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Potential trouble brewing over World Cup fixture slated for Covid-stricken Suriname

Bermuda will play their home World Cup qualifying match against Cayman Islands at the IMG Academy Complex in Bradenton, Florida, the Bermuda Football Association has confirmed.

The decision was taken in keeping with existing public health guidelines and the uncertainties that persist with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Concacaf Zone group B match, which will be played at the same venue as Bermuda’s 5-0 victory over Aruba last month, is scheduled for June 8 at a time to be determined.

However, the venue for the away fixture against Suriname four days earlier has yet to be officially confirmed and may be a source of discontent for the Bermuda Government in days to come.

Suriname is significantly worse off than Bermuda, whose Cayman rescheduling is consistent with the Aruba switch on March 30 to minimise “travel fatigue and possible exposure to the Covid-19 virus, as well as any health restrictions that may have been imposed on the Bermuda national team and opponents”.

Suriname played their first home fixture at the Frank Essed Stadion, against Cayman Islands on March 24, but the Dutch-Caribbean nation has since felt the full effects of the global pandemic and is in a state of related restrictions and lockdowns at present.

Despite the continued uncertainty surrounding the effects of the pandemic in Suriname — which is reporting more than 10,500 active Covid-19 cases and has suffered 207 deaths related to the virus — the BFA has confirmed Kyle Lightbourne’s side are still preparing to be making the trip to the nation located on the northeastern coast of South America.

“The Suriname match is scheduled to be played in Suriname,” David Sabir, the BFA general secretary, said yesterday. “As of this date, there are no indications that the Suriname football federation is looking to play the match anywhere else.”

However, Suriname is experiencing 66 new infections each day on average, including a seven-day average of 79 cases per 100,000 people — a figure that not so long ago made Bermuda “the worst in the world“.

Further, the vaccine uptake there is in its infancy, with only 3.4 per cent of the 591,000 population fully immunised.

Authorities in Suriname have issued orders to continue implementing nightly and weekend curfews through at least May 10 to curb the spread of Covid-19. The country has only just come out of a full lockdown, but, like Bermuda, a curfew is in place that allows only essential workers, including medical workers and emergency services personnel, to be exempted.

Outside of curfew times, gatherings of groups larger than five people in public are prohibited. A limit of ten people remains in place for funeral and religious services. All group and contact sport remain prohibited. The use of public transport by land or sea is only permitted with observance of distance measures as per the public transport protocol. All persons over 12 years of age are required to wear face masks when outside their homes.

The country’s airport reopened on Sunday, but international commercial passenger flights remain mostly suspended, with only cargo flights and specially authorised repatriation flights being allowed. There are two flights per week from the US and the Caribbean, and one flight per week from the Netherlands. The movements of arriving travellers are highly restricted; transport from the airport to accommodations is controlled, and all incoming travellers must complete a mandatory seven-day quarantine.

Albeit there is still a month before the fixture and things may change in Suriname, where the Level 4 travel warning from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is the same as Bermuda’s, but the Bermuda Football Association has already taken its decision for a match that is due to kick off four days later.

• The BFA will provide details of coverage of the matches on its website and social-media channels

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Published May 05, 2021 at 10:20 am (Updated May 06, 2021 at 8:16 am)

Potential trouble brewing over World Cup fixture slated for Covid-stricken Suriname

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