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.

Press Conference April 17th – Premier David Burt

COVID-19 Update  And Shelter In Place Extension Update

April 17th

 

 

Good evening Bermuda

And a pleasant Friday afternoon to all of you.

Today at our press conference I’m joined by His Excellency the Governor who will provide information on the next air bridge flight from the United Kingdom. I’m joined also by the Minister of Health, who will provide an update on COVID-19 cases, the Minister of National Security, who will provide an update on the revisions to our Shelter in Place changes which will come into force on Monday, and also by the honorable Attorney General, who will provide an update on the Department of Child and Family Services, in addition to information regarding domestic violence.

We continue to pray, for the health and safety of those that have contracted COVID-19 or who have lost loved ones to this virus.  Our hearts are with you, and we pray that you all will recover swiftly and that the friends and families of the people we have lost loved ones are finding comfort in their time of grief.

COVID-19 has brought tragedy and swift unwelcome change to the way we live and interact with each other…It has also brought forth innovation and flexibility in thought and deed. Today, that innovation and flexibility was demonstrated, and Bermuda made history as we held the first virtual session of Bermuda’s Legislature.  This session, held over the WebX Teams App, enabled the 35 Members of the House of Assembly and the 11 members of the Senate, under the watchful eye of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, to conduct the people’s business.

All without breaking Shelter in Place, and without disrupting social distancing. And while there were some teething problems, we got through it and we accomplished the work we set out to do. Parliament today voted to continue Shelter in Place Regulations until 6 am May 2, and for the State of Emergency Order to be maintained until June 30.

Some may have interpreted this to mean that we intend to remain with Shelter in Place in force until June. That is NOT the case.  Let us kill that rumor right now. We have every hope, and every expectation that we could emerge from Shelter in Place on May 2 and the best way to ensure that happens is for people to only leave their houses for essentials, and to maintain proper social distancing while you do. Recognize, even if you go to your neighbor’s house and talk to your neighbor without face covering and otherwise, you’re putting yourself at risk, and putting the hard work that we’ve had for the last two weeks at risk as well.

We are however in uncertain times, and the government needs to have the flexibility to quickly enact restrictions which may be necessary to control the spread of this very aggressive virus. Under our existing laws, the only way that we can have the appropriate protections to prevent the spread of this virus is via a State of Emergency. It is imperfect, and I don’t like it. To remedy this we will be bringing forward legislation to allow this, and any future Government to implement appropriate measures to manage a pandemic without the need to declare a State of Emergency.

Once this amended law is drafted, passes both houses of the Legislature, and receives its assent from the Governor, the Cabinet will ask for the State of Emergency to be revoked, as the new laws will give the Government the necessary tools in the case of a pandemic.

This Government feels for the many students and Bermuda residents that remain stranded in the United Kingdom, and around the world. In order to assist in remedying this situation, the Cabinet Office in conjunction with Government House has arranged for another flight from the United Kingdom. It is important to know that this flight is only for persons who are ordinarily resident Bermuda. That means students, and those who may have been stranded outside of Bermuda, from their travels. It is not for persons who relocated to the United Kingdom, who wish to relocate to Bermuda. Also, it must be noted that persons returning will be required to pay the sum of $100 per night for accommodation and food, in Government quarantine facilities. For further information on this air bridge flight, His Excellency, the Governor will now give remarks.

His Excellency the Governor gives remarks.

Thank you. As the Governor mentioned, Bermudian students, and Bermudians ordinarily resident in Bermuda will be returned to Bermuda via the air bridge that will be departing from London Heathrow on Friday. The London Office will be in contact with those persons who are eligible for the flight, and there is no further need to contact the London Office as they already have the list of persons who have made themselves known.

Next, I will turn the podium over to the Minister of Health, Minister Kim Wilson, who will give an update on COVID-19. Minister.

Minister of Health’s statement

Thank you, Premier.

Today, there were 20 test results received; and I’m pleased to report that none were positive. There were also no additional hospitalizations or reported deaths today.

As such, Bermuda’s total confirmed positive cases stands at 83. Their status is as follows:

  • there are 43 active cases, of which
  • 34 persons are under active public health monitoring, and
  • 9 persons are hospitalized;
  • a total of 35 have now recovered, and
  • the total deceased remains at 5.

