Burt: limited bus service to return
Buses are to return to the roads tomorrow, the Premier said yesterday.
David Burt added that more talks were expected to take place between transport department representatives and the Ministry of Health.
The Department of Public Transportation said on Sunday night that the resumption of services with limited capacity — scheduled for the following day — would be delayed because of a Bermuda Industrial Union meeting yesterday morning.
Mr Burt told a press conference that he was unable to talk about concerns raised by the union because he was not at the meeting.
But he added: “On a broader level, inside of this crisis is that many persons have their own opinions, and even persons such as myself, we have to listen to the advice of public health and the Ministry of Health, even though we may disagree with said advice.
“My view is that we certainly have to get Bermuda back up and running, we need to make sure that Bermuda gets back to work and I would say that it is essential that, as the Government of Bermuda follows the guidelines from the Ministry of Health, that all departments of the Government of Bermuda follow the guidelines from the Ministry of Health.”
The Premier said last Friday that a limited bus service with strict precautions would start yesterday.
Mr Burt explained that all passengers would have to wear a face mask and keep at least three feet apart when seated.
He said buses would be limited to a maximum of 17 passengers and no one would be allowed to stand.
But the DPT said on Sunday night that because of the 8am BIU meeting “the bus service which was recently announced to resume tomorrow will be delayed until further notice”.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said that the three-feet distance — instead of the six feet required elsewhere — was approved by public health officials as public transport was “an essential activity for the resumption of work and economic life”.
She added: “Its necessity justifies the risk as it is mitigated by the mandatory wearing of masks.”
Ms Wilson said the combined impact of mask-wearing, social-distancing and hand hygiene helped protect the public.
She said: “Other jurisdictions are adopting similar measures in order for public transportation to be able to operate.”
The minister asked bus users to avoid peak travel times if possible, face away from other passengers, avoid physical contact and cover their faces if they coughed or sneezed.
She added that the key was “not to be too close to other people for more than a short amount of time”.
Ms Wilson said: “The risk of infection increases the closer that you are to another person with the virus and the amount of time that you spend in close contact with that person.
“You are very unlikely to be infected just walking past another person to take up your seat three feet away.”
The BIU did not respond to a request for comment.