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Hundreds protest Covid-19 rules at the Cabinet Office

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Protester Antonio Belvedere presents David Burt, the Premier, with a series of demands to scale back vaccine discrimination and to reduce social distancing rules at the Cabinet building yesterday (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Several hundred people gathered at the Cabinet Office yesterday to present a series of demands to end travel restrictions and other Covid-19 prevention measures.

Hundreds march on the Cabinet building in protest of Governments Covid restrictions and protocols (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The demands were presented to David Burt, the Premier, at about 11.40am.

The demands, presented by “concerned citizens”, included ending mandatory supervised quarantining for non-vaccinated residents returning to Bermuda from overseas and discriminatory practices for vaccinated and non-vaccinated people in the workplace.

They called for a reversion to travel requirements to the policies in place followed before May 2 followed by a reduction in testing for travellers.

Spokesman Antonio Belvedere also called for an end to vaccinations of children and young adults.

Hundreds march on the Cabinet building in protest of Governments Covid restrictions and protocols (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

He also demanded an end to PCR tests and their replacement with non-invasive saliva tests. He also called for an end to the alleged seizures of alternative tests by Customs at the Airport.

Hundreds march on the Cabinet building in protest of Governments Covid restrictions and protocols (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

He also called for the elimination of the SafeKey programme.

Hundreds march on the Cabinet building in protest of Governments Covid restrictions and protocols (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Accepting a letter from Mr Belvedere, Mr Burt said Bermuda was a strong and vibrant democracy and the most important thing in a democracy was for all people to be respected.

He said the demands, which he called “suggestions and recommendations“, would be given due consideration.

Hundreds march on the Cabinet building in protest of Governments Covid restrictions and protocols (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Surrounded by members of Cabinet, he said he and his colleagues were today discussing affordable access to healthcare which he said was something all Bermudians could unite behind.

“I am grateful we live in a democracy where everyone is free to express their opinion,” he said, before adding: “Thank you very much and have a great day.”

The crowd booed and jeered as he and the Cabinet walked back into the Cabinet building.

For more pictures of the protest, click here.

Later, activist Eugene Dean said the protesters had to take matters into their own hands if they were not being listened to.

He said: “We are here because we’re all concerned.

“There have been a number of concerns growing in the weeks and months, and those conversations and concerns have started to rise to the surface.

“Everyone may not agree with everything that everyone’s concerned about. But what unites us is that we all have concerns. We need to focus on the things that bring us together rather than the things that keep us apart.

“It is up to you to listen. Either you respect us or you don’t,” he said.

“As concerned citizens, we are writing to inform you that we have lost confidence in the ability of your Government to honour, respect and adequately represent the interests of Bermuda, its residents and its people in your management of the pandemic.

“Despite the fact that you have been granted emergency powers, we struggle to understand the legality of several of your mandates.

“We reject all discriminatory mandates and the divisiveness that has proliferated as a result of their implementation.

“We find ourselves appalled at the outright coercive tactics used to further what appears to be illusive agendas that remain unclear to all of us outside of your immediate circles.

“Your inability to manage the unintended consequences associated with the roll-out of half-baked mandates have resulted in delays, gross inefficiencies, unnecessary costs, stress, frustration, and the aforementioned mandates being taken offline or reversed.

“There has been a lack of transparency and objectivity, an willingness to communicate and an outright disregard for input from the broader community.”

“What we have seen repeatedly throughout the course of the pandemic suggests that our concerns are relatively insignificant, and your primary interests lie elsewhere.

“While many of us were appreciative of your efforts initially, the general sense within the community is that you have now gone way too far.

“We are responsible for ourselves. We elect people to represent us. If we are not represented, what do we do? We take matters into our own hands.

“This is just the beginning. We are only starting. we will continue to move forward.”

Mr Belvedere then read out six recommendations that he urged Government to consider.

He called for the removal of all travel regulations, including the scrapping of mandatory quarantine.

He said discriminatory practices such where people are asked to reveal their vaccination status should end.

He said the vaccination programme for children should end along with PCR testing.

He added that the SafeKey programme should also be scrapped, and Government should focus on the management and treatment of the virus.

“The energy here is amazing today, Mr Belvedere said.

“It is diverse, it is equal, and that’s what we want. I know that in this crowd there are vaccinated and unvaccinated people and guess what? We don’t care.”

Lawyer Mark Pettingill, who is representing objectors to mandatory supervised quarantine paid for by the unvaccinated in hotels, said the question was whether the mandatory supervised quarantine requirements were reasonable.

He used an example of a vaccinated mother arriving in Bermuda with her children and testing positive for Covid-19. He said they would be allowed to go home to quarantine.

But he said an unvaccinated mother who tested negative would have to pay to stay in a hotel with her children for 14 days. He said this did not make sense.

Mr Pettingill said the whole Cabinet did not support the mandatory supervised quarantine programme.

“The fact is they do not all support it. We already know the back bench does not support it. I say they should take it to a vote in the House of Assembly. That has not happened. Before we get to messy court cases, let us take that simple step.

“I say to the Cabinet on this one they do not have it right. Let’s take a moment and get it right.”

Former One Bermuda Alliance Senator Vic Ball

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Published June 30, 2021 at 8:02 am (Updated June 30, 2021 at 8:02 am)

Hundreds protest Covid-19 rules at the Cabinet Office

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