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Spike in Covid-19 cases sparks increase in restrictions

David Burt The Premier (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Public gatherings will be restricted from tomorrow as Government moved to contain a jump in Covid-19 cases., the Premier said.

David Burt said last night that the move was made to prevent the risk that mass infections could overwhelm the healthcare system.

Bars and clubs that only serve alcohol and do not have outoor seating areas will be closed from tomorrow and will remain shuttered until at least December 22.

Mr Burt added that outdoor bars would be able to operate, but people seated at indoor bars would not be served. Food and drink service in restaurants will be restricted to people seated at tables and alcohol cannot be served after food service ends. Group numbers at tables would also be reduced. The number will be announced later.

The number of people allowed to gather together will be cut to 20 people unless a special exemption was granted.

In another restriction, churches must limit congregations to 20 per cent of capacity.

One of the triggers for increased restrictions was 35 new coronavirus cases in a week – which Mr Burt said had now been “exceeded”.

Mr Burt said: “I know that for many this news is difficult.”

“No decision is easy and no one is more disappointed than me that we have to move backwards.”

But he emphasised that it was “critical” that the public stuck to the new regulations.

He said: “Like the rest of the world Bermuda will be living with Covid-19 for some time.

“We must come together and work together. We will make it through as Bermudians.”

He said: “Our goal in implementing these restrictions is to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

“Our goal is to protect our healthcare system and these steps are necessary to do such.”

He added: “Our hospital is in decent shape with only two persons in hospital, only one in critical care”.

But he highlighted that the country must avoid being “in a dangerous place as we go forward”.

Mr Burt said he was aware of the economic impact of the measures and that the Minister of Finance would “make funds available to affected businesses” and that employees of the businesses would be eligible for supplementary benefits.

He added: “I do recognise there are economic consequences for businesses and recognise the economic consequences for individuals”.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, said that Bermuda had 63 active coronavirus cases.

A total of 16 of them came in from overseas and 30 happened through on-island transmission.

A further 17 are under investigation.

A total of 12 of the on-island transmissions were through household contact, 14 through workplace contact, and four through social contact.

Ms Wilson said that supplies of vaccinations against the coronavirus could be available as early as next week.

She added the “best case scenario” for a shipment organised by Public Health England was mid-month.

Ms Wilson said the UK-supplied vaccines would be sent from the United States rather than the United Kingdom for the sake of speed.

But she added vaccines would also be sourced from the Covax centre.

Ms Wilson said: “We are looking at two parallel options and we’re anticipating we have the vaccine as early as December.”

She added that healthcare workers and the most vulnerable, including rest home residents, would be given priority.

She urged the public to co-operate with health department contact trace teams in tracking down the spread of the virus in order to “potentially save a life”.

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Published December 07, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated December 07, 2020 at 10:16 am)

Spike in Covid-19 cases sparks increase in restrictions

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