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Cricket SafeKey relaxation comes under fire from OBA

No consistency: Ben Smith, the Shadow Minister for Sport

An exemption for large groups to attend league cricket drew hundreds of spectators to matches over the weekend, but the relaxation of SafeKey rules drew criticism from the One Bermuda Alliance.

The “moving targets” in the island’s Covid-19 restrictions led to an accusation last night from the Opposition that the Government was “chopping and changing” its regulations.

Contact tracing was said to be in place at matches yesterday, which were permitted according to an exemption announced last Friday by Ernest Peets, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport.

The order stated that SafeKey technology, attesting that attendees are either fully vaccinated or recently tested negative for the coronavirus, was only required for gatherings of 275 or more, not 51 as previously determined.

But Ben Smith, the One Bermuda Alliance’s spokesman in the Senate for sport, said last night that the change of rules for league and county cricket games amounted to an “about face” that would “inevitably mean other sporting bodies and organisations will expect the same”.

He added: “I can appreciate that there is a delicate balance between health and returning to some form of normalcy, but there needs to be clear direction and it feels like there isn’t.”

Mr Smith queried the purpose of the coded SafeKey technology if it was going to be exempted at certain large gatherings.

He told The Royal Gazette: “If having SafeKey makes large gatherings safe and would allow a return to some normalcy, then the Government needs to state that and remain firm in its implementation.

“How can the minister claim that outdoor gatherings with 275 people are safe on the same week that indoor gatherings are reduced to 50?”

David Burt, the Premier, capped gatherings at 50 after the island reported a spike in Covid-19 cases involving more dangerous variant strains of the virus. Organisers of larger gatherings must seek an exemption which usually requires that SafeKey is used.

The SafeKey programme requires attendees to prove they are immunised or have had a negative Covid-19 test within three days before the event.

Mr Smith responded that 275 ought to be set as the new limit for large gatherings if the number was considered safe.

He pointed out that the island was “taxing people thousands at the border in the name of public health” and said there should be consistency.

But Dr Peets told the Gazette last week that a “one size fits all” policy was not appropriate for Covid-19, and each case would have to be assessed on its own.

The cricket exemptions, which were granted for a set list of venues, are technically in force until the end of August.

The exemptions had not been gazetted as of last night, according to the Government website.

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Published July 05, 2021 at 7:58 am (Updated July 04, 2021 at 10:44 pm)

Cricket SafeKey relaxation comes under fire from OBA

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