The average age of all of our confirmed positive cases is 56. The median age is 58, and the age range of all of our positive cases is from 18 to 91 years. The age of persons hospitalized ranges between 67 and 82 years, and the average age is 74.

Of the 83 positive cases confirmed to date, 37 are males, and 46 are females.

While there were no positives today, every new case we discover is a disappointment and worry to us all. However, our mitigation strategies helping us to contain the situation are bearing good fruit. We acted quickly and we are in a stronger position for it. Just this week Public Health England confirmed that our case vigilance and preparations for rapid case identification, case-isolation, contact tracing, and PCR testing are appropriate and proportionate.

Today I want to thank another group which has been working exceptionally hard throughout this pandemic, namely our Third Sector Coordinated Crisis Response Team.

This week, they allocated funds to the private and charitable residential care homes for additional food and non-medical supplies.

Each home has been allotted $100 per resident per month which can be used at Butterfield and Vallis. These funds will not (and are not intended to) cover the full cost of food and non-medical supplies; they are an addition to support each of the homes at this time. This will be for two months initially, to be reviewed as things progress.

This initiative will ensure that each home has a stable supply line.

It will also limit the number of outsiders delivering to the homes and limits (or even ends) staff going to stores, which aligns with the recent guidance from the CMO & Ministry of Health around Shielding of our most vulnerable.

Additionally, it frees up care home staff to focus on other critical work.

The process is straightforward. Each home will have an Emergency Fund account at Butterfield and Vallis; the funds will be pre-paid into the assigned account by The Bermuda Community Foundation.

Thank you also to the Bermuda Health Council for helping to coordinate this process.

Today I have another update regarding the Bermuda Health Council…

Some of you may have seen the covidIQ.net online data collection tool, which collects and depicts public health data around the island.

I can announce that the Health Council is working with developers to make some evidence-based enhancements to the platform, to serve as a broader public health data collection tool to inform health policy and strategy in order to improve the health of the community and reduce social determinants of ill health.  The more local data we have, the better our chances at getting the right resources to the right places at the right times.  This is definitely proving true as we navigate through this COVID crisis. It should be up and running shortly.

One question which I have heard asked quite a lot this past week is, ‘What is the treatment for COVID patients?’

As most of us know, currently there are no proven treatments to cure COVID-19.

However, the standard of care for COVID-19 is supportive management, oxygen supplementation, IV hydration, and non-invasive or invasive ventilator support where needed.

Sometimes COVID-19 can lead to bacterial super-infections and hemodynamic instability which can be treated with antibiotics and mediations to elevate the blood pressure respectively. In select cases, patients may be offered other medications if a physician believes the potential benefits outweigh the risks, based on limited evidence. Such cases would require informed consent by the patient or a patient’s designated representative after a robust discussion regarding the potential risks and benefits of the offered treatment.

In closing, I wish to thank international and local businesses in Bermuda who have collectively raised $1,044,000 to date for essential medical supplies and equipment, including personal protective equipment and ventilators. I’m really proud of how Bermuda’s insurers, re-insurers, brokers, investment managers, local insurance companies, financial service companies, medical associations as well as private, individual donors have come together to support the hospital at this time.

We thank you for your support.

Thank you Minister of Health.  It is great news to know that there are no new cases reported today. When Shelter in Place was first enacted, we had hoped, two weeks would be sufficient to achieve our objectives. Regrettably, this is not the case, and we’ve had to extend until May 2. During this period we have been humble enough to listen and flexible enough to recognize that some of the aspects of our previous regulations would need to be revised to help our island get through this next two week period, so that we can be as productive and as healthy as possible. Minister Caines will provide an update on the new regulations for Shelter in Place which will go into force on Monday, and on the activities of Bermuda Police Service and The Bermuda Regiment. Minister Caines.

Minister of National Security’s Statement

Today I will provided an update on the additional businesses that have been added to the category of “permitted business” to operate during the extended Shelter in Place. These amendments come into force on Monday, 20th April 2020. These businesses have significant restrictions placed on them to ensure that they follow the social distancing guidelines.

They include:

  • Roadside sales by a licensed fisherman;
  • Roadside sales by a registered commercial farmer;
  • Laundromats under certain restrictions;
  • Pet shops;
  • Hardware stores (including paint stores);
  • Plant nurseries; and
  • Shipping and freight company including couriers.

