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Petition calls for Premier’s resignation over St Regis event

David Burt, the Premier, delivers a speech at the opening of the St Regis Bermuda Resort on Saturday (Photograph supplied)

An online petition has been launched to ask for the resignation of the Premier over alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations.

The change.org petition, posted under the name Agnes Butterfield, alleged that David Burt had breached SafeKey rules at the opening of the St Regis resort in St George’s, on Saturday, May 22.

Ms Butterfield wrote: “We are calling on David Burt to step down as he has demonstrated that he can not follow his own rules as clearly outlined by him and his government.

“We feel that this breach makes his position as Premier of Bermuda untenable and we are calling for his resignation immediately.”

The petition said the Premier had failed to wear a mask while standing and did not maintain social distancing.

A video from the event circulated on social media showed the Premier on a balcony at the resort without a mask among a group of other people.

The Royal Gazette attempted to contact Agnes Butterfield on Facebook but without success. Mr Burt was also approached for comment.

But Dawn Simmons, the Progressive Labour Party chairwoman, said the petition was out of order.

Ms Simmons said: “The Premier is fully vaccinated and was following the rules. That is not a reason for resignation.”

She added: “Strong leadership is about making tough decisions.

“The PLP government has had to make tough decisions in order to bring the coronavirus under control, even in the face of intense pressure to do otherwise.

“The Premier spent 14 days isolated from his family, and understands first-hand the mental and emotional stress this pandemic has wrought on Bermuda’s families.”

Cole Simons, the Leader of the Opposition, said the petition was a sign of the public’s anger at the Premier’s “double standards” over Covid-19 regulations.

Mr Simons added: “For over a year the Premier and the Minister of Health have called for and insisted that our community wear our masks and ensure that we all adhere to social distancing.

“The behaviour demonstrated at last the event would not have been accepted had this been an event held as a private event at one‘s home.

“In the end, the Premier cannot make an excuse for this behaviour.”

Mr Simons said Mr Burt should be held accountable for his “lapse of judgment” and apologise to the people of Bermuda.

He added: “If we are to arrest this pandemic, all of Bermuda must adhere to Bermuda’s Covid-19 mitigation protocols without exception.

“This must apply to the Governor, the Premier, the man in the street and everyone in between.

“This petition is an indication that some people in Bermuda want principled leadership.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “In a democracy, every individual or group of persons have the right to express themselves and their views as they see fit.”

She added: “Saturday’s event is cause for celebration and all media coverage outside of Bermuda has described how extraordinary it is for a luxury property to open on time and on budget in the midst of a global pandemic.

“Demonstrating the technology that will allow a faster return to normality was an important part of Saturday’s event which enjoyed bipartisan support and attendance.”

The spokeswoman said: “With indoor dining now being enjoyed, hundreds of laid-off workers have been able to return to full-time employment. They can provide for their families, pay their bills and hold their heads high again as the weight of restrictions are lifted by the very technology that was used for the St. Regis large group exemption.

“Economic recovery is the Government’s focus and that work is evident across the Island and it will be the constant effort until we see the recovery needed for our people.”

Mr Burt discussed the St Regis event at Tuesday’s Covid-19 briefing and insisted the regulations were followed, but admitted that “the optics were not good”.

He said: “I will accept that, when there’s a time when so many people are struggling, to see what appeared to be a celebration – it was a formal event where there were speeches.

“They took us out to the balcony for a champagne toast – but I completely accept that the optics were not good.

“But what I can say is that we took great care to make sure that the event did not contravene the guidelines and we went through and made sure that we issued SafeKeys for the invited guests.

“Those persons were immunised. The guidelines were stated last week by the Minister of Health.

“We accept the fact there is criticism but the one thing I can say is it is about what the future will look like – we want to reclaim what our future is going to be this summer.”