Bermuda Government COVID-19 Update June 22 2020
Good evening Bermuda.
I trust that all fathers had a wonderful Father’s Day weekend.
Today we will cover a number of topics ranging from the latest COVID-19 testing results; an update from the Ministry of Health, to the strategy at the LF Wade International Airport to protect workers, passengers and our community as we safely reopen our borders and put our people back to work.
Today, I am joined by the Minister of Health, Minister Kim Wilson, the President of Skyport, Mr. Aaron Adderley and the Minister of National Security, the Hon. Wayne Caines is here to answer questions from the media.
Before the Minister of Health provides her updates, I’d like to take a moment to address the recent incidents of violence, which should disturb all of us, and that community-minded Bermudians find repugnant and universally condemned.
We have emerged from a weekend marred by horrific acts of violence committed against a female by a group of males. It is not surprising that many are wrestling with the question of how we can better live in peace with each other on our small island of Bermuda. The violence we see is a symptom of a deeper problem within our society. Whether it is the racial imbalance in employment and opportunities, or the racial disparities in wages and life outcomes, the ongoing cycle of violence is a manifestation of hundreds of years of abuse and trauma.
Too many of our young men feel disconnected and disenchanted within our society. And around the world, it has been proven that those who do not see a place for themselves, or a value from society will, in many cases, not care if their actions, destroy that society.
Words do matter, but only to an extent. Continued community action is needed to make our young black men feel valued and included. Action that creates opportunities for achievement, validation, and positive transformation will help bring our disaffected, and disenchanted youth back into the bosom of a loving, caring and inclusive Bermuda. I am grateful to everyone who continues the work to make this a reality. The government will continue to support those actions, and I know that the Minister of National Security will continue the work in this sphere to tackle the root causes, which are manifesting in this abhorrent violence.
Now, we’ll hear from the Minister of Health, on the latest COVID-19 test results and other pressing matters as our ministry keeps for you to safe from the novel coronavirus.
MINISTER OF HEALTH STATEMENT
Between Sunday and today there were an amazing 336 test results received by the Ministry of Health; and none were positive for COVID-19. That is excellent news for all of us.
I’m thankful to the whole community for practicing the necessary preventive measures like wearing a mask and washing your hands. These are the things we need to keep doing to control and contain COVID in Bermuda.
Bermuda has 146 total confirmed positive cases. Their status is as follows:
- there are 5 active cases, of which
- 4 are under active public health monitoring, and
- 1 is hospitalized;
- none is in critical care.
- A total of 132 have recovered, and
- the total deceased remains 9.
The average age of all of our confirmed positive cases is 60 and the age range of all of our positive cases is from 18 to 101 years.
Overall, 57% of all cases are Black, 40% are white and 3% are other or unknown.
The source of all local cases is as follows:
- 42 are Imported
- 85 are Local transmission, with known contact
- 12 are Local transmission with an unknown contact, and
- 7 are under investigation
I’m delighted to report that as of moments ago, PAHO’s designation of Bermuda’s country status has been improved “Sporadic Cases”. The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is below 1.
Our reopening scorecard has been updated today and our status has improved with our new WHO designation. In addition, I’m happy to report that over 8,200 people have registered on HealthIQ, getting us closer to the 10,000 mark. The more people reporting on their status, mask wearing and physical distancing, the stronger our position will be as we approach phase 4.
I can share with you that, as of today, summer camps will now register online to provide the Ministry of Health and the Department of Youth and Sport, information about their staff, children and the programme they run. This information will be critical for infection control as well as quality control of camps in the future.
While these settings are not formally regulated, parents can be assured that if the camp name appears on our registration list, there will be monitoring to ensure compliance with health guidelines.
Camps will now be able to begin the registration process on the schools, child care and camp webpage on the Government portal and parents will be able to visit the list of registered camps on the same page by the end of the week.
I now want to draw your attention to some of our Phase 3 and 3B Guidance and Directions which have been recently created and posted to the Government website: coronavirus.gov.bm.
In particular, I want to go over some of the points from the Indoor Dining Directions.
Now that we are a couple of weeks into Phase 3, some of you may have already had the opportunity to go out for a meal. You may have found certain things unfamiliar or even odd. For those who have not yet experienced indoor dining post-shelter in place, here are a few things you should be prepared to see and experience:
Firstly, booking ahead is highly recommended, while walk-in’s will be recorded and regulated.
You will notice that all staff members will be wearing masks at all times. As a guest, you must wear a face mask whilst waiting to be seated and at all other times when not at your table. To protect your server and other restaurant staff, you should also wear your mask when interacting with them.
Remember that the droplets that spread COVID don’t disappear when you sit down. If you are speaking to someone within 6 feet of you, wear your mask.
Physical distancing of at least 6 feet (2 metres) must be maintained during any waiting or queuing and you must use the hand sanitizers provided before entering the establishment.
You will be greeted at the door by a dedicated staff member and only granted access if safe to do so while adhering to physical distancing. This will be particularly important at establishments with narrow entrances. In particular you will not be allowed to enter when others are leaving in order to avoid close contact.
Businesses are recommended to monitor the health of staff and diners; therefore your temperature may be taken and recorded. Managers will also have the right to remove guests who show other signs of COVD-19 (like coughing or sweating) at their discretion.
Dining establishments have systems in place to ensure adequate physical distancing within restrooms; this may, in many instances, allow for only one person to use the restroom at any given time. Please be prepared for this. Restaurants must enforce this so please don’t give staff a hard time if they do. They are only following the rules and trying to keep you safe.
