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UK flight to bring home stranded Bermudians

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A charter flight is to bring home Bermudians stranded in Britain next Friday — along with a cargo of coronavirus test kits.

David Burt, the Premier, said yesterday that some of the test kits bought by the Cayman Islands were sold on to Bermuda and had been waiting in London.

Mr Burt explained that the Caymanian Government had bought a large quantity of the kits “in order to get to the front of the line”.

He said: “The reason they are selling them is that there is more than they need.”

Mr Burt added: “We are going to take an allotment of those, and I am in conversations with the Premier of the Cayman Islands because we want to make sure that as many of our Caricom countries who may need additional tests, that are having difficulties placing small orders, can play a part in that.”

He was speaking after John Rankin, the Governor, said that the British Airways charter flight would lift off from London's Heathrow on April 24.

He said the flight would provide an opportunity for people in Bermuda to fly to Britain on the return leg the next day. The cost either way will be £500 (about $625).

Mr Rankin said the flight would also deliver protective equipment.

He added: “Let me join in thanking the vast majority of people on this island who understand the contingent need of the social-distancing and other shelter-in-place arrangements, which are still required at this time.

“They are a disruption to normal life. I know they're not easy. But they help to keep us safe.”

Mr Burt said the British Airways relief flight, the second of its kind, was arranged by Government House and the Cabinet Office with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Government's London office.

He added it would be restricted to people “ordinarily resident in Bermuda” — students or people stranded while travelling.

Mr Burt said that anyone who returned to the island would have to pay $100 a night for food and accommodation while quarantined.

The news came as Kim Wilson, the health minister, said no new Covid-19 cases had emerged after 20 more test results had come back.

The total number of cases remains at 83 and 35 people had recovered.

Ms Wilson had said that nine people were still in hospital and the death toll of five had not increased.

Wayne Caines, the national security minister, announced changes to the surname system for visits to grocery stores and gas stations, which will start on Monday. Laundromats will also be allowed to open.

He said that people with last names from A to F could shop on Mondays and Thursdays and people with surnames from G to Q could shop on Tuesdays and Fridays.

People with surnames from R to Z will be able to shop on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Mr Caines added that Sundays would be reserved for people aged 55 and over, the disabled, essential personnel and workers not required to work from home.

He explained that laundromats must have permission to open and, if granted, could operate from Monday to Friday between 7am and 7pm.

Mr Caines said that only one customer would be allowed inside the premises at a time and attendance must be by appointment.

Restrictions were also relaxed for hardware stores, plant nurseries, shipping companies, and taxi and delivery services.

Details of the changes are available on the Bermuda Government's website.

To read David Burt's prepared speech in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”

David Burt, the Premier, centre is flanked by Kim Wilson, the health minister, left, and Wayne Caines, the national security minister (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Graphic by Christina White
Graphic by Christina White
<p>Reader’s Questions</p>

Question: “Given Bermuda’s rates of diabetes and obesity, is the Government concerned that the shelter-in-place regulations may be promoting unhealthy and sedentary lifestyles?” — Shel

Response: “I appreciate the question and I think that it’s important to recognise that we allow persons to leave their house for exercise and persons can exercise in their yard all day or either inside of their house. But the reason why parks are not being opened, etcetera, is because when you have shelter-in place, you have to focus on how you can enforce that. If you have different things about parks and people not doing social-distancing, you add more places for enforcement and that defeats the purpose. We have seen those in other countries, where they tried to do that and rely on persons in society to follow the rules, and they haven’t. We want this to be as short a period as possible and that is the reason why we have been so restrictive. I think that people are actually bored of being in their house on their phones and are going with their families for a walk and that is something that is encouraged and I hope that is something that continues even after the shelter-in-place.” — David Burt, the Premier

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Published April 18, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 18, 2020 at 3:07 pm)

UK flight to bring home stranded Bermudians

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