Commercial flights to resume in Phase 4
Passenger flights to the island are expected to lift off at the start of next month, the transport minister said last night.
But Zane DeSilva emphasised that industry talks continued to finalise regulations needed to protect “Bermuda and her people from the spread of Covid-19”.
He said: “I can now confirm that the decision has been made to resume commercial flights in Phase 4, which is expected to happen on July 1.”
Mr DeSilva outlined a five-stage plan for visitors — pre-departure, in flight, on arrival, on island and return home.
Among the requirements likely to be included are a clear coronavirus test inside 72 hours before departure and the wearing of face masks on the flight.
Mr DeSilva said: “As soon as possible following arrival in Bermuda, every passenger must undergo Covid-19 testing either at the airport or at their accommodations. Depending on the volume of tests, the results are expected to be received within 24 hours, but in most cases, the turnaround time will be less than eight hours.”
He added guests would have to quarantine in their accommodation until their test results were delivered and that their temperature would be taken twice a day throughout their stay.
Mr DeSilva said it was thought that tourists who tested clear before and after arrival would have free movement “adhering to the health guidelines available at the time”.
Glenn Jones, the Bermuda Tourism Authority's interim chief executive, welcomed the “safe and responsible” return of air visitors and said that the Government's plan was “rigorous”.
He added: “The tourism recovery will be gradual and the return of visitor demand will build slowly.
“We know there are travellers anxious to experience this precious resource we call home.
“It's up to all of us to ensure their warm welcome and the healthy return of our valuable tourism economy, as we collectively prioritise keeping our island home safe.”
David Burt, the Premier, warned that the July 1 date was not set in stone.
He said it was expected the island would move to Phase 4, then “if all continues to go well”.
Mr Burt added that the Cabinet had agreed a one-month extension to the unemployment benefits scheme for people laid off because of the pandemic.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said that all of the 71 Covid-19 test results that came back yesterday were clear.
She added that it was the eleventh day in a row without any new cases. The total number of recorded cases remains at 141.
Ms Wilson said there were five active cases and that one was in hospital, but not critical care.
Nine people with the disease have died and 127 people have recovered.
Ms Wilson said that the Ministry of Health was working with The MarketPlace supermarket chain on “pop-up” test stations at its stores around the island throughout June.
She added: “The test is safe, quick and convenient. We understand not everyone is able to drive to our Southside testing location and we want to ensure that anybody who wants to know their Covid status is able to do so.
“The grocery stores offer a convenient location for staff, shoppers and for the general public.”
Ms Wilson said: “It's important for the public to know that they will not be impacted by the testing stations and are not at risk in any way.
“Testing will take place in secure areas of the parking lots, not inside the stores.”
Bookings can be made on the Government's coronavirus website or through the Covid-19 hotline on 444-2498 between 9am and 9pm.
Seth Stutzman, the president of The MarketPlace group of companies, said: “In addition to increased sanitisation of our stores, providing our associates with appropriate personal protective equipment, and following public health guidelines, this partnership with the Ministry of Health is a natural next step for us as we continually ensure a safe environment for our associates, customers and the communities that we serve, which is our highest priority.
“We're all in this together and many of us can play greater roles in supporting the Government's efforts and that's what we are doing.”
Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said that people could now be out on boats until 10pm and that the new curfew would be enforced by the Bermuda Coastguard.
Police and Royal Bermuda Regiment troops are also expected to increase their presence on the island's roads over the three-day holiday weekend.
They will carry out checks during the 11pm to 5am curfew hours.
Mr Caines said that gatherings at parks and beaches were allowed in Phase 3, which started yesterday, but that they would close at 8pm.
He added that there was no longer a one-person limit at laundromats and people could use the businesses on any day of the week.
Mr Burt added that residents with surnames starting with A to F could shop in grocery stores after 1pm on Sunday this week because of the public holiday the next day.
The Government also announced that a full bus schedule will start next Monday. A Department of Public Transportation spokesman told the public: “As a reminder, all passengers must wear a face mask when travelling on the public bus and travel only for essential purposes and never if you have cold or flu-like symptoms.”
• The bus schedule is available online at www.gov.bm/bus
• To view the statements from the Minister of Tourism and Transport, the Minister of Health and the Minister of National Security, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”