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Covid restrictions stepped up after increase in Delta cases

Patrons of bars and restaurants will have to prove they do not have the Covid-19 virus or are immunised, under new public safety regulations due to come into force tomorrow.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, announced the measure last night after 52 new cases of the virus were recorded yesterday.

Ms Wilson said that SafeKey will now be required for anyone attending indoor public spaces where masks are permitted to be removed. These include indoor dining, bars, clubs, and sports clubs as well as gyms and fitness facilities.

SafeKey will also be required to board all island boats with more than 20 passengers, and all new large group exemptions.

Ms Wilson said: “The scale of this outbreak is such that we must make some adjustments to the Public Health regulations and protocols. We cannot ignore the fact that we now have 113 active cases.”

But she added that the fact that 75 per cent of the “eligible population” had been vaccinated gave Bermuda some protection.

The number of people who have had a second jab now stands at 64.6 per cent of the population – an increase of just 0.5 per cent on two weeks ago.

She said: “This is not 2020 and the progress we have made in vaccinating 75 per cent of our eligible population means that we can adjust but not interrupt our everyday lives and continue to safely enjoy this summer.

“What we are doing now is designed not only to continue to protect the vulnerable and prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed, which remains our overall goal, but to also protect our students' return to school.

“While there is not a risk to the hospital being overwhelmed at this time, we must continue to abide by the basic and effective actions that help to protect us, protect others and reduce the spread of the coronavirus.”

Last week David Burt, the Premier, said that public safety regulations could be relaxed because vaccination rates had increased, albeit marginally, in the last month.

But a spike in cases in the past week has seen Government perform an about turn. Yesterday Ms Wilson confirmed that Cabinet would toughen up public safety regulations “given the increasing cases and positivity rates”.

Last night she said that Government health guidelines were proving effective – if they were followed.

She said: “Events, where the public health guidelines are followed, are so far proving to be safe.

“Large events where attendees are confirmed as fully vaccinated or have tested negative within 72 hours of the event and therefore are in possession of a SafeKey are also proving to be safe thus far.

“We remain in a global pandemic. We have an outbreak to manage locally and settings in which masks are permitted to be removed are the greatest risk for spreading of the virus.

“We must further mitigate that risk. Implementing the use of SafeKey in these settings is the best available tool for us to adjust but not interrupt our lives, our economy, and all of the activities which we have safely enjoyed this summer, unlike last year.”

The new restrictions will come into effect at 6pm tomorrow.

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Published August 19, 2021 at 8:50 am (Updated August 19, 2021 at 8:50 am)

Covid restrictions stepped up after increase in Delta cases

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