COVID19 Update – May 25th Press Conference

Bermuda Government COVID-19 Update

 

 

Good afternoon Bermuda!

While Phase two is progressing, it is important that each of us are doing our part, following the rules and holding each other accountable. I am troubled to see people not wearing masks while they are not engaging in physical distancing, and businesses not adhering to the necessary protocols.

Getting used to what can and cannot be done during Phase 2 will take some getting used to, and mistakes will be made – but quite simply there is no excuse for some of the reckless behavior I have seen. There are examples of countries that began to give their people the opportunity to return to work, people stopped acting responsibly and Covid-19 cases increased.

Bermuda will NOT be one of those countries. To that end, I have directed the Minster of National Security & the Minister of Health that we will be adopting a zero tolerance approach with regards to enforcement of the rules for phase 2. Businesses that are not following the guidelines, will be closed. It’s that simple!

Most of us are doing the right thing. Most of us are following the rules and most of us are doing their part towards moving us closer to a day when more of our people can safely return to work and provide for their families.

But we can do better, as it only takes 1 asymptomatic super-spreader to set us back. That person could by your friend who had a party where it was too hot to wear a mask. But you were signing and having a good time and now you are at risk. Our collective job is to minimize transmission – and that means that we must all have our guard up!

Before we continue with updates from the Minister of Health and the Minister of National Security, I would like to address a matter that has arisen over the weekend on social media and across the community. The reopening of the airport and our borders to travelers.

Let me be particularly clear on this matter. The airport reopening is one that we are watching very carefully and preparing for very carefully. The return of regularly scheduled commercial traffic is currently listed in Phase Four of our plan to safely bring our country to a place where people can return to work and provide for their families.

While we are exploring measures involving a combination of quarantine, testing, contact tracing technology and enforcement that will enable us to develop a plan around what traveling to Bermuda will look like, we are not there yet. We will not be opening the airport to regular scheduled air travel until we are absolutely certain that we not only have means to protect our community, but that we are absolutely safe to do so.

Now, I will ask the Minister of Health to provide an update on COVID-19 and the work of the Ministry of Health

MINISTER OF HEALTH STATEMENT

Between Sunday and today there were 241 test results received by the Ministry of Health; and none were positive for COVID-19.

Bermuda has 133 total confirmed positive cases. Their status is as follows:

  • there are 35 active cases, of which
  • 28 persons are under active public health monitoring, and
  • 7 persons are hospitalized; of which
  • 2 are in critical care;
  • a total of 89 have now recovered, and
  • the total deceased remains 9.

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

The average age of persons hospitalized is 79 and their age ranges from 70 to 91 years.

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

The source of all local cases is as follows:

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

Bermuda’s country status remains “Local Transmission – Cluster of Cases”.

Staying physically active is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy, which is particularly important during a pandemic like COVID-19. Under Phase 2 of Bermuda’s reopening, people can now visit parks, trails, and open spaces as a way to relieve stress, get some fresh air and vitamin D, stay active, and safely connect with others.

But, as we prepare to head into the holiday weekend, I want to give some guidance regarding how to safelyenjoy our beaches and parks this weekend.

The Ministry of Health recommends that you visit parks and beaches that are close to your home. This diminishes the risk of lots of people making their way to the same beach or park. And, as we know, the more people, the higher the risk for COVID-19 spread.

Play it safe by keeping space (at least six feet) between yourself and others. So don’t visit crowded beaches or parks where you cannot stay at least six feet away from others at all times.

And it situations where you have to be in closer proximity to others, wear a mask and stay three feet apart from people who are not members of your household. This will make it safe for all concerned.

Practice everyday steps such as washing hands often and covering coughs and sneezes. Bring hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to use if soap and water are not available.

Prepare before you visit by, for example, ensuring restrooms are accessible.

Avoid gathering with others beyond your household, if you can…or keep you ‘social bubbles’ small and limited to only a few individuals.

Don’t share private hot tubs with persons other than your household; and don’t use water playgrounds as they are often crowded and could easily exceed recommended guidance for gatherings.

Don’t participate in contact sports; remember that groups of 10 or more are prohibited. These typically require people who are not from the same household or living unit to be in close proximity, increasing their potential for exposure to COVID-19.

The use of playgrounds and outdoor gym equipment in our public parks is permitted. However, anyone using this equipment should sanitize it prior to public use.

And, finally, don’t visit parks or beaches if you are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19.

This guidance can be found on the Government website at coronavirus.gov.bm.

In sum, I would like to encourage everyone to please use common sense in the coming days and weeks. As the weather heats up, the temptation might be there to socialize with others in larger groups. But please…don’t.

Think before you commit to a social plan. Think: Is this safe? Am I being responsible? Is this plan putting me or anyone else at risk? If you hesitate for even a moment in answering these questions, then please, don’t do it.

Remember – the more interactions you have with others and the more you are out and about, the more at risk you put yourself and those in your household.

I know it can feel awkward to refrain from greeting someone with a hug or a handshake…but, it is in fact a sign that you respect that person’s health by not entering into their personal space and putting them and their loved ones at risk. We can still be our friendly Bermudian selves.

