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Premier targets imminent launch of Phase 2

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An enhanced second phase of a return to normal life could start before next weekend, the Premier signalled yesterday.

David Burt said that a special sitting of the Cabinet will be held tomorrow to map out what will be included in the next stage.

He said at a briefing: “When we announced our multiphase strategy, we laid out what each phase would look like.

“For phase two, we stated that our intended expansion of services would include the reopening of retail establishments with strict physical-distancing and limited allowance of personal services, such as hairdressers and barbers, with strict restrictions governed by the Ministry of Health and personal protective equipment use to be required.

“I can confirm that this list may be expanded and will, perhaps, contain some elements originally proposed for phase three.”

Mr Burt added: “What I have stated above, however, will be at a minimum of what Bermuda can expect to be the essential elements of phase two.

“It is my intention that phase two will commence before next weekend, but this will be confirmed by the Cabinet on Sunday.”

Kim Wilson, the health minister, said that 244 test results had come back yesterday with one positive result.

The total number of confirmed cases was 123, with 69 people recovered.

Seven people are in hospital including two in critical care, and the number of deaths remained at nine.

Ms Wilson added that 39 of the tests came in from abroad and 72 were on-island transmissions through a known contact.

A total of seven people contracted the disease from an unidentified contact and another five cases were under investigation.

She explained that the unknown contact cases were not enough to take the island to the status of “community transmission”, which was earlier said to be when experts could not connect a large number of new cases to confirmed cases.

Ms Wilson said: “This is as good as an outcome as we could have hoped for in the midst of a global pandemic.”

But she warned against complacency and added that the Rt number — the estimated real-time reproduction number of the coronavirus — had increased to 0.99 from the 0.47 announced on Wednesday.

Ms Wilson said: “It is still below 1, however, the rapid increase is a stark reminder, and a timely reminder, of how volatile the reproduction number is, in a tiny population such as ours and why we cannot rely on it exclusively to inform all of our decisions.”

The health minister added that 37 people had been treated in the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for Covid-19 so far and the highest number of patients at any one time was 16.

She said that 536 hospital and Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute patients had been tested for the disease, including those in two long term care wards.

Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said police had arrested four people over the past two weeks for a breach of lockdown regulations.

He added: “As Bermuda continues to experience warmer weather, we are mindful that our residents will be taking to the beaches and water for recreational activities.

“Please note, the Bermuda Coastguard will be out in full effect this weekend, to enforce the emergency powers regulations, specifically as it relates to the restrictions to recreational boating activity.”

Mr Caines said: “We remind the boating public that no more than ten passengers are permitted on a boat, all of whom must be members of the same household.

“Again, raft-ups are prohibited, and the recreational boating curfew is 7pm, not 10pm.”

Mr Caines said that the prison system had started a “recovery plan” on May 4 and that non-security staff were returning to work in phases.

He added: “Staffing levels have not been impacted and staff continue to carry out their duties professionally, despite the challenges the Island faces.”

Mr Caines said there were no Covid-19 cases among staff or inmates in the prisons.

Mr Burt revealed that technology to track “strict enforcement of home quarantine” was expected to be introduced within the next month, which would mean government quarantine centres at could be closed.

He added: “This new technology solution can also support the move to regular scheduled air travel as persons will be required to quarantine upon arrival.”

Mr Burt explained that the Government was monitoring the development and use of apps to battle the spread of Covid-19 in other countries “with a keen eye”, but would not rush the implementation of new technology.

He added that “internal” pilots of Bluetooth and GPS-based techniques designed to help contact tracing were being carried out.

He added that surveys would help to gauge public support and that Alexander White, the Privacy Commissioner, would be consulted if the introduction of tracking apps was planned.

To view the full statements from the Premier, Minister of Health and Minister of National Security, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”

Graphic by Christina White
Graphic by Christina White
Graphic by Christina White
David Burt, the Premier, speaks at the press conference last night (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 16, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated May 17, 2020 at 1:32 am)

Premier targets imminent launch of Phase 2

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