As it relates to grocery stores and gas stations,the changes to the alphabet system policy have been made. Instead of two segments it has been expanded to three segments.

Visits to a grocery store or gas station are as follows:

  1. Mondays and Thursdays are for persons whose surnames begin with the letters A to F only;
  2. Tuesdays and Fridays are for persons whose surnames begin with the letters G to Q only;
  3. Wednesdays and Saturdays are for persons whose surnames begin with the letters R to Z only;
  4. Sundays are reserved for:
    • persons aged 55 years and over;
    • disabled persons; and
    • essential services workers and workers not required to work from home.

*These individuals can also shop on their relevant day and on Sundays.

Additionally, pest control operators, are permitted to attend calls to required businesses. These visits are subject to the supervision of the Chief Environmental Health Officer.

Also, those engaged in the wholesale distribution to grocery stores of alcohol and tobacco products can re-stock these businesses. Further amendments will be shared in due course.

Other Shelter in Place updated regulations are as follows:

Laundromats:

Laundromats can only operate with the written permission of the Minister of National Security, and must meet the following conditions:

  1. opening hours of 7am to 7pm, Monday to Friday only;
  2. only one customer is allowed in the laundromat at any one time, and by appointment only;
  3. a wash and fold service may be provided, as long as customers do not enter the premises during the drop-off or collection of their laundry.

Pet Shops:

Pet shops can only operate with the written permission of the Minister of National Security, and must meet the following conditions:

Operate between the hours of 9am to 5pm on Monday to Wednesday only, with:

  1. Mondays are for persons whose surnames begin with the letters A to F only;
  2. Tuesdays are for persons whose surnames begin with the letters G to Q only;
  3. Wednesdays are for persons whose surnames begin with the letters R to Z only.

 

Hardware Stores:

Hardware stores can operate with the written permission of the Minister of National Security under the following conditions:

  1. customers should not enter the store but can have curbside pick-ups only;
  2. collection of pre-paid goods is permitted from 9am to 5pm Monday to Wednesday only as

follows:

  • Mondays – Persons whose surnames begin with the letters A to F only;
  • Tuesdays – Persons whose surnames begin with the letters G to Q only;
  • Wednesdays – Persons whose surnames begin with the letters R to Z only.

Plant Nurseries

Plant Nurseries can operate with the written permission of the Minister of National Security under the following conditions:

  1. customers should not enter the nursery;
  2. collection of pre-paid goods permitted from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Wednesday only, as

follows:

  • Mondays – Persons whose surnames begin with the letters A to F only;
  • Tuesdays – Persons whose surnames begin with the letters G to Q only;
  • Wednesdays – Persons whose surnames begin with the letters R to Z only.

Shipping and Freight Companies

Shipping and freight companies can only operate with the written permission of the Minister of National Security:

  1. Customers should not enter the premises;
  2. Collection of goods allowed from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Wednesday only:
  • Mondays – Persons whose surnames begin with the letters A to F only;
  • Tuesdays – Persons whose surnames begin with the letters G to Q only;
  • Wednesdays – Persons whose surnames begin with the letters R to Z only.

Deliveries:

Deliveries are allowed by persons who have the written permission of the Minister of National Security. This includes taxi drivers.

All delivery operators must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • They should not enter a customer’s home.
  • They must leave the goods outside the customer’s door; and call to let the customer know the delivery has been made.
  • They must wear the appropriate protective equipment and follow the hand sanitizing guidance from the Ministry of Health.

Again, these amendments take effect Monday, 20th April 2020.

Thank you Minister Caines.

The Attorney General Statement 

Good Evening Bermuda

In this time of profound uncertainty, community welfare agencies face unprecedented challenges to ensure the safety, well being, and permanency for our vulnerable citizens and their families. The Government of Bermuda understands the stress that many families have to bear while we shelter in place. We remain grateful for our third sector and charities who provide protection, accommodation, and support for our families and vulnerable members of the community.

As the public health crisis persists, we must critically assess and safeguard the needs and rights of minor children and their parents who are the subject of Court-ordered arrangements. In particular, the existing law under Regulation 3(3) of the Emergency Powers (Covid-19 Shelter In Place) Regulations 2020 provides that for the avoidance of doubt, a minor child of parents who do not live together shall remain at the home where the child is living at the commencement of these Regulations cease to have effect. This provision has given rise to practical challenges for some parents who fall within this category.

