Bipartisan show of unity against Covid-19
The Leader of the Opposition joined the Premier last night to signal a united front in the battle against Covid-19.
Craig Cannonier took a place alongside David Burt and Cabinet ministers and asked the public to “stick together to eradicate” the disease.
Mr Cannonier said: “I want to give great thanks to the Premier for this opportunity that we have this evening to sit at the table in a bipartisan approach to a virus that seeks to annihilate us.”
He added: “It's after our most precious resource — and that is you, Bermuda.”
Mr Cannonier said: “It also seeks to destroy our economy.”
He added: “What it has clearly highlighted, however, is our need for each other.”
Mr Cannonier said: “My presence here this evening marks the Premier's and my commitment to seek every opportunity we can to fight this virus.”
The One Bermuda Alliance leader said that this week marked “a new way forward for us in bipartisanship, although there would still be questions and hard conversations”.
Mr Burt explained earlier that the presence of an Opposition leader at a government press conference was “perhaps ... a first in modern Bermuda history”.
He said: “Covid-19 does not care if, or how, you vote and at this time neither should we.”
Mr Burt added that he and Mr Cannonier had been “bitter” political rivals, and that the trust between them was “far from perfect, but it's getting better”.
He said it was up to “each and every one of us” to stay safe during the first of four phases designed to ease strict shelter-in-place restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
But he warned: “If we see a significant increase in cases based on comparison with our modelling, or if we see that people and businesses are not complying with the conditions of phase one, unfortunately more intense public health measures will have to be implemented and I plead with all persons in Bermuda, do not force us to go in that direction.”
Mr Burt added: “I am very proud of the work that each and every Bermudian has done in your way to get us to where we are to the ending of shelter-in-place.
“As we have reached across the political divide, I am tonight reaching out to everyone in Bermuda, for your help.
“Together we came through shelter-in-place, and together we can come through phase one and beyond, into a new normal where we can return to work, children can return to school and our lives can return to some semblance of normality.”
In phase one — from 6am today — gatherings, including at private homes, are limited to ten people.
Restaurants can operate takeout services and retail businesses can offer kerbside collections and deliveries between 7am and 9pm.
Playgrounds will remain shut, along with exercise equipment at parks, but beaches and parks will be open with social-distancing of six feet.
The Government has not set time frames for the phases, but regulations published in the Official Gazette said that the latest rules will end at 6am on May 31, unless they were extended by agreement of the House of Assembly and the Senate.
Kim Wilson, the health minister, said that the number of Covid-19 cases remained at 114 after 207 test results came back clear.
She added there were 60 active Covid-19 cases, 16 of them in hospital.
Forty-eight people have recovered from the virus and total deaths remained at six.
Ms Wilson said she had been concerned by reports that people planned to hold house parties to celebrate the end of the lockdown.
She warned: “Please don't. People still need to avoid moving about and congregating with different households as much as possible.
“The fact that we have more freedom of movement now does not mean that we can move freely as if Covid-19 did not exist.”
Ms Wilson said Bermuda, which had checked more than 2,790 people for the coronavirus, now ranked among the top 10 per cent of countries in the world for tests carried out.
She added that the Bermuda Health Council had launched an online health monitor called HealthIQ to help to “track symptoms based on Covid criteria”.
Ms Wilson said: “We are asking that each household go to healthiq.bm and enter your information immediately and update it often.”
Mr Burt outlined new technology that could be used to track the virus, including a GPS tracker for essential workers to trace their contacts if they became ill.
However, he emphasised: “These sorts of technological solutions are not magic fixes.”
Wayne Caines, the national security minister, said that the 24-hour accommodation at CedarBridge Academy for Bermuda's homeless would move to a night shelter.
Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, will field questions on the Government's Facebook page tonight at 7.30pm.
• To view the health minister's statement in full, as well as the Phase 1 guidance and updated regulations, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”