Burt tells PLP herd immunity will end mandatory quarantine
Mandatory hotel quarantining will be in place for at least another three months – despite claims by the Premier that the controversial policy could be ditched as soon as Bermuda achieves herd immunity from the Covid-19 virus.
David Burt made the pledge to Progressive Labour Party members in a letter sent out to grassroots supporters on Tuesday morning.
But last night a Government spokeswoman insisted that, under public health safety orders, quarantining would be mandatory until at least September 30, when the policy was due to expire and would be reviewed.
In his letter – issued just hours before a demonstration against Government was held at the Cabinet Office – Mr Burt said: “As I shared with our party’s central committee last night, mandatory hotel quarantine is set to expire when Bermuda reaches the threshold of 70 per cent of our population being fully immunised.
“But until then we must do all that we can to protect our borders and minimise the risk of a new outbreak.”
The Royal Gazette has been unable to find any public statements from Mr Burt on when mandatory hotel quarantining may end and it has never been explicitly linked to reaching 70 percent herd immunity. Mr Burt made no reference to it during Tuesday evening’s Covid-19 press conference.
In the letter, first reported on Bermuda Real and obtained by The Royal Gazette from a party source, Mr Burt defended other controversial policies that had drawn fire from his own backbenchers.
And he claimed he was personally coming under attack “in an attempt to destroy this great party”.
This newspaper yesterday e-mailed spokespeople for the Premier, the Minister of Health, and the Progressive Labour Party, asking when the decision on ending mandatory hotel quarantining was made, the reasoning behind it, and whether the Premier had issued a public statement on the plan.
Last night the Premier’s spokeswoman issued a statement that appeared to contradict the Premier’s claims. The spokeswoman also asked that the statement be attributed to a Government spokeswoman, rather than the Premier.
She said: “As per the Quarantine (Covid-19) (No. 3) Order 2021, the current mandatory hotel quarantine ends on September 30.
“At that time, the Government will assess the current conditions in the country, as they pertain to the coronavirus and the corresponding public health advice, to determine the most effective policy to mitigate the risk of spread of the virus and protect our borders.”
A PLP spokeswoman said last night that the party did not comment on internal communications to members.
No response from Health Minister Kim Wilson was received by press time last night.
Last night Michael Dunkley, the Opposition spokesman for health, said the letter demonstrated that Mr Burt had lost both direction and trust.
Mr Dunkley said: “"Sadly, for all of Bermuda, Premier Burt and the PLP have become lost in the triangle recently with their handling of Covid.
“This letter to party members illustrates such – even his own base has become fed up by their decisions and by not listening to the people we serve.
“Since the October 2020 election, and the vast majority provided, confidence and trust in them has eroded greatly. For the good of the country, Mr Burt and his colleagues must listen to the people and rebuild trust."
In his letter, Mr Burt claimed criticisms were being posted anonymously “from those persons who do not support the PLP Government’s policies to keep the country safe”.
Mr Burt said: “Many of you have reached out to me to express your concern, and to ask how I am doing.
“I am fine. I am fine because your PLP Government has led during tough times and we are continuing to lead in tough times. I am fine because I am backed by a strong team who understands that tough decisions must be made and that the decisions we are making are in the best interest of the health of all Bermudians.
“In the lead up to the last two elections, there were those who tried to attack me personally in an attempt to try to destroy this great party.
“They are doing it again. It did not work then and it won’t work now. We will continue to stand firm to protect our health, and push forward to implement our election pledges.”
The Premier also defended another controversial Covid-19 public safety policy that had resulted in criticism of his Government.
He acknowledged that travel authorisation forms had required to enter the country had suffered “teething problems”.
He said: “Though Bermuda has required a travel authorisation for the last year, the new information needed to be submitted has caused stress for travellers and increased calls for assistance.”
But he added: “However, we’ve made lots of progress in the last week making things better for travellers.”