As the Government continues to be responsive to the needs and concerns of all its citizens, I can report this evening that the Ministry of Legal Affairs in consultation with the Judiciary, we are in the process of considering amendments to the Regulations to address practical issues that have arisen for parents who share parental responsibility for minor children, and who do not live in the same home as the state of emergency and its accompanying restrictions has been extended. More information will be shared early next week.

During the month of April, the Ministry commemorates several observances. This month we would typically focus awareness of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention, and the International Week of the Young Child. While we have not had the opportunity to recognize these observances, I wish to thank our community partners for their unwavering support. We appreciate the services of the Centre Against Abuse, SCARS, the Coalition for the Protection of Children, the Family Centre and other charities who work with us to assist our most vulnerable citizens.

We know that during this extended Shelter in Place period, children in abusive situations may be more susceptible to incidences of sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect as they remain in their homes.

Should anyone in the community have concerns about the welfare of a child, please contact the Department of Child and Family Services on-call social worker on 332-0091 or the on-call supervisor on 335-9095. If it is an emergency, please call 911.

Since March 24, the Department of Child and Family Services has received 18 new referrals, requiring investigation. There have been 10 children exposed to domestic or family violence; 1 child in moral danger which means that the child has been exposed to unsafe behaviors such as drug trafficking, prostitution, theft, criminal behavior and/or individuals engaged in active abuse of illegal substances; 1 lack report of supervision of a child; 2 child on child sexual abuse; 2 children physical abuse, and 2 referrals for parents abusing substances. Investigations are underway, and DCFS workers are making contact with the parents to ensure that safety plans are in place.

During this period of sheltering in place, all DCFS staff have been supporting clients weekly via video conferencing and telephone calls. DCFS has assisted in providing groceries and medication supplies to families and linking families to community resources such as the Eliza Doolittle, The Loren/BNTB initiative, Women’s Resource Center and the Coalition for the Protection of Children. Clients are given information on how to talk to their children about COVID-19. In addition to activities that they can do with their children. The Foster Parent Association is also gearing itself to assist foster parents who may be struggling through this period.

The Department of Child and Family Services will continue to work closely with third sector partners, as well as public health partners to respond to any calls for assistance.

The public is reminded that domestic violence that involves adults-only is referred to the Centre Against Abuse and or the Bermuda Police Service.

Since March 30 the Centre Against Abuse has reported that they answered over 34 calls on their hotline; worked with five clients to complete filing six Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs); and assisted four families with safe shelters.

Between March 23 and April 13, 2020, the Courts have issued 13 Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVOPs). The public is reminded that the Centre Against Abuse operates a 24/7 hotline for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. The Centre’s hotline line numbers are 297-8278 and 292-4366.

We share the concerns of the Centre Against Abuse and note that there are persons in our community, who are in abusive situations, but are not ready to take the step of leaving their abusers. In such situations, the Centre of Abuse recommends the following safety tips:

  • Be very aware of your partner’s mood, and when you see it changing for the worse, if you can, get out of the house to a safe space
  • Identify safe spaces in your home, that you can go to should an argument break out:
    • Rooms with windows and doors
    • Spaces without weapons, such as knives, bottles, etc
  • If violence is unavoidable, and you are stuck and cannot escape, crouch right down on the floor and curl up into a small ball on the floor with your face towards the floor and protected and your hands over your head and your elbows covering the sides of your face
  • If possible, always keep your phone on you so you can call 911
  • Ask a neighbor to call 911 should they hear anything from your home
  • Ask your children to call 911 should they hear or see any abuse
  • Set up a secret code word like ”RONA” with a close friend or family member that you can send to them, so they know that it means to call 911 for you
  • Teach your children to get out of the house safely
  • If you can, reach out and talk to trusted family and friends to release your stress
  • You can search safely online for counselling assistance with CAA via info@centreagainstabuse.bm

To every woman, child and man, it is important to note that nothing that a victim does, deserves any abuse from an abuser.

We encourage anyone in the community in need of assistance to review the Third Sector Crisis Response Essential Services Contact sheet which provides a list of available help and support resources at www.gov.bm/coronavirus-resources.

In closing, we urge you to stay informed and vigilant. Do not live in an abusive situation. There is help available as previously stated, please reach out to us.

