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Premier accused of dodging debate on quarantine rules

Eager for debate: Cole Simons, the leader of the One Bermuda Alliance (File photograph)

David Burt, the Premier, has been accused of dodging Parliamentary debate on controversial Covid-19 quarantine regulations for a second time.

Government tabled the order making hotel quarantines mandatory for non-immunised arrivals at the end of last Friday’s sitting of the House of Assembly.

The order, which was set down by Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, just before the motion to adjourn, will be debated at the next parliamentary sitting on July 16. The order came into effect on June 20.

Yesterday, Cole Simons, the leader of the One Bermuda Alliance, accused Government of being duplicitous over the issue.

Mr Simons also suggested that Mr Burt had deliberately shelved debate on the order until after a legal challenge to the laws has been held. That hearing is due to take place on Wednesday.

But Mr Burt denied he was dodging debate and called on the OBA to bring a parliamentary motion to debate the quarantine order if it was serious.

Mr Simons said: “The PLP Government needs to stop playing political games with the quarantine rules.

“By waiting until moments before the motion to adjourn during the last Parliamentary session to table new rules is nothing short of duplicitous. This means the debate on the new rules will be delayed yet again, and not until after the legal challenge in the courts on Wednesday.

“This was the PLP’s second parliamentary delay pertaining to their paid quarantine restrictions. At the previous sitting, the Government failed to table their rules in Parliament, even though the rules then came into effect that same weekend.

“Before that, the PLP had twice pushed back the start date for the paid quarantine restrictions.

“The rules have been extremely controversial, and a number of residents are fed up with Premier David Burt – the crowd of several hundred protesters booing him last week spoke volumes.

“This is the second time the Premier has ducked a Parliamentary debate over his new mandatory quarantine rules.

“Two weeks ago, several of his own MPs broke rank to criticise his heavy-handed travel and quarantine policies. Very few PLP MPs actually spoke in support.

“Now it appears that the Premier is doing whatever he can to push the debate until after the Supreme Court hears the case on the constitutionality of the rules.

“It’s as if the Premier knows he’s wrong, but is waiting for someone else to come along and solve the problems he has created.

“Premier Burt should drop the paid mandatory quarantine and allow Bermudians to isolate in their own homes. Why can’t the Government invest in a monitoring app or bracelet, which has been introduced in Barbados and the Cayman Islands?

“It is shocking to see that despite the delays in implementing the new regulations, the PLP continues to struggle to get it right. There have been so many inconsistencies and errors which have led to the frustration of the travelling public and they must come to an end.

“A viable solution must be found which balances public wellness with the economy and this is not it.”

Last night, Mr Burt hit back, accusing the OBA of taking “the easy way out”.

In a statement issued by a Government spokeswoman, Mr Burt said: “This is perhaps the most debated policy in many years, and to suggest that after three months of public discussion on this issue the Government would shy away from any debate led by the Opposition is nonsense.

“There is a reason the OBA is on the opposition benches. This is a time for leadership, not taking the political temperature and irresponsibly saying only what you are against but never saying what you are for to keep this country safe. That’s just the easy way out and proves again why the OBA wasn’t trusted to lead this country through the pandemic.

“Once the Opposition have managed to draft their motion to debate the quarantine order, we will be more than ready to debate it and take the opportunity to demonstrate how critical this policy is to ensuring normal life and continued economic growth for Bermuda.”

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Published July 06, 2021 at 7:59 am (Updated July 06, 2021 at 7:59 am)

Premier accused of dodging debate on quarantine rules

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