Get vaccinated and save lives
David Burt said last night that he knew he was delivering the news that no one wanted to hear, not even those people who were expecting or even calling for further restrictions to arrest the wave of coronavirus cases that has assailed the island.
The Premier was right. No one wants this. But it is the right thing to do — if anything, it should have happened a week ago.
That Mr Burt should also reveal that he has tested positive for Covid-19 adds gravity to the crisis Bermuda is facing.
If the Premier can test positive, anyone can. But because Mr Burt was already vaccinated, it means any symptoms he is experiencing and the risk of him giving it to anyone else are very low, and so far this has proved to be the case; his own family tested negative.
Nonetheless, Mr. Burt’s infection demonstrates just how widespread and out of control this outbreak is. Having tried to slow it with more limited measures, tougher restrictions were essential. A circuit breaker was needed and it was needed immediately.
That does not mean that this could have been an easy decision. The effects on all aspects of the community will be profound, especially if the order is extended beyond seven days, as seems likely.
Thousands of people again face the spectre of unemployment. While there will be government support again, this is minimal and is often inadequate to cover basic household expenses.
Many businesses, especially those in the tourism, hospitality and customer-facing operations were already reeling and struggling to stay afloat. Some may not survive this shock.
Nor should the psychological effects of coronavirus be underestimated, either. Loneliness and isolation are part of it, while the sense that Bermuda was, with its exemplary vaccination programme, moving towards a semblance of normality makes this harder to accept.
But the statistics do not lie. Bermuda has added 488 cases in the past seven days and the number of active cases is now 877, just under half the total number of cases the country has recorded since the beginning of the pandemic. That number would have been even higher had 110 people not recovered over the weekend.
More worryingly, 451 cases are "under investigation", meaning they have not been linked to a known contact; the very definition of community transmission.
Four people have died from Covid-19 in the past two weeks. More will follow if Bermuda does not get a grip — and now!
The Premier noted that one of the reason for the huge number of cases on Friday was a high number of Covid-19 cases came from an office where social distancing was not being practised.
In other instances, people have gathered in parties, at funerals and elsewhere. Mr Burt and Kim Wilson, the health minister, were at pains to explain how the virus had spread — through the selfishness and carelessness of members of the community, including over the Easter weekend.
We have seen the enemy, and it is us.
Fortunately, there is a solution — and it is also us.
If Bermuda had not had 27 per cent of the population fully immunised as of last week, and more than 50 per cent of those in the most vulnerable age groups, it does not bear thinking about where the island would be right now.
Instead, vaccinations offer hope that Bermuda can recover from this, and quickly.
Mr Burt said there are enough vaccine doses on the island right now — yes, right now — for Bermuda to reach the target of 70 per cent of the population being immunised.
And he said the Government was setting a goal of reaching this target by the end of May.
While more details for this will be announced tomorrow, the Premier said the goal is to mobilise private-sector medical professionals and others to administer the vaccinations. They should volunteer in droves.
This is the right thing to do. Bermuda has it in its own power to get out of Stay at Home and to get back to normal life. There will be some who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, and that is entirely reasonable.
There are more, sadly, who refuse to accept the safety of the vaccines on offer, even when the alternative is severe illness and death.
Rather than believe the statements of trained medical professionals who have given their own lives to the health of others, they choose to believe groundless claims from social media and other sources.
Bermuda has a choice today. It can continue in the existing revolving door of lockdown followed by a relaxation of rules followed by an outbreak followed by another lockdown, or it can get vaccinated and return to normal life.
Get vaccinated and save a life. It could be your own.