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Police asked to investigate raft-up for social-media influencers

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Reggae star Shaggy performing aboard a boat that was taking part in an illegal raft up (Photograph from social media)
Renee Ming, the Minister of National Security (File photograph)

Police have been asked to investigate a raft-up involving dozens of social media influencers brought to the island by US fashion brand Revolve.

The Minister of National Security, Renée Ming, confirmed that while a large group gathering exemption was granted to the organisers to host the event, there were specific guidelines in place that attendees had to follow

She said that images and video circulating on social media showing a raft-up, which is illegal under existing Covid-19 laws, was "very concerning and extremely disappointing“.

She added: "I have seen the many videos and social media posts circulating today. This is concerning and disappointing because yesterday was only day three since we went into Phase 3 of the Public Health (Covid-19 Emergency Powers) (Phased Reopening) Regulations 2021.

"The regulations governing public events are clear and have been established for the protection of our community in the midst of this global pandemic.

“I have referred this matter to the Bermuda Police Service for a full and thorough investigation, and based on their findings, to take any necessary enforcement action.

"Lastly, the Government has worked tirelessly to mitigate and control the community spread of the Covid-19 virus. It is an everyday effort. We know that the vast majority of our community are compliant with the regulations in place, and are taking the right and necessary steps to protect themselves and their families.

“In that regard, the ministry appreciates the patience, collaboration and support of the public and thanks them for their co-operation."

A spokeswoman added: “There were clear law violations at the event, because under the current regulations, raft ups are not permitted at any time. As a note, ’Restrictions on boating activity 17(4) – No person shall tie a boat to another boat (raft up) for recreational purposes’.”

The Premier, David Burt, tweeted: “The images of what appears to be an illegal raft-up are not in compliance with the laws of Bermuda as raft-ups are not permitted. I have asked the Minister of National Security to liaise with the Bermuda Police Service on this matter.”

Mr Burt said he “100%” agreed in response to a post saying that until someone is fined like many locals have been, “this is lip service”.

The exemption was granted to Selange Gitschner, the founder and creative director of local event organiser Dasfete which has helped to co-ordinate the group.

It stipulates that those attending or working at the event must be fully immunised, or have tested negative for the coronavirus three days prior to the event, as per the Covid-19 SafeKey initiative.

Images and video of the raft up show boats lined up together with scores of people. Reggae superstar Shaggy was also performing for the party.

The Bermuda Police Service confirmed that an investigation into the matter has commenced.

A police spokesman said: "It would not be prudent to make any further comment until that investigation is completed."

Revolve brought about 70 models and influencers to the island on Sunday. They are staying at the Rosewood Tucker’s Point hotel in Hamilton Parish. Their planned trips have included a dinner at the unfinished church on Monday, a dinner at Island House in Warwick and a “Yacht Day”.

The trip follows from a visit by Revolve in 2018 when Bermuda played host to more than 75 top models, bloggers and influencers as part of a marketing drive.

Constitutional Freedom Bermuda responds to raft up

Constitutional Freedom Bermuda, an activist group, said it was calling on Renee Ming, the Minister of National Security, to explain the rationale behind granting overseas retail company, Revolve “an exemption to bring non-Bermudians to have a paradise vacation party in Bermuda, whilst Bermudians are subjected to a laundry list of unreasonable restrictions”.

The group added: “The Revolve exemption was granted on 10 May 2021, prior to the Government’s indication that unvaccinated Bermudians would be put to the expense of having to mandatorily quarantine at designated luxury hotels selected by the Government, for 14 days.

“Today, 9 June 2021 photos and videos are circulating demonstrating that the Revolve group are gallivanting in full-party mode, in direct contravention of the very same Covid-19 regulations that Bermudians are subjected to; individuals can be seen in close proximity to one another whilst not wearing a mask and participating in raft ups with far more than the permitted number of individuals.

“The regressive government led by Premier David Burt needs to be held to account immediately; this regressive government is clearly placing overseas interest above the interests and rights of Bermudians.”

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Published June 10, 2021 at 8:13 am (Updated June 10, 2021 at 12:53 pm)

Police asked to investigate raft-up for social-media influencers

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