David Burt: Curfew to return tonight
A curfew has been reintroduced after the island logged 86 new cases of the coronavirus in six days, the Premier said yesterday.
David Burt told the House of Assembly that the curfew would apply from 11pm to 5am from tomorrow until December 22 at least.
He added that businesses must close at 10pm and the maximum size of gatherings would be reduced to ten.
Gyms must operate at reduced capacity and personal services such as barbers and spas cannot provide any services that require a mask to be removed.
Mr Burt said the new wave of infections was being driven by younger people, with more than half of the latest cases aged under 30.
Bermuda has seven clusters of cases of the virus, up from two, but has not moved to community spread.
The news came as Kim Wilson, the health minister, announced care home restrictions because of the spike in cases.
Ms Wilson said that visitors would have to remain outside care homes “unless deemed essential”.
Visitors will have to talk to care home residents through a window or door.
The move to protect the elderly and vulnerable was announced as Ms Wilson announced 27 new cases were detected in 1,157 test results that came back to health officials yesterday.
A total of 13 were on-island transmissions with known contacts.
Another 14 are under investigation as residents with no travel history or links to known cases.
The figures brought the number of active cases to 149.
Two people are being treated in hospital – one in critical care.
Ms Wilson appealed to the “worried well” not to take up coronavirus test spots needed for more urgent cases as the island recorded 113 new infections over the last seven days.
She highlighted an example where a husband and wife had booked six tests each.
Mr Burt said in the House that the restrictions were approved at a Cabinet meeting yesterday and would be reviewed on December 22.
He added: “The numbers will get worse before they get better. It is therefore essential that we implement further actions now to avoid possible harsher actions later.”
Residents who travel back to Bermuda without having a pretest will now be charged $300 instead of $30.
Mr Burt said that 1,800 tests had been administered on Thursday, “smashing any previous record”.
He added the “strong public health advice” was that people should work from home if possible.
The online benefits application form for people put out of work went live at 5pm today.
Mr Burt highlighted that the unemployment benefits scheme could be found at https://uba.gov.bm.
He said if eligible workers had their applications filed by 5pm on Monday, they should receive their $1,000 payment next Wednesday.
The aid will go to full-time employees of bars and nightclubs which have had to close because of restrictions.
Businesses can also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions on how to apply on behalf of their employees.
Other benefits were announced for workers put in mandatory quarantine by the Ministry of Health who are unable to earn their ordinary pay.
They will qualify for biweekly aid from December 18.
The payout will be 60 per cent of normal pay, to a maximum of $500 per week.
The news came as the Coco Reef Hotel in Paget said it would charge $79 a night to accommodate people unable to quarantine at home.
Mr Burt said some restrictions against the pandemic were likely to continue beyond December 22.
He added he was reluctant to consider a return to shelter in place lockdown regulations – but that depended on people sticking to the rules.
Mr Burt said: “I don’t think that we want to get back to that place and I’m going to put it on the people of this country, who have been through a lot this year, for us not to get back to that place.”