 

Thank you Attorney General.

I’ve been informed that at the beginning of this broadcast that some persons did not receive all of the information. So I’m going to briefly recap some of the stuff that I said at the beginning because it’s important information that all persons needs to know, and then we will move on to questions.

Parliament today voted to continue Shelter in Place regulations, until 6am, on May, 2, and for the State of Emergency orders to be maintained until June 30. Some may have interpreted this to mean that we intend to remain Sheltered in Place until the end of June. That is not the case, and let that rumor die tonight.

We have every hope and expectation that we could emerge from Shelter in Place on May 2, and the best way to ensure that happens is for people to only leave their houses for essentials, and maintain proper social distancing when you do. We are however in uncertain times, and the Government needs to have the flexibility to quickly enact restrictions that may be necessary to control the spread of this virus. Under our existing laws, the only way that we can have the appropriate protections to prevent the spread of this virus is via a State of Emergency. It is imperfect, and I do not like it. To remedy this, we will be bringing forward legislation to allow this, and any future, Government to implement appropriate measures to manage a pandemic without the need to declare a State of Emergency.

Once this amended law is drafted, passes both houses of the Legislature and receives its assent from the Governor, the Cabinet will ask for the State of Emergency, to be revoked as the new laws will give the Government, the necessary tools, in the case of a pandemic.

Bermuda we’ve come through to the first two weeks of Shelter in Place, a sacrifice that we have all made, and the challenge, we all have had to overcome. What is most important is that we have shown that we can do this, and we can get through this next two weeks. To those of us who have followed the guidelines and stayed at home, I am truly grateful.

For our people who have lost their jobs, due to this virus, many of you have already received help from the Government. For those of you who have not yet received the help you need, we are adding more resources and manpower to get those funds to you as quickly as possible. It is not your fault that you are in this position, and we will continue to do all that we can as quickly as we can to support you. We cannot, and will not allow bureaucracy and red tape to get in the way, when there are people who may be hungry. We have had companies, charities, and members of our community giving generously and helping to feed people in need during this crisis, and for that I am grateful.

Sadly, there are those who are hoping that we will devolve into political tribalism, devolve into the regular he said, she said, nitpicking, name calling, and political games. To them I say simply cool out. When this is over, when our people are healthy and safe fed and employed. Maybe then you can go back to business as usual.

But it is my sincere hope that after this period of crisis has passed, we all will have grown, and we all will have evolved, and we would have been ready to put politics as usual aside. People have died. People are fighting to restore their health, this very minute, and we fear that many more of our friends, our neighbors and our coworkers, and our family members may also be impacted by this virus.

To us, keeping them healthy, protecting our families and staying focused on the job at hand is more important than politics as usual. We would not turn on each other during a hurricane, so it is important that we do not do this now. Earlier today, in the sitting of the House of Assembly, I pledged to be the best bipartisan Premier that I can be, as the most important thing that this country requires right now is unity. For us, this must be the time for unity of purpose, unity of vision and unity of spirit. And with that, we will all get through this.

Thank you, and I’m happy to take any questions that you may have.

 

 

Premier Burt’s Press Conference – April 16th 2020

Press Conference Update – April 16 2020

Good evening Bermuda.

I will start this evening by speaking directly to the families who have lost loved ones in recent weeks to COVID-19 and to those who have contracted the virus and are fighting to overcome it. The thoughts and prayers of our island are with you as you grieve for your loved one. As a Government we will continue to work hard to manage the spread and reduce the impact of this disease. For those who have contracted and are battling the virus we send you well wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

Today, we will have an update from the Minister of Health on matters related to COVID-19, the Minister of National Security on matters related to our current Shelter in Place, and the Minister of Education will give an update on the work being done in his Ministry to continue the learning process for our children.

Minister of Healths statement.

Thank you, Premier.

I want to begin my remarks today by reminding everyone that the future health of Bermuda is in our hands. While we cannot fully predict what will happen regarding transmission in our community, our actions today will determine whether we succeed or fail in our fight against COVID-19.

Before saying more about what we can all do in our collective fight against COVID-19, I will present today’s update on testing results.

Today, there were 35 test results received; two were positive and 33 were negative. Thankfully, there were no additional hospitalizations, and there were no reported deaths today.

