David Burt statement
House: plan to allow larger gatherings
Groups of up to 20 people could be allowed to gather in the third phase of the island’s reopening, the Premier said today.
David Burt added that the Continuing Precautions Regulations were expected to be amended to allow Wayne Caines, the national security minister, to grant permission for more than ten people to meet.
He said that “dependent on public health advice” the maximum would “likely” increase to 20.
Mr Burt told the House of Assembly: “This change is principally for two purposes. Firstly, our union partners operate in an open and democratic manner which requires them to assemble their large memberships to consider and vote on important matters.
“At this time, when we are working together to realise an efficient and workable means to reduce government expenditure, it is critical that they do not run afoul of the law.
“The unions’ leadership have confirmed that a suitable venue has been identified in which appropriate physical distancing and hygiene can be observed and they can safely conduct their ordinary business, properly informing their members.”
Mr Burt said that planned demonstrations in protest at the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after he was arrested by four police officers had also played a part in the decision.
He added: “The second reason for this change is more sombre. The world watched in horror at the images of a white police officer killing a defenceless black man, with no regard for his humanity as his life was snuffed out by a knee on his neck.”
He said: “The murder of George Floyd may have sparked this movement across countries, but let us be clear — this is no out of the ordinary occasion.”
Mr Burt told MPs: “The Minister of National Security will be invited to continue discussions with the organisers of this weekend’s planned march with a view to working with them to facilitate a peaceful expression of the universal demand for an end to the systems that unduly and unjustly target and destroy black and brown people.
“Just as the pandemic appeared to unite us, the events in a Midwestern US city have stirred the unhealed divisions that know no borders.
“Bermuda cannot turn away from this moment. In a land where, in living memory, children were taught that slavery in this country was ‘benign’ we have a responsibility to enable the liberation of the minds of the people through a peaceful demonstration.
“These regulations will be amended to allow us to answer a moral call to action that must convict every system that bears the hallmarks of oppression.
“We can do this safely. We can do this peacefully. One thing is certain, we must do this morally.”
Mr Burt said that the Continuing Precautions Regulations were “amended from time to time to better reflect the balance provided between public health advice and the need to promote economic activity”.
Mr Burt said that John Rankin, the Governor, had been asked to approve amendments to the regulations to extend the hours that commercial boat operators could work to 9pm.
He added: “At this time of year, this sector would be booming owing to cruise tourists and other visitors, as well as a steady local trade.
“With the impact of the pandemic on our tourism, the economics of charter boat operations are incredibly challenging.
“Pending our move to phase 3, this change will improve their opportunity to provide a more attractive service to local customers.”
• To read the Premier’s ministerial statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”
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