Covid-19: Mask-wearing to be made mandatory
Failure to wear a protective mask against Covid-19 is to be an offence punishable by fines, the health minister said last night.
Kim Wilson said a first conviction would get a $500 fine and second and subsequent offences will incur a $1,000 fine.
Masks were already required in public places where social distancing could not be maintained, but the penalties are new.
Ms Wilson said the island would move to tighter travel restrictions this Friday, with travellers required to have a pre-arrival test up to five days before their day of travel instead of seven days.
She revealed Bermuda had logged two more coronavirus cases out of 1,060 tests received on Monday.
One was a resident who returned from the United States on November 21, who tested positive on day 8, but had earlier tested negative for the coronavirus.
The other, also a resident, was an on-island transmission with a known contact.
The resident, who had been under quarantine, was in close contact with a case in the workplace.
There are 39 active cases of the illness, with 38 of them monitored by public health officials.
One case is in hospital, but not in critical care.
Ms Wilson said the patient’s age would not be released to protect their privacy.
There have been 262 confirmed cases in Bermuda so far.
A total of seven cases remain under investigation.
Ms Wilson said the Government would not act on a petition calling for all visitors to be quarantined for eight days after arrival.
She said the move would be “hugely detrimental” to the island’s struggling tourism industry.
The Covid-19 call centre has also extended its hours from 9am to 9pm to 8am to 10pm.
David Burt, the Premier, said the seven cases under investigation could not be “sugar coated”.
He highlighted the island the island had experienced clusters of the illness and the source of several were still unknown.
Mr Burt added: “Over the past few weeks there has been a great deal of attention placed on our schools. Decisions on our schools were not taken lightly.”
Mr Burt said he had recommended that classroom learning should be suspended at any school with a confirmed coronavirus case.
He added he had heard appeals for a return to a shelter in place lockdown, as well as pleas to close the airport and return to curfews.
Mr Burt said there has also been examples of panic buying sparked by rumours.
Mr Burt said the next two weeks would be “critical” in determining how the island moved forward, with students returning home from countries where cases of the virus had soared.
Mr Burt said further actions to contain the virus would be announced in the House of Assembly on Friday.
He signalled that would likely include further restrictions on people coming in from overseas.
Mr Burt added: “The recent spikes mean that further action must be taken to protect our country.”
He appealed to the public to report anyone who breached health rules to the police number 211.
Mr Burt added that police had increased manning of its phone lines.
He said: “There are people who have the coronavirus this week who did not have it last week.
“This is a worrying, stressful, frightening time for them and their family members.”
He advised the public to avoid any non-essential travel and to stay safe over the Christmas holiday.
Mr Burt said: “The decisions that are made by the Government are based on comprehensive scientific and data driven evidence.”
He commended the more than 2,000 people who have so far downloaded the Government’s new WeHealth anonymous health-tracking app.
Mr Burt said: “A lot of these ongoing transmissions were completely preventable.
“Yes, I know it’s painful. But if we do what’s necessary, the virus will not overtake us. We will overtake it.”