Island on track to reopen with Phase 4

  • Press conference

  • David Burt, the Premier (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    David Burt, the Premier (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the chairman of the reopening committee (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the chairman of the reopening committee (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • Graphic from the Bermuda Government

    Graphic from the Bermuda Government

  • Graphic by Christina White

    Graphic by Christina White

  • Graphic by Christina White

    Graphic by Christina White

Bermuda is on track to enter the last phase of the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions at the start of next month, the Premier said last night.

The last phase of restrictions against coronavirus is scheduled to begin at 6am on Wednesday.

The curfew will remain — although the hours will change from 11pm to 5am to midnight to 5am.

David Burt praised the island’s efforts to fight the coronavirus and that there had been “a lot of work getting us to this point” with “excellent progress” in the battle against the pandemic.

Mr Burt said: “We have truly punched above our weight.”

He praised the public’s “creativity, resilience and discipline” during months of restrictions.

The announcement came after 220 test results for the coronavirus were returned yesterday — and all were clear.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, said the island had carried out 10,634 tests for the coronavirus and 98 per cent of them had been negative.

The number of confirmed cases of the disease stands at 146, with nine deaths.

There are four active cases of Covid-19, with three under public health monitoring and one in hospital, but not in critical care.

Ms Wilson warned that, under Phase 4, the protection of “clinically extremely vulnerable and very elderly persons will be more important than ever”.

She said that would have to take priority over allowing rest home staff to work in more than one home.

She added that commercial air passengers, who will start coming to the island in Phase 4, would not need to be quarantined for 14 days.

Zane DeSilva, the tourism minister, said Air Canada was expected to fly once a week from Toronto from July 2 and Delta Air Lines would start daily flights from Atlanta from July 6.

British Airways is scheduled to start a twice-a-week service from July 17.

But Mr DeSilva said the schedules could change at short notice.

Delta’s New York and Boston services will remain suspended.

But JetBlue flights are likely to resume in August and American Airlines will also resume flights from New York.

Mr DeSilva said American Airlines flights from Philadelphia and Miami would not restart before December.

He added: “What we refer to as seasonal flights from Newark, Washington DC and Charlotte are cancelled for 2020.”

Mr DeSilva said this year’s air capacity was expected to be 61.7 per cent of last year.

Ms Wilson said arrivals to the island would be monitored through tests and contact with health officials.

A travel authorisation form to be completed before arrival will include a $75 fee to cover a test. Visitors will also have to have evidence of a clear PCR coronavirus test, ideally inside 72 hours of travel, although up to five days would be accepted.

Mr Burt said he understood the reservations of those who felt Bermuda’s borders should remain closed.

But he added that an extensive test programme would be used to keep visitors and residents safe.

Mr Burt said: “Bermuda’s regime will likely be the strictest in the world.”

Ms Wilson added that visitors and returned residents would all be tested at the airport on arrival and quarantined until they got a clear test result.

A nose and throat swab test will be required for adults.

Children aged 10 to 17 will “likely” be able to take a saliva test and those aged under 10 will not be tested.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the public works minister and the chairman of the committee on the reopening strategy, said the island’s state of emergency was on course to end at midnight on Tuesday.

Colonel Burch said the curfew would be reviewed every week.

Gatherings will be increased to a maximum of 50, with masks required if safe distances between people cannot be maintained.

Bars and nightclubs will be able to open, subject to public health guidelines and social-distancing.

Churches and places of worship can hold services for up to 50 people, with social-distancing, and will be able to give communions with “appropriate health measures”.

Boats will also be able to remain on the water overnight, but will not be permitted to move during curfew times.

Colonel Burch said more changes could form a Phase 4B — including a possible end to alphabetical shopping days at supermarkets.

He said the arrangement could be dropped if supermarkets retained their three discount days a week, rather than going back to discounts on Wednesdays only, when large numbers of people would head to the shops.

Wayne Caines, the national security minister, said any gathering of more than 50 people in Phase 4 would need his approval in advance.

Organisers would have to submit an event safety plan on a form on the government website.

Mr Caines said police and the Royal Bermuda Regiment would continue to enforce Phase 3 restrictions, which would remain in force this weekend.

He also confirmed that the Government’s shelter for the homeless would continue to operate while the curfew lasted.

Pop-up test sites for the coronavirus will be offered today from 9am until 1pm at the Anglican Cathedral in Hamilton, and at the Somerset MarketPlace from 3pm until 7pm.

UPDATE: This story was amended to make clear that Delta Air Lines will start daily flights from Atlanta from July 6, not weekly flights, as initially reported. We apologise for the error.

To view the statements from the Premier, the Minister of Health, the Minister of National Security, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, the chairman of the reopening committee, and a graphic outlining Phase 4, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”

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Published Jun 26, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 26, 2020 at 5:42 pm)

Island on track to reopen with Phase 4

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