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Senators urge irresponsible minority to follow rules

Collective responsibility: Opposition senator Marcus Jones said that everyone needed to obey Covid-19 safety regulations (File photograph)

The current Covid-19 crisis dominated debate during the Motion to Adjourn in the Senate yesterday.

The Opposition’s Marcus Jones began the session urging everyone to follow government safety regulations and guidelines.

He claimed that the current spike in cases had been caused by people behaving irresponsibly.

He said: “We as a people are not following the protocols and guidelines that are being put out by government.

“It is very important that every man, woman, boy and girl pay attention to the guidelines that were put in place.”

He said that restrictions had been necessary to ensure that the hospital was not overstretched. But he added: “We’re seeing that those limitations are being pushed and being challenged.

“We are going through a major crisis and that means everyone has to be on high alert and sacrifice their own needs and likes and come under the instructions and guidelines that will help the country as a whole.”

He said the needs of the many outweighed those of the minority.

He said: “I was not quick to get a vaccination right away – I’ve never had a flu shot in all my life. But I realised that my own individual needs were insufficient for me not to.”

Senator Jones also criticised David Burt, the Premier, for a lack of leadership during the current wave.

He said that Mr Burt had had a high profile early on in the pandemic, when the Government was being applauded for its handling of the crisis.

But he said that the Premier had stepped out of the spotlight in recent weeks after the number of cases began to escalate.

Owen Darrell, the junior minister of education, hit back, claiming that the Government had shown strong leadership.

He said: “Leadership is difficult. We’re not going to make excuses or shy away from those tough decisions and leadership.”

He accused the Opposition of failing to put forward solutions to the pandemic and said it had no coherent plan.

Opposition senator Robin Tucker said she found it “personally devastating” that 62 people had died from the virus.

“I want to focus on the fact that these are all human beings and they represent a family member of a friend,” she said.

“It is personally devastating to me that we have lost 62 Bermudians to Covid and we could have possibly prevented most of them.

“There is a population in this country that has been very irresponsible with not carrying out what the Government has required that they do.

“Our best defence against Covid is being vaccinated. We are now beyond the niceties. We can ill-afford to continue to stroke people in the hope they will do what is necessary to protect themselves and this community.”

Opposition Senate leader Ben Smith said the impact of the Delta variant was “absolutely devastating”.

“We cannot afford to see our country continue in the direction that it is – to see the number of people in this country die and become infected,” he said.

Mr Smith said a “large minority” of people were getting information about the virus from the internet rather than speaking to doctors and scientists.

He said: “It’s time for our leadership to speak up and say we’ve had enough. The silence cannot continue any longer.

“There are people in our population who have not been listening to the rules. The reason we have a police force is to enforce the group that doesn’t follow the rules.

“That’s our problem. Where we are right now, that minority is impacting the majority because they don’t want to follow the rules.”

Government Senate Leader Ernest Peets wrapped up the session by pointing out that the current death toll was not as high as early models had predicted.

He said: “I’m glad that, for the PLP’s leadership, those numbers have not been realised. We are as a government devastated and very much concerned by this fourth wave.”

Senator Peets said that vaccination efforts and testing rates had been “admirable”.

But he added that Covid “didn’t come with a play book” and that other countries with more resources than Bermuda were struggling to contain the virus.