Online tool to tackle price gouging
The public were enlisted last night in the fight against price gouging during the coronavirus crisis.
Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, said an online reporting system had been created after “numerous calls” about price increases in stores.
Mr Roban explained: “The cost of goods is a major concern to everyone in Bermuda.
“This online tool will allow residents to submit any information that they have on any allegations of possible price gouging in Bermuda.”
Price gouging is where a seller bumps up the cost of goods to an exploitative level because of demand — often after a disaster strikes.
Mr Roban added that people would be able to submit information on an anonymous basis and that complaints would be investigated by the price commissioner.
He said: “It must be understood that it is not the commission's remit to offer refunds — rather it is for business practices to be regulated so the consumer is protected from any unethical pricing methods that may be in place.”
Mr Roban also asked landlords and tenants to work together to overcome financial problems caused by the pandemic.
He said: “We are facing a situation that has never, ever been encountered before.
“Therefore, it requires new solutions — solutions that are not always ideal — but we must also show compassion for each other.”
Mr Roban added that landlord-tenant disputes could not be heard in the courts because of the lockdown and he asked landlords to help tenants who have lost their incomes.
He said any changes to a lease must be documented and agreed by both parties, including rent decreases or deferments.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said that no new Covid-19 cases or deaths were reported yesterday and that six people hit by the disease were still in hospital.
The total number of cases on the island remained at 39, with 21 patients recovered and ten under “active public health monitoring”.
Ms Wilson said: “Bermuda is testing as much as it can and ramping up to test more widely so we can detect cases early, isolate them and then follow up with their close contacts as quickly as possible.
“Our testing criteria has changed and is more wide-reaching. The World Health Organisation guidance, which we follow, has relaxed slightly so that the case definition no longer specifies the travel aspect for individuals who are suspect for Covid-19.
“Also, we are now testing persons with respiratory symptoms of any kind.”
Ms Wilson said patients who wanted to be tested must be assessed by their GP and referred to the epidemiology and surveillance unit.
She added that referred patients will not be required to pay for tests.
Ms Wilson said that geneticist Carika Weldon would assist the island's response to the crisis from quarantine, as she had just returned home from Britain.
Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said checkpoints were still catching people who were out on the roads without a legitimate reason.
Mr Caines said there were now 160 Royal Bermuda Regiment troops and police officers involved in checkpoint duty across the island.
He added that he had discussed an increase in the number of soldiers to provide even more manpower, but the exact number had not been determined.
Mr Caines said: “As we increase the numbers, we have to look at housing them with social distancing.
“There will be an increase. We will get the exact numbers tomorrow, but what I can say is we had just over 100 men and women on the streets on Tuesday and on Wednesday we had 160 with the checkpoints increased.
“The net effect was that people on the road would have noticed a greater, stronger and more robust presence from our uniformed services.”
Mr Roban urged the public to stick to the regulations imposed by the Government and highlighted the families plunged into mourning after the deaths of two people who had contracted Covid-19.
He said: “That was obviously a blow for everyone on the island yesterday.
“The Premier certainly reflected the feelings that we as a government, and I'm sure the public, had as a result of hearing that yesterday, but it needs to be emphasised that this virus can kill.
“Unfortunately, we have two families in Bermuda who have now experienced that pain that hundreds of thousands of people around the world have experienced.”