Public need to heed quarantine rules

  • Stark warning: David Burt, the Premier, speaks during the daily Covid-19 update at Cabinet Building, as Kim Wilson, the Health Minister, and Wayne Caines, the National Security Minister look on (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Stark warning: David Burt, the Premier, speaks during the daily Covid-19 update at Cabinet Building, as Kim Wilson, the Health Minister, and Wayne Caines, the National Security Minister look on (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • Curbside pick up participating restaurants (Image supplied).

    Curbside pick up participating restaurants (Image supplied).

The Premier yesterday gave a stark warning he would not hesitate to “do what has been done in other places and shut down the entire country for a period of 14 days” if people failed to stick to quarantine rules.

David Burt warned that heavy fines or even jail sentences could be imposed on people who broke quarantine.

He added: “But that would cause incredible economic pain inside the country.”

John Rankin, the Governor, yesterday threw his support behind the Government’s measures to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Rankin encouraged “everyone” to follow advice on “social-distancing, good hygiene and self-quarantining when required”.

Mr Burt was speaking as the Government cracked down with penalties for breaches of the island’s 14-day self-quarantine imposed on travellers who may have been exposed to the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

Fines of up to $6,000 for a first offence, and $10,000 or three months’ imprisonment for a second offence, kicked in yesterday.

Funeral services indoors with up to ten people were allowed and there should be social-distancing at the graveside.

However, pools and gyms inside hotels are off limits, and commercial gyms, barbershops and beauty salons were asked to shut.

Mr Burt said the confinement rules were “no joke” and said that “everyone to police themselves”.

He added that it was requested that church services and weddings should be postponed.

Mr Burt said: “If you go out, you are putting your granny at risk. Stay home, stay home, stay home.”

Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, advised that anyone who broke quarantine would be dealt with by police, and that arriving travellers told to stay at home were listed.

Mr Caines added: “If information comes to us and it’s known that people are outside when they should be inside, we have an opportunity to make a formal police complaint.”

He warned against “vigilantism” against tourists out in public from residents “making assumptions” that visitors had breached quarantine.

He said many arrived before the island slapped travellers with quarantines and self-isolation and that many would have left by last night.

Restaurants must also enforce a social-distancing policy if they are to remain open to dine-in customers.

Mr Burt explained that tables need to be at least a metre apart and that no more than 50 people could be accommodated at any one time, although the maximum would be less in smaller establishments.

He added: “Enforcement officers will request businesses to close if they are not following these regulations.”

Mr Burt explained that bars could cater for no more than 15 people and the one metre, or three feet, distance rule must apply.

He warned: “If liquor licence establishments are not following these social distancing rules, they will be ordered to close.

“So it is up to business owners whether or not they want to enforce social-distancing, or if they want to voluntarily close or if they will be closed by government authorities.”

Mr Burt said the 15 people maximum and distance rules also applied to social clubs and nightclubs.

He added: “If you have music playing inside of a bar and persons are closer than one metre or three feet, you have the possibility of being shut down and your liquor licence being temporarily suspended.”

The allowed numbers for restaurants and bars include staff.

Dozens of restaurants, takeaways and cafés were listed yesterday as being part of a kerbside collection scheme organised by the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, with help from the City of Hamilton and the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.

Rick Olsen, the owner of Bermuda Bistro at the Beach on Front Street, said before the Premier spoke that he planned to keep the Front Street restaurant open as long as it was “legally allowed”.

He offered “limited table service” at about half the capacity after tables were removed to create the space needed to continue to operate.

Mr Olsen added: “The bar is not accessible. We have roped it off.”

He said that about 90 per cent of the restaurant’s business now was takeout and delivery and that hours were reduced over the past two weeks as business slowed.

Mr Olsen explained that he was “trying to keep a few staff employed right now”.

He added: “Financially, it would make a lot more sense for me to close my doors.”

He predicted that restaurant staff could be “laid off next week or have very limited hours, like one day a week”.

Lynn Bardgett, the co-owner of The Lobster Pot restaurant on the city’s Bermudiana Road, said earlier that it had moved to takeout only and had listed as an option on the Sargasso Sea delivery app “overnight”.

She said that this month was usually her busiest before the end of the lobster season on March 31.

Ms Bardgett added the Covid-19 crisis was the first time the restaurant had offered “lobsters to go”.

Reed Young, the owner of the Docksider Pub and Restaurant on Front Street, said he expected to “close indefinitely” although he still offered a takeout service.

He added: “We were planning a bit of renovations this year, so I’m intending to try to use this down time to get them done.”

Mr Young said: “I think people are grocery shopping, people are hunkering down.

“I think there’s going to be a bit of a financial crunch. I think people are thinking about that and they will probably buy groceries and cook at home.”

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Published Mar 21, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 21, 2020 at 8:01 am)

Public need to heed quarantine rules

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