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Emotional Burt admits Cup Match under threat

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Cup Match this year was thrown into further doubt last night after David Burt admitted it was hard to see how the Annual Classic could go ahead.

The Premier warned viewers on a live Facebook conversation that it was not a time to relax as Bermuda prepared to begin to emerge from shelter-in-place restrictions tomorrow.

He said: “It is hard to envision a situation where Cup Match, as we know it, can happen this year.

“Anyone who knows me knows how much I love that — I'm almost tearing up mentioning that in this particular instance — but we'll see when it comes closer to the time.”

Mr Burt reminded that in the last of four phases of the island's transition to a “new normal”, public gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 50 people.

He said: “I think there's a little bit more than 50 people that go up to Cup Match.”

Mr Burt was joined by Kim Wilson, the health minister, Wayne Caines, the national security minister, and Lawrence Scott, a Progressive Labour Party MP and chairman of the airport authority, to take questions submitted by the public.

Mr Burt explained that raft-ups and house parties with more than ten people were still against the law.

He warned: “Covid-19 is still a threat to Bermuda and people should not think that because we have wide-scale testing and other things it's just time to relax — that is not the case.

“If we do not do what is necessary and observe those rules, we're going to find ourselves possibly back in shelter-in-place — and that is where no one wants to be.”

Mr Burt added: “We are not out of the woods yet.”

Mr Scott said it was “likely” that people who attended school and college in Britain would be able to return in September.

However, he said: “I can't make any promises”.

He added there would be an impact on construction of the new airport terminal, although there were clauses in the agreement with developer Aecon that covered contingencies such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Scott said two companies, Delta Air Lines and WestJet, had offered to resume service to the island “as soon as we are ready”.

Mr Burt hoped residents would take the opportunity to enjoy hotels on the island.

He said: “One of the things we need to do is that we need to encourage more ‘staycations', clearly, to keep our hotels working and keep our staff there.

“Bermudian residents spend in excess of $300 million a year in external travel — that is a significant amount.

“If that amount of money was put here to work in our economy, in our hotels with ‘staycations' and other types of things, as long as we practise social-distancing, that would certainly be helpful.”

The Premier explained that post office services were expected to restart next week from 8am until 3pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

He told the public: “There may be temperature checks before you enter the building.”

Ms Wilson explained that “increased testing capabilities” meant that people who had tested positive for Covid-19 could be retested “to make sure that the test result is negative before they can effectively be deemed as healed ... and enter the community”.

She revealed that a little more than 2,500 people, about 4 per cent of the population, had been tested for the coronavirus.

Ms Wilson said a rise in hospital admissions for the virus or signs of community transmission would mean “we will have to start looking at suppression measures”, including the possibility of a return to shelter in place regulations.

Mr Caines added that elements of the Royal Bermuda Regiment would still be required to help check traffic on the roads and that he would announce the number of soldiers that would need to be embodied later.

He said the decision would be made at a meeting of the Emergency Measures Organisation today.

Mr Caines said the shelter for homeless people at CedarBridge Academy at Prospect had done a good job.

He added he had visited the shelter on Tuesday and that some people who struggled with addiction had reported they were clean for the first time in years.

Mr Caines said: “This shelter-in-place has given them some hope.”

He added the immigration department will reopen with a skeleton staff on Monday.

Work-permit applications will be processed based on a phased approach from May 11, but Mr Caines said the department would tackle a backlog in applications first.

Short-term emergency applications will also be accepted.

Mr Burt closed the online session, which lasted about 90 minutes, with a reminder to “remain vigilant”.

He told the public: “You have to protect yourselves and each other.”

David Burt, the Premier, left, with Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 01, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated May 01, 2020 at 10:54 am)

Emotional Burt admits Cup Match under threat

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