost all restrictions will fall away with the exception of restrictions on large groups and the continued requirements for mask-wearing in indoor public places.
Finally, on the issue of mandatory supervised quarantine, that is now a matter that is before the courts and therefore the Government cannot comment any further.
Tomorrow in the House of Assembly, there will be a debate on the Government’s Economic Recovery Plan. The Government has a robust economic recovery plan which covers issues as diverse as the Bermuda Digital Bank, the provision of more affordable housing, and reducing the price of food. I urge all to tune in to learn more about Bermuda’s Economic Recovery Plan and listen to the Ministers of the Government speak about important issues like Universal Healthcare and ensuring that we can upgrade the skills of Bermudians for jobs of the future.
While we are progressing, we also recognise that there are still difficult issues to tackle as a country and as a Government. However, the people of Bermuda can take confidence from this Government’s continued commitment and success in upholding our promises. One example of a promise kept was the modernisation of our Labour Legislation in Bermuda.
On Tuesday June 1, new Labour Laws came into effect and almost all provisions of the act have broad support amongst Organised Labour in Bermuda.
While there is still a single issue of contention between the Government of Bermuda and the Bermuda Industrial Union, it is my hope that this single issue does not overshadow the incredible progress made for workers in this country with the implementation of this new law.
As I close I would like to announce that following our press conference this evening, we will move to every other week. And our next COVID-19 press conference is scheduled to take place on Tuesday June 15.
With that, I’m now pleased to take any questions from members of the media.