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Burt: St Regis celebration optics were not good

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The Premier tonight admitted that “the optics were not good” after he attended a champagne celebration at the opening of a new hotel at the weekend.

But he insisted that Covid-19 safety regulations were not breached at last Saturday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony at the St. Regis resort in St. George’s and that guests had signed up for the new SafeKey system.

Mr Burt said the event was “what the future will look like”.

But he added: “I will accept that, when there’s a time when so many people are struggling, to see what appeared to be a celebration – it was a formal event where there were speeches.

“They took us out to the balcony for a champagne toast – but I completely accept that the optics were not good.

“But what I can say is that we took great care to make sure that the event did not contravene the guidelines, and we went through and made sure that we issued SafeKeys for the invited guests.

“Those persons were immunised. The guidelines were stated last week by the Minister of Health.

“We accept the fact there is criticism but the one thing I can say is it is about what the future will look like – we want to reclaim what our future is going to be this summer.

“We have done excellent work to get this far and I think it is important to note … that we can look forward to having events in the future.”

Mr Burt was speaking at the regular Covid-19 update after video of the event got wide circulation on social media and attracted some criticism.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, said over 50 per cent of the population had been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Ms Wilson added that no new cases of the coronavirus were found among 927 tests that came back to health officials today.

There are 42 active cases, with 40 people under public health monitoring and two people in hospital, one in intensive care.

A total of 15 people have recovered and the death toll remained at 32.

Ms Wilson told the public that the island was “reaching a milestone as there are two weeks left to assure yourself of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine”.

The island’s stock of the vaccines will expire on June 30 and the final date to obtain a first dose is June 8.

Ms Wilson said: “Our number of confirmed positive cases continues to decrease and, after a very long year battling the coronavirus, things are improving.”

Ms Wilson said yesterday had been a “monumental” occasion as Bermuda donated 9,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Trinidad & Tobago to “limit vaccine wastage”.

She added more of the vaccine would be sourced in the next few months, but there were no guaranteed dates for the next shipment.

Ms Wilson said that more work had to be done before the jab could be administered to children aged 12 to 15.

She added a panel of experts would take part in a broadcast at 8pm tomorrow to explain coronavirus testing and “debunk myths” about administering the vaccine to children aged under 16.

Mobile vaccinations are scheduled for this weekend at the National Sports Centre in Devonshire, which will include giveaways donated by the private sector.

Walk-ins for vaccination will be also be seen on Saturday and Sunday at the special clinic at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

The clinics will move to the Shelly Bay MarketPlace on June 1, TN Tatem Middle School in Warwick on June 3 and the Victor Scott Primary School in Pembroke on June 6.

Mr Burt gave an update on the SafeKey programme, designed to allow activities such as indoor dining for people with the full course of vaccination or with recent clear coronavirus tests.

Mr Burt said tourists would also be able to use SafeKey after they received clear test results for the coronavirus.

A total of 13,410 e-mails had been sent out with SafeKey codes by today and Mr Burt said all fully vaccinated people should have their codes by Friday.

He emphasised the SafeKey codes could not be tracked – and that they would not be needed after on-island transmission of the coronavirus was eliminated and the country moved to Phase 3 on the three-stage road to recovery.

But mandatory 14-day quarantines of non-immunised travellers in designated centres will go ahead on June 6.

Mr Burt said: “I have often said Bermuda can’t afford another stay at home period or restrictions on economic activity.

“This remains the case and all our efforts are designed to ensure we do not go back to that.”

Mr Burt added: “As the public debate indicates, these are sensitive issues.

“Our thinking must be centred on public health concerns as well as the unenviable requirement to adopt policies that are not popular.”

Mr Burt read out a letter of thanks from the Government of Trinidad & Tobago for the vaccines provided by Bermuda.

Wesley Miller, Bermuda Hospitals Board’s chief of staff said none of the 32 people whose deaths were linked to Covid-19 were fully vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine plus two weeks.

Dr Miller added: “It takes us to the important point that if you’re fully immunised, even if you were to get Covid, you certainly do not die from it.

“That’s a remarkable fact. It’s for that reason I would encourage people to go out and get vaccinated.”

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Published May 26, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated May 27, 2021 at 8:09 am)

Burt: St Regis celebration optics were not good

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