Premier: Relaxing Covid-19 border controls would be ‘suicide’
Reducing Covid-19 restrictions at Bermuda’s borders would be “suicide”, the Premier has asserted.
David Burt also revealed that Gencom, the company behind the redevelopment of the Fairmont Southampton, had still not raised funding for the project, nine months after the hotel closed.
Speaking during an interview with The Daily Hour yesterday morning, Mr Burt defended his government’s controversial quarantine policies, saying while “adjustments” could be made in the future, nothing would change until a ruling on the current Covid-19 hotel quarantine legal challenge was issued.
Mr Burt said: “We are not going to reduce restrictions at the border because that will be suicide. Other countries have had to slide back and we are not doing that.”
He said government has had to withstand pressure from different segments of society over the requirement for unvaccinated persons to quarantine in a government-approved hotel at their own expense, but added: “There are people who will gladly travel to a place where they know they will be safe.”
Jamel Hardtman, the show’s host, asked the Premier how he planned to win back the support of backbenchers and members of the electorate who opposed his policies, Mr burt appeared to concede he was facing opposition within the ranks of his own party including within the Cabinet.
He said: “I am not sure it is a question of rebuilding support. I think that it is a question of recognising that this job is difficult. Difficult decisions will always have to be made … I have to make sure that I sleep well at night by making the right decisions – it will be easy to make politically expedient decisions but those are not the right decisions.
“I am blessed to have a Cabinet and backbench that will be honest. That is fine. That is a sign of a healthy democracy.”
The Premier was taken to task over the economy and asked when there would be “heads in beds” at the Fairmont Southampton.
The Premier revealed it is hoped that construction would start “at the latter half of this year” but indicated the hotel owner had still not raised funding for the redevelopment nine months after the hotel’s closure last October.
He said: “We are working with [hotel owner] Gencom to secure the funding for the redevelopment of the hotel and that process must continue. It is a challenging one to raise money in this environment.
“We have seen the challenges that happen when you don’t have fully funded projects such as Morgan’s Point.
“They anticipate that they would like to get their construction started at the latter half of this year and the government is continuing to work with them to get the finances in place.”
He said it was important to address cost of living at a local level and reiterated capital projects that were under way and in the pipeline including the water and waste water management master plan, roads infrastructure, the refurbishment of the Tynes Bay waste-to energy facility, solar energy implementation, and the largest project of all, the redevelopment of the Fairmont Southampton.
Mr Burt emphasised the importance of developing industries that would make Bermuda more sustainable such as domestic food production. He said work was being done to reduce the cost of health care to further reduce the cost of living for Bermudians.
He said economic growth was the most important factor in our “overtaxed society” and said announcements would be made after the House of Assembly returns in November about business proposals related to Bermuda digital banking.
He said a Bermuda digital bank “can make sure that we are supplying the banking services and providing competition in the banking market but also providing the banking services that will not hinder companies from setting up in the future”.