Contact Tracing is an essential part of combatting any outbreak of communicable disease. Therefore the contact details of one ‘primary diner’ will be recorded and include the date and time of visit, full name, address, phone number and email address.
There will be a mandatory space of 6 feet between tables or physical barriers in place when 6 feet is not reasonably practicable.
A few other things that have changed are:
- The menu may look different than it used to; we are asking restaurants to provide you with single use, washable or digital menus.
- There will be no direct service at bars.
- There will be no self-serve salad or buffet bars. Food must only be served by the chef, instead of self-service buffets.
- Packaged cutlery and single use condiments can be provided to you, if you like.
- E-receipts will be offered in place of paper ones.
- Napkin service is suspended until further notice (i.e. no placing in a guest’s lap).
This guidance and many others can be found on the Government website coronavirus.gov.bm.
As closing, I want to remind the public of the COVID-19 pop-up testing taking place around the island this week:
On Wednesday June 24th testing will take place at the Hamilton Cathedral from 11:30am until 2pm and again from 4pm until 7pm. There will also be pop-up testing at the Heron Bay MarketPlace on Wednesday from 3pm until 7pm.
On Thursday June 25th there will be testing at the Southside Facility (at the old Whites Supermarket location) from 10am until 7pm and at the Shelly Bay MarketPlace from 3pm until 7pm.
On Friday June 26th pop-up testing will take place at the Hamilton Cathedral from 9am until 1pm and at the Somerset MarketPlace from 3pm until 7pm.
At Thursday’s press conference, I will give a reminder about the locations for weekend testing.
In order to ensure that wait times at pop-up testing venues are as minimal as possible, I would encourage residents wishing to get tested, to please ideally book an appointment. This makes it a faster, more convenient experience for you.
You can book online via the government website coronavirus.gov.bm or call the COVID-19 hotline 444-2498 between 9am and 9pm to make a reservation. A full schedule of testing days and times has been posted to the Government website.
For more information about pop-up testing, you can call 444-2498.
Thank You, Bermuda, and, please, wear your mask and keep six feet apart if you are not wearing one.
Thank you very much, Minister of Health, and it is great certainly to hear inside of your update today that Bermuda’s status has been upgraded by the World Health Organization to Sporadic Cases up from clusters of cases.
It will take a lot of work and effort to keep us there as a country, but it’s important, Bermuda, that you adhere to the health guidance, which has been given and continue to do what is necessary to protect you and your families, so we can keep the transmission of this virus, at a minimum.
The reopening of LF Wade International Airport is a critical part of getting Bermudians back to work. Yet we recognize that we cannot open the airport until we are in a position to protect our Bermudian workers at the airport, protect our hospitality workers and protect the people who enter our jurisdiction. Today we are joined by Mr. Aaron Adderley, President of Skyport who will provide an update on the procedures being put in place at the airport for the benefit and safety of all.
AARON ADDERLEY STATEMENT
Thank you Mr. Adderley.
I know that many Bermudians are concerned about the reopening of our borders, especially with the news that other countries do not have rigorous controls in place that we have established in Bermuda. Increases in spikes in other places are cause for concern, but I am confident that our regime is robust. In Bermuda, we do not have a mass tourism market, and as is being stated, though the airports are going to reopen the flights are going to be slow to pick up, so I’m certain that the month of July will allow us to continue to streamline our process. But, with the testing requirements before persons board the flight, in addition to testing on arrival, we’re confident that we’ll be able to keep the country safe.
The Cabinet Committee on reopening the economy met earlier today, and will be making a recommendation for Cabinet’s consideration tomorrow. Full details regarding Phase 4 will be shared, at this press conference on Thursday. However, at this time we are still on track for Phase 4 to commence at the expiration of the state of emergency, next week Wednesday. Last week Thursday when reviewing items in Phase 3B left out changes that were in law to allow community clubs and members’ clubs to provide outdoor bar services.
These clubs are a linchpin in the social fabric of our community and serve as meeting places, sports centers and home to good food and fellowship. In keeping with what was done for other establishments, community clubs and members clubs were included in the last round of amendments for Phase 3B, and as of last week Thursday, were allowed to operate on the same basis as bars, providing outdoor service if they held a liquor license.
The regulations require that tables be at least six feet apart, or where that is not reasonably practicable separated by barriers of at least six and a half feet high. No group at any one table should exceed ten persons, and no groups shall exceed 20 persons in total. No customer shall stand at the bar or elsewhere, and indoor areas of the bars shall remain closed.
Access to toilets are permitted in accordance with the directions issued by the Ministry of Health. I would like to apologize for missing this on Thursday, as I know I got a number of questions afterwards, as I promised the week before that those be included in Phase 3B. They were actually included in the changes that were made by the Governor last week Thursday. However, I did not include them in my remarks and therefore I apologize.
Just a few more announcements before we take questions. I’ve been informed that Dr. Carika Weldon and the team at the Bermuda Government Molecular Diagnostic Lab have launched a WhatsApp service. This will be similar to the government WhatsApp service and will provide updates and provide answers to questions and queries from the public.
To get in touch with this WhatsApp service, please add 441-500-1982. I’ll say that one more time, 500-1982 to your contacts and send them a WhatsApp message to sign up for the service. And of course the government WhatsApp service continues to provide information to the public, and I encourage everyone, if you have not yet signed up for the government’s WhatsApp service, please add the phone number, 504-6045, to your contacts and send us a message, a simple message and said ‘hi’, and you will receive updates from the government.
I’m now happy to take any questions from members of the media at this time.