2021-03-02 - 21:53:25 POLITICS |
Bermuda Returns To 12am - 5am Curfew Starting Thursday Say Premier Burt
Tonight I am joined by the Minister of Health, The Hon. Kim Wilson who will provide updates on the latest vaccination statistics, the recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases, and further updates from her Ministry.
I am thankful to have Dr. Carika Weldon is here to discuss the efforts being done by her team at the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory to map which variants we have seen in Bermuda.
Following the Minister and Dr. Weldon, I will provide you with an update on the COVID-19 regulations agreed today by the Cabinet and other matters.
I am also happy to have the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ayo Oyinloye, who can answer any technical or medical questions from the media as well.
You and your team at the Ministry of Health have worked extremely hard to increase the pace of vaccinations in Bermuda, while managing the pandemic. With the collective efforts of the Ministry of Health, nurses, doctors, vaccination centre and Public Health staff, and volunteers, Bermuda has remained among the top countries in the world (6th according to ourworldindata.org) for vaccinations administered per capita, with 21,387 total doses administered as of yesterday.
This includes a continued increase in vaccine doses administered week on week, with 22% more doses administered this week than last week, in addition to the 24% increase, which I reported last week. As I have said previously, we are in a marathon and not a sprint. These statistics will show that our efforts are making a difference in getting more eligible persons vaccinated and that we are consistently moving towards our goal.
I want to say before I move on, well done to all those involved, the Minister of Health, the Chief Medical Officer, and everyone else who is a part of this vaccination effort. The volunteers, people who are getting persons to the vaccination sites, those who are checking up, it is an incredible effort, and we should all be very proud of the work we have achieved over the past seven weeks.
Vaccinations are important, but we must also continue to know the threats that face us today as the coronavirus remains a threat to our wellbeing as a society. Now we will hear from Dr. Carika Weldon, who will speak to the work that Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory (MDL) has been undertaking to investigate the coronavirus variants on our shores.
On behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda, I thank you and your team, who have been at the forefront of our battle against the coronavirus. It has been wonderful to see young Bermudian scientists doing such important work for the country.
To hear that that important work has now expanded, with our young scientists determining which variants are here on the island is inspiring. I also commend Keizhari Knight and all of the team at MDL for their incredible work; you have made us proud.
There are some who wish to criticize the work of the MDL. But as a leader of the Government, I'm proud of the decision to support this lab. As Dr. Weldon would recognize, and as all of us know, we are not 100% perfect. Recognizing that the vast amount of tests that have been done for the lab, a little bit more than 160,000 since this pandemic has begun, in addition to the excellent work they are now doing regarding identifying variants, sets Bermuda apart and gives us more tools in our arsenal. So I want to thank you and congratulate you on your work and your efforts.
Both the Ministry of Health and the Bermuda Government Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory team have worked extraordinarily hard to ensure that we have the tools to tackle this pandemic. But from the very start, I have always stated that it only takes one person to set us as a country back. One person to cause harm to our economy. One person who can set off the chain of events that will have more students getting set back on their education by not being able to go back to school. One person who can cause a chain of events that can cause an outbreak that can put persons in the hospital or, unfortunately, lead to more dire consequences, as we have seen recently.
Despite our hard work and our progress to date, I am disappointed that we have recently seen a rise in active cases due to what seems to be a single event. This increase is further evidence that COVID-19 is still a threat and can easily spread if persons do not follow the regulations that the Government has implemented to manage the impact of the coronavirus in our country.
This includes the protocols in place at our borders and the traveller continuum, which requires persons who are not vaccinated to follow specific guidelines until testing negative on day 14. It is imperative that travellers follow these guidelines until the end to protect themselves and others. We came under immense criticism for requiring travellers to wear wristbands, and the fact that persons would be at an event with these wristbands in contravention of the rules that have been put in place is careless. And those who hosted them are reckless as well, putting themselves and others at risk.
What is more concerning, as Dr. Weldon has indicated, is that the single event and our current outbreak is of a version of the coronavirus that is known to be more transmissible - that of the UK Variant.
Last week I advised that the Government will not hesitate to reimpose certain regulations if necessary to protect public health. Today, as recommended by the Ministry of Health, and with the support of the COVID-19 Cabinet Committee, the Cabinet has agreed to the following:
· Curfew will be reimplemented from 12 am-5 am, due to the current outbreak of the new UK strain.
· Due to the re-imposition of the curfew - All businesses will be required to close at 11 pm
All of the other existing regulations will remain:
· Maximum number of persons for group gatherings in a public or private setting is 25.
· Outdoor funerals can be attended by up to 50 persons
· Indoor funerals can hold up to 25% of the maximum capacity for the venue in which they are held.
· Table size in restaurants, bars, and nightclubs remains at ten persons
· Boat curfew will remain at 8 pm.
· Table and bar service at any liquor license establishment is prohibited.
The curfew of business closures by 11 pm and changes will come into effect tomorrow. Therefore this evening is the last night without curfew. Changes to the public health regulations that will take effect tomorrow, and therefore as of Wednesday night curfew has been set back to midnight, 12 pm. All measures will be reviewed, and an update will be provided again in two weeks’ time.
The Government takes no joy in reimplementing such measures. I take no joy in reimplementing such measures. However, we will continue to do what is necessary to control any outbreaks so that we can contain the coronavirus on our shores. We learned our lesson in November, and we will not make the same decisions as we did then now. We have learned, and we will act quickly when there are outbreaks to ensure that we can constrain any outbreaks so that they do not lead to further disruption.
As a country, we must not let the freedoms we enjoy allow us to forget that we all have a responsibility to keep ourselves and our fellow Bermudians safe. Though we may go about our individual lives every day, the battle against the coronavirus is one that we must continue to face together. One set of careless people can have an impact on the wider segment of the country. It is unfortunate, but this is where we are. This outbreak is real, and we will take the measures necessary to control it.
We must focus on our vaccination programme, and any wider outbreak will take us away from our vaccination programme into outbreak prevention. We must keep our schools open so our students can learn and not be further set back in their educational pursuits. That is the priority of the Government of Bermuda, and we will continue to make decisions that are in that best interest.
Many Bermudians have asked, especially on social media, about what kind of summer season we can expect to have, the types of activities to be enjoyed, and which events they may be able to attend.
The answer to that is determined by our actions today. What we do during the weeks and months leading to our summer season will influence our circumstances for the upcoming summer.
If we want to enjoy our summer and all that Bermuda has to offer, we must ensure that we remain sensible and vigilant in our decision making so that we can eventually put the pandemic behind us.
After tonight, the COVID-19 press conferences will move to every other week. The Minister of Health and I will be back with you on Tuesday, March 16th. Until that time, we ask that all Bermudians remain mindful of the presence of coronavirus. Ensure that any event you attend, establishment or home that you enter, is adhering to the appropriate regulations and not putting anyone at risk. Let’s continue to work together to keep each other safe.
As I conclude, I know that many in our community may need extra emotional support. If you need someone to talk with, call the Emotional Wellbeing Hotline. The phone number is 543-1111. The line is operated Monday to Saturday, from 5pm - 9pm.
Again, the phone number is 543-1111. Please call as help is available.
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