With these 2 new cases, Bermuda’s total confirmed positive cases is now 83. Their status is as follows:

  • there are 43 active cases, of which
  • 34 persons are under active public health monitoring, and
  • 9 persons are hospitalized;
  • a total of 35 have now recovered, and
  • the total deceased remains at 5.

The average age of all of our confirmed positive cases is 56. The median age is 58, and the age range of all of our positive cases is from 18 to 91 years. The age of persons hospitalized ranges between 67 and 82 years, and the average age is 74.

Out of the 83 positive cases confirmed to date, 37 are males, and 46 are females.

As a follow up to developments at the nursing home facility we spoke about yesterday, the Ministry of Health staff is implementing an outbreak management plan in collaboration with the Board of Directors of the nursing facility. This plan includes providing additional necessary PPE, instructions on use, assuring adequate nursing care and medical oversight of residents and staff.

I can confirm that the legislation governing the regulation of care homes has now been amended to prohibit staff from working at multiple facilities when the Chief Medical Officers determines there is a risk of spreading a communicable disease. We are fully conscious of the challenges associated with this measure, but it is necessary right now to save lives.

I have to extend a very special thanks to the staff who are bravely and selflessly taking care of residents at our care home facilities. Theirs is a courageous sacrifice the country must recognize and salute. It is frontline workers like them who are the heroes in this crisis.

Knowing how vulnerable seniors and other at risk populations are with respect to this pandemic, I have to remind us that we are all being called upon to do the right thing for others. Collectively, we have a responsibility to work together to stop the spread of this virus and keep our island safe, especially for those in our community who are the most vulnerable.

Staying in our homes is indeed an interruption to our lifestyles, but more importantly, it is an interruption to the transmission of the virus.

Another way to help slow the spread of COVID-19 is the use of cloth face coverings.

As I have said previously, the Ministry of Health recommends wearing cloth face coverings in any public setting in addition to other social distancing measures. For example: grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies.

A simple cloth face covering can also help prevent people who may not know that they have the virus, from transmitting it to others.

We are encouraged that many people are making cloth face coverings at home, which is not costly and can be used as an additional, voluntary health measure. Thank you to everyone in our community who is making homemade face coverings. I have seen a wide variety of attractive and well-made face coverings; this is another way that we are working together to protect Bermuda from the transmission of COVID-19.

Instructions on how to make cloth face coverings can be found on coronavirus.gov.bm.

In closing; continue social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene and always wear a mask in public places. Individuals who have respiratory symptoms or other symptoms they think may be related to COVID-19 should be in contact by telephone with their family physician for advice and management.

They should remain isolated in their homes from others as best possible until medical and or public health advice confirm they can end isolation period

I strongly encourage everyone to please abide by the Shelter in Place guidelines – take this seriously. We are all responsible for our actions and we must follow the public health advice to stay in our homes, to stay safe . . . this is what will make the biggest difference for our survival as a community.

Thank you Minister.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has listened to or medical experts, taken lessons from countries that have been successful in flattening the curve, and work swiftly to protect the people who have become challenged economically. We have listened to, and when necessary adapted to changing circumstances, implemented recommendations from those of all walks of life that truly and deeply care about Bermuda.

Tomorrow, Bermuda’s parliament will meet for the first time in history in a virtual meeting via WebEx, an internet based video conferencing app. This will enable the people’s business to be conducted while still maintaining adhering to Shelter in Place, and social distancing guidelines. I would like to thank the Speaker of the House, his staff at the Legislature, and also the team at the Department of Information and Digital Technologies for working to get this ready for tomorrow, so that we will be able to remain safe while conducting the people’s business.

Tomorrow’s meeting is necessary, as the approval of Parliament is required to extend our state of emergency. What is important to note, is that though we predict that the Shelter in Place will end on May 2, there will be a need to continue some form of restrictions for the foreseeable future. In other countries they do not need to declare a State of Emergency to restrict movement during a public health crisis, but in Bermuda, this is the only way to do so.

The public health modeling that we currently have predicts that we will need to have strict social distancing for the foreseeable future. So the Cabinet has resolved that we must make amendments to the laws that will allow any government in the future to implement appropriate measures, in the case of a future public health emergency, such as the one we’re experiencing right now, without the need to have to declare a State of Emergency.

