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Live: Three new Covid-19 cases today, phase 2 starts on Sunday

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The vaccination programme continues at a temporary location at the Open Door Christian Assembly in St Davids (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Bermuda will move to phase 2 of its road map to normality from Sunday, the health minister said this evening.

Kim Wilson said Bermuda had achieved the targets set out by the Premier in his national address and therefore could reduce restrictions.

From Sunday:

· The curfew will be extended to 10pm to 5am

· Gatherings of up to ten people will be permitted, and the national security minister can grant exemptions for larger events at her discretion

· Remote working will not be required but will be strongly encouraged

· Schools will open on Monday, as will daycare facilities and nurseries

· Retail businesses can open at 20 per cent capacity

· Grocery stores will continue at 20 per cent capacity but will end the alphabetical entry requirement

· Restaurants can have outdoor dining at a maximum of six people per table and tables must be six fee apart

· Bars can also have outdoor patrons but can only offer table service with the same restrictions as restaurants

· Church services including weddings and funerals can take place indoor with 20 per cent capacity to a maximum of 25 people. Outdoor services are also limited to 25 people. Larger wakes are not permitted.

· Gyms and other fitness services can open but equipment must be ten feet apart and masks must be worn. High intensity exercises like spin classes cannot take place indoors

· Recreational boating is allowed between 5am and 8pm but raft-ups are not permitted.

· Charter boats can operate under requirements laid out by Marine and Ports.

· Personal care services like hairdressers, barbers and spas can operate but can only offer services where masks can be worn

Ms Wilson announced that more than 60,000 doses of the vaccine had been administered through earlier this week.

By Saturday, 58,193 doses had been administered, of which 25,216 people had received two doses and were immunised. That is the equivalent of 39 per cent of the population.

A further 7,661 or 12 per cent of the population has received one dose, she said.

Ms Wilson also warned that the stocks of both the Pfizer and Astra Zeneca vaccines will expire at the end of June. This meant that the last first doses of Pfizer would be administered on June 8 while the Astra Zeneca vaccine could be administered until the end of the month.

She said again there was enough vaccine in stock to immunise every adult in Bermuda.

Renee Ming, the national security minister, outlined the supervised quarantine programme which will begin on June 8.

She said all non-immunised visitors would be required to stay at a designated hotel – currently Grotto Bay ($290 per person), Hamilton Princess ($356 per night) and Coco Reef ($200 for single occupancy and $220 for double occupancy) – for 14 days at their own expense.

Ms Ming said the government spent $1.5 million on quarantine in 2020 and could not afford to do the same this year.

She said some people – those under 17 or over 65 and people with medical conditions – would be exempted from the requirement, as would bona fide medical companions.

People who left Bermuda before the requirement was put in place or were ineligible for vaccines could be exempted, which would have to be approved by the health ministry.

Earlier, Ms Wilson said Bermuda recorded three new cases of Covid-19 and the number of active cases dropped to 326.

Kim Wilson said 14 people are in hospital with two in critical care.

Of the three new cases two were locally transmitted from a known source and one is under investigation. The average number of cases under investigation is four, which is below the average number of seven required for social distancing restrictions to be relaxed.

Bermuda’s positivity rate today is 0.2 per cent – below one per cent – and the reproduction rate is 0.52 – below one.

Ms Wilson emphasised the need to continue to wear masks and to observe social distancing in order to restrict the risk of community transmission.

Earlier, David Burt, the Premier, offered condolences to the families of two men killed in road crashes this week and to the families of six people who died of coronavirus since the last press conference.

Mr Burt said his government did not like having to impose restrictions or quarantine requirements.

He said: “I do not like this policy one bit. I did not enjoy having the state of emergency. I dislike telling people they cannot go to church or to school.

“But what I may like or what may be convenient to people must take a back seat to keeping Bermuda safe.

He added: “Too many people have died as a result of this outbreak. Too many people have gone hungry as a result of this outbreak. There is a moral imperative to do what we must to keep that kind of pain and upset from continuing.“

Mr Burt said home quarantining still presented risk. People could still visit them when they could still test positive on a day 8 or day 14 test, he said.

As a result, Bermuda could find itself back at square one, he said. Supervised quarantine reduced the risk of the virus spreading, especially of new variants.

Mr Burt said supervised quarantine would end when the pandemic ended. He said over time, adjustments could be made depending on Bermuda’s success in reaching community protection.

He also said government would consider rating countries based on their safety levels. But he noted the US, UK and Canada all had community transmission and all had cases of the most virulent variants.

Mr Burt also provided statistics on unemployment benefits. He said $4.1 million had been paid out in unemployment benefits since December 2020.

He said 1,500 people were paid $1 million this week. he said some applications were delayed due to incomplete forms.

He said 3,500 people had applied for the unemployment benefit since April 13. Three thousand of those applications has been approved and work was continuing on the remaining 600.

He also said 1,300 people had received $2.2 million in payments for benefits which were separate from the unemployment benefit.

Of that number, $1.6 million had been paid to bar and restaurant workers affected by mandatory closures, a further $500,000 had been paid to people who were quarantined and unable to work from home.

And $130,000 was paid to people working in businesses other than bars and restaurants which had been forced to close.

Mr Burt also said the education minister, Diallo Rabain, King Edward VII Memorial Hospital chief of staff Dr Wesley Miller and Chief Medical Officer Dr Ayoola Oyinloye would be present to answer questions.

Dr Oyinloye revealed that no people who were fully immunised had died of Covid-19. He said one person who had had two doses of the vaccine had died, but he said that person already had Covid-19 when they received the first dose and it should not have been administered.

He also said that more than 90 per cent of the victims of Covid-19 in Bermuda were Black.

The chief medical officer also revealed that government was in favour of allowing 12 to 15-year-olds to receive the Pfizer vaccine but he said the agreement with the UK which supplied the vaccine required that it only be given to 18-year-olds.

He said discussions with the UK were underway to see if this agreement could be adjusted.

Asked what steps were being taken to get Bermuda to her community protection by the end of May by vaccinating 70 per cent of the population, Mr Burt said this was the reason the close to home vaccination programme was underway and was seeing some success.

He also noted that vaccination rates in the over 65 population were nearing 70 per cent and this should be celebrated.

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Published May 06, 2021 at 7:40 pm (Updated May 06, 2021 at 7:40 pm)

Live: Three new Covid-19 cases today, phase 2 starts on Sunday

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