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Premier: restrictions to continue for two months, outlines three-phase plan

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David Burt, the Premier, talks to the country about the battle against Covid-19 (Image supplied)

Tough restrictions to fight Covid-19 will continue for another two months, the Premier said last night.

David Burt said the clampdown would continue until June 24 - but that a gradual easing was possible.

He added: “The Government’s hope is for the public health emergency to end on that date, bringing an end to 15 months of a state of emergency in Bermuda.

“However, for that to happen, we must eliminate local transmission of this virus.

“If we do not end local transmission, we will not be able to get rid of our masks, or see the end of curfew.”

The grim news came as Mr Burt announced stricter border controls to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

He also outlined the three phases Bermuda will go through before the island begins to get back to normal.

Mr Burt, in a major address to the country, said flights that originated in Brazil, India or South Africa would be banned with immediate effect.

He added that anyone who had been in these countries within 14 days of arrival would be quarantined for 14 days with an electronic tag.

The news came as he announced that the island had passed the halfway mark for the population having at least one dose of the vaccine – “an excellent milestone”.

But he warned: “However, we must keep going in order to reach our goal of community protection which is considered to be achieved when 70 per cent of the population has received both doses of the vaccine.”

Mr Burt said that non-immunised travellers would have to quarantine from May 2 until a clear Day 4 test.

The time period for a pre-arrival test for visitors to get travel authorisation will go down to three days from five.

All non-immunised travellers to Bermuda will be quarantined under supervision for 14 days “in a designated facility at their own expense”.

Immunised travellers to Bermuda with a negative pretest will not have to quarantine after a clear arrival test, but will still have be tested on Days 4, 8 and 14.

Immunised returned residents without a clear pre-arrival test will have to quarantine until they get a clear Day 4 test.

Mr Burt said there would be exemptions on supervised quarantine on medical grounds and for minors.

He added: “All other persons will be required to enter supervised quarantine so that we can protect our island from the introduction of new variants.”

Mr Burt told the country: “I recognise that different treatment at the border for those who are immunised and non-immunised my cause alarm, but strong leadership requires making difficult decisions.”

He added: “Bermuda has not gone as far to require immunisations – however, non-immunised travellers will be subject to a different regime upon arrival.”

The Premier outlined a three-phase plan for Bermuda which, he said, could lead to the expiration of the Public Health emergency on June 24.

“Following the seven-day Stay at Home Order, this past Tuesday, we commenced Phase 1 of 3 on our Road map to Reopening. This current phase, when combined with seven-day stay at home order, will be for a total of four weeks,” said Mr Burt.

"If the data allows, it is envisioned Phase 2 can commence on Sunday May 9, Mother’s Day.

“It will see the end of restrictions on household mixing, as well as reopening of schools, leisure facilities, churches, gyms, outdoor dining and limited personal care services.

“Due to our desire to eliminate local transmission, there will be continued restrictions on activities, gathering sizes and a curfew will remain in place during this time.”

The Premier said the Government would continue to provide financial support to businesses and individuals who are directly affected by the restrictions.

“Provided that we are successful in continuing to reduce local transmission, and all of the data metrics allow, after four weeks in Phase 2 we would be able to progress to Phase 3 on June 6.

“This will permit the re- opening of all other businesses which were not opened in the previous phase. A determination on the need to continue the curfew and other restrictions such as gathering sizes will be based on the data at that time.

“June 6 will also be the date that the 14-day supervised quarantine for all non-immunised travellers comes into place.”

If all goes well following the commencement of Phase 3, and we are successful in eliminating local case transmission through compliance with restrictions and increased vaccinations, the Public Health emergency will be allowed to expire on June 24.“

The Premier emphasised: “But the end of the Public Health Emergency in Bermuda is up to all of us as a community.”

Mr Burt, who contracted the coronavirus despite full vaccination, said high vaccination rates were “essential on our journey back to normality.”

“Getting the vaccine is a personal choice and I urge you to speak to your doctor to discuss whether the vaccine is medically safe for you to take.”

“Early evidence also shows that persons who are immunised are less likely to spread the virus if they have been infected – something I can speak to directly as none of my family tested positive.”

Mr Burt warned: “Those that are not vaccinated are more likely to test positive for a coronavirus infection and are more likely to spread that infection to others, therefore our changes at the border will ensure that we minimise that risk as much as possible.”