Remember, people who share an environment with someone who’s infected are at some risk for infection themselves. And an example of a shared environment is an office or even a restaurant, if you’re close enough to the person.

That is why we have to stay masked if we are going to be within three to six feet of other persons for more than 15 minutes. Six feet is the closest you can be without a mask. Three feet is safe if you are wearing a mask. And only get closer than three feet if you are both masked and it is absolutely necessary.

And, finally, I want to repeat my call to those with family members in the hospital who are medically fit for discharge to please work with the hospital to arrange a more appropriate care setting for your loved ones. Every hospital bed is needed for this national crisis right now. Do not put your family at risk by prolonging a hospital stay unnecessarily. Bermuda and our healthcare workers will thank you for doing the right thing.

Thank you Minister.

Obeying the rules and enforcing those rules are key to us moving forward and out of Phase 2. The Ministry of National Security, the Bermuda Police Service and the Royal Bermuda Regiment were on our streets and out in the community this weekend doing their part to enforce the law and protect our community. The Minister of National Security will now provide an update on the work of his team over the weekend.

MINISTER OF NATIONAL SECURITY STATEMENT (Abridged)

“Over the coming holiday weekend the Coast Guard will be actively enforcing the Covid-19 Regulations.  “This past weekend, the Coast Guard engaged with 339 vessels, issued 32 warnings, 27 of which were for the curfew violations.

“Some of the boating public are blurring the definition of “rafting up” – physical distancing between boats and people in the water has definitely been lacking.

“Again we are urging recreational boaters to please observe the health guidelines in place to ensure the safety of yourself and others.

“The RBR have been making visits to restaurants and retail areas. Over the coming holiday weekend the Coast Guard will be actively enforcing the Covid-19 Regulations.”

Thank you Minister

As the world is changing, we will have to change as well. Beyond physical distancing and wearing masks, business models will change, and the approach to providing goods and services to people will have to change as well. On top of that, each of us will need to invest in ourselves, developing new skills and acquiring new knowledge to enhance our ability to compete for jobs and opportunities.

The world saw a steady and relentless move away from brick and mortar businesses before COVID-19 and a steady march away from unskilled and low skilled labour towards technology. This pandemic has accelerated the need for businesses to be responsive, customer driven and innovative and accelerated the need for each of us to personally and professionally evolve.

Those who are slow to change, those who are fearful of change, those too arrogant to accept that they need to change, will find the coming months and years challenging.

Change can be scary.

Change can mean being forced out of your comfort zone.

But change can also mean new opportunities.

Opportunities for new businesses to start. Opportunities for individuals to create services that may never have existed before.

Opportunities to reinvent yourself and enter new careers or advance in your current one.

Take for example Mr. Nicko Albouy, operator of Advanced Air, who today announced a new dry-steam cleaning service – to aid businesses disinfecting their establishments.

Or Mr. Quincy Jones of Quality Air, who is installing ultraviolet light filters for air conditioning systems that will kill pathogens in the air.

This is what Bermuda needs more of, entrepreneurs who will assist the country in ensuring that we safely navigate the future.

If you have a business idea and need help getting it started please contact the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation. This Government and its agencies will support your idea if it is a good one.

As a government, we know that we are not exempt from change. Whether it is our MPs and Ministers leading from the front by taking a pay cut or innovating government making it more responsive, more effective and more efficient.

We know we have to change. We know we have to evolve and with the help of our public officers we have become more responsive, more effective and more efficient in the delivery of services to our community.

As we recognise that we cannot and should not shape reform and change alone, we have reached out to you for ideas and feedback and you have responded.

We have seen the suggestions pouring in via the online government forum…ideas that are inclusive….ideas that change the status quo for the better, and ideas that will grow and evolve Bermuda for the better are beginning to capture the imagination of our people. You still have time to submit your idea – please visit forum.gov.bm and share your thoughts.

As we have effectively managed the health crisis caused by COVID-19 we must be equally as effective in managing the economic crisis facing our community. Alongside the Economic Advisory Committee established by the Finance Minister, my focus as leader of our country has shifted towards the reinvention of our economy.

As we have broken down obstacles to small businesses obtaining capital and we have opened up Government contracts so that more businesses owned by black Bermudians, women and others who have traditionally been excluded, we will continue the work to create new opportunities for Bermudian entrepreneurs and business owners.

As we have given more Bermudians access to higher education through increased investment in educational grants and scholarships – will we give more Bermudians more opportunities to obtain the skills, certification or degrees needed to not only become more competitive in our economy but to be leaders in our economy.

This new spirit that we are seeing in our country; optimism, creativity and innovation has been matched by a new spirit of camaraderie, a new spirit of national unity, and behaviour that embodies the old adage of being our brother and sisters’ keeper. Bermuda we have done well and we have done well together.

Let us continue to support each other, encourage each other, lean on each other and uplift each other as one people with shared goals; keeping our community safe, getting our community safely back to work and dealing with each other kindly, compassionately and generously.