This evening, we wanted to detail the full changes that are going to be put in place for next week’s Shelter in Place. However, these changes have not yet been completed legislatively, and we do not want there to be any confusion between what is said here, and what is reflected fully in the law. So we’re going to wait to make sure that we can read from the newly updated law so that everyone will have a full and complete update tomorrow.

But, as I have indicated over the last few days, there will be some changes. All the changes that are being made, are in line with social distancing. The purpose of the Shelter in Place Order is to minimise the interactions between persons in different households to minimize transmission that could spread this outbreak further than what it is spread already. However, recognizing that it has been extended for two weeks, and certain persons may not have been ready to be sheltered in place for a full four weeks, there are going to be some additional businesses that will be allowed to be open.

There will be limited allowances for hardware stores, as we want persons who are at home, and want to make sure they can have the opportunity to make any upgrades to their house and make use the time. Plant nurseries, in case you want to plant some items in your garden or start  to help us to better enhance our food security in Bermuda.

There will be limited allowances for pet stores as well, as we recognize certain persons may have only had allowances for two weeks of pet food, and we want to make sure that our pets are taken care of. And certainly, as I’ve mentioned before laundromats, as it is important, and recognizing that not all persons in Bermuda aur privileged to have a washer and dryer in their house, and we’re going to make sure that we can find a way that minimizes the risk but allows persons to have access to those particular services.

Additionally, as we’re looking to promote delivery services on island, the Minister of National Security is also drafting up guidelines to enhance the use or expand the use of Bermuda’s taxis, to help enhance delivery services which are taking place on island right now. Many of our taxi drivers have subscribed to the unemployment benefit, as clearly there is a minimal amount of movement that’s allowed by taxi drivers, and this is a move to allow some economic activity for those taxi drivers, while making sure that we continue to maintain our social distancing.

As I had said, Minister Caines will be giving a full update tomorrow on those particular guidelines, but right now Minister Caines will give an update on the Ministry of National Security. Minister.

Minister of National Security  statement

We continue to see an increase of individuals who are moving about before 7.00 am. This is concerning. I think it’s important to remind the public that under the Shelter in Place guidelines, persons are only allowed to move about for legitimate reasons between the hours of 7.00 am and 7.00 pm.

As a note, we are taking a closer look at the current grocery store last name policy to see how this can be more effective and balanced. We are looking at including three segments instead of the two segments that we currently have. We believe that this will alleviate some of the long lines that we are seeing at our grocery stores. We will be making the necessary legislative changes and will provide an update to the public accordingly.

The Ministry of National Security continues to work legislatively on a process to for persons to have their Curfew Exemptions extended until May 2, without the requirement to re-apply. Once this is formally in place, the public will be updated.

The Royal Bermuda Regiment continue their deployment across the island providing support in a variety of capacities.

In partnership with the BPS the Community Advisory Points recorded a total of 11,165 stops over a 24-hour period (April 14 – 15). Of these 53 were advised to return home.

The RBR is reminding the public to please have their identification on hand in order to avoid delays at the check points.

Minister Caines also advised that the BPS marine officers and Bermuda Coast Guard continue to maintain a daily presence on the waters.

However, the Minister expressed his concern that “we are seeing an increase of unauthorized pleasure crafts on the water.”

“Bermuda, the Shelter in Place guidelines extends to our surrounding waters, yesterday, the unit continued to observe individuals fishing at various locations and using the beaches and parks. Again – we are reminding you that any vessel or individual that is not authorized to be on the water will be redirected home and in many cases dealt with by the Bermuda Police Service.

With more people at home during this Shelter in Place period, the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service is issuing a timely fire safety advisory. We recognize that during this time residents are using the opportunity to clean their properties of unwanted horticultural waste, garden clippings and lawn waste. Residents are reminded that they are only allowed to burn horticultural waste. You should not be burning trash such as lumber, plastics or furniture, either on the ground or in a barrel. So we are taking this opportunity to remind you of the correct procedures for burning horticultural waste on your property.

Residents should note:

  1. Before starting a controlled burn you should notify the BFRS Dispatch on 296-7559 and give the following information:

·         Name

·         Address

·         Contact Number

·         Approximate Duration of the Controlled Burn

  1. Ensure that the area where the burning is going to take place is a minimum of ten (10) feet away from any buildings, trees or other combustible materials.
  1. A garden hose or other means of completely extinguishing the controlled burn should be readily available.
  1. The controlled burn should constantly monitored; and
  1. Upon completion, the controlled burn should be fully extinguished and the BFRS Dispatch notified.

If at any time during the controlled burn the smoke becomes a nuisance to neighbors the fire must be extinguished immediately.

For more information about controlled burning please contact the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service Fire Prevention Division at fireportection@gov.bm or 292-5555.

Thank you very much Minister Caines.

Minister, I would just like to add to your statements, and just say that I took note that further reports of panic buying today, especially in the areas of tobacco and alcohol, due to some headlines in local media. The Government is not banning alcohol and tobacco sales tomorrow as some persons have reported, so there is no need to rush to the store. I cannot emphasize enough that there is no need to panic buy any items as we’re going to ensure that supply happens.

Yesterday, I indicated that we will allow the limited restocking of these particular items in our stores and the Minister of National Security and the amendments that are being made to Emergency Powers Regulations will allow for that to happen. As this Government sees these that must be addressed, we will always look at issues carefully, and if we need to make a different decision, while maintaining the health and wellbeing of Bermudians, we will.

I cannot stress that an overwhelming majority of our people are putting Bermuda first by following the rules, sheltering in place, and maintaining social distance. Yet, there are those who continue to act in undisciplined, reckless and thoughtless manner, as was just stated by the Minister of National Security. For them, the only solution will be facing the consequences before the courts of Bermuda, and that is not something, of which we want to do. So if you do not care about anyone else, I hope that you at least pause, as a thought of paying thousands of dollars in fines or potentially finding yourself behind bars.

Given that we are dealing with people’s lives, the Government is not playing in this particular situation, and we are urging the Bermuda Police Service to continue to enforce the law as it is written.

I would like to thank you and your team at the Ministry, the Department, Bermuda’s principals, educators, and paraprofessionals, not just the Premier but also as a father.  My daughter is enjoying her experience learning online and I’m grateful that in spite of this pandemic she, like so many of our children across the island, has the opportunity to engage in learning.

I am very pleased to share some good news with you. In a press release that was issued a few hours ago, Athene announced this afternoon that it led a joint effort of companies to fund the purchase of eight life-assisting ventilators for the Bermuda Hospitals Board. Together, the companies donated more than $400,000 to fund the purchase of equipment that is critical to patient health, especially during this pandemic.

The joint effort led by Athene is being made possible by the additional support of several other Bermuda-based companies, including Athora Holding Ltd., Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd., and Catalina Holdings Ltd.  Widespread shortages of essential medical equipment have created a challenge for the hospital. The Bermuda Hospitals Board identified that there was a need for these additional ventilators and this group of companies responded.

Athene, speaking on behalf of all the supporting companies in this joint effort, said that it is an honor to give back to the community and also expressed how grateful they are and supportive of the healthcare professionals on the frontlines treating patients during this extraordinary time.

On behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda, I extend a sincere appreciation for the generosity of these companies who have paid for these life-saving ventilators.

As we entered 2020, no one could have predicted or imagined that we would be confronting the global emergency we are facing today.  The world has been forced to change and so we have been forced to change.  It has been said that the true character of a people is not revealed during times of prosperity and happiness, but during times of crisis and woe.

We are pulling together as a people. Our healthcare professionals on the front line working tirelessly with those suffering from COVID-19 and treating them with dignity and compassion.  I must also add the professional and technical staff at the Mid Atlantic Wellness Institute. They continue to play a vital role for those who need on-going and additional mental health support. Whether it is our bus drivers and members of the community working to ensure that our healthcare professionals don’t have to worry about how they will get to work.

Our teachers, many carrying the burden without complaint or reluctance as they educate our children while caring for their own.  Our dock workers, truck drivers, grocery, pharmacy and gas station workers, helping to keep us fed and the medicine we need on our shelves.

The security guards who are working at the various stores to make sure that social distancing rules are being followed. There are so many that are working without recognition, quietly behind the scenes to get us all through this difficult time, and to them, I say thank you.

Finally tonight, I extend my warmest thanks to the members of my Cabinet.  While I, the Minister of Health and the Minister of National Security have been before the cameras throughout this national emergency, every single member of Cabinet is working hard and doing their part to insure that the government continues to function, continues to listen, and continues to adapt to the swiftly changing circumstances our island faces. I say thank you to them.