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Customs officers will get ‘precautions’

L. F. Wade International Airport (File photograph).

Extra precautions were to be provided for customs officers at the airport after a walkout over Covid-19 concerns, the Minister of National Security said today.Wayne Caines explained last night that an inbound flight was on the tarmac when staff stopped work over “concerns around where the people come in at the customs area”.He said today that there was a “difficult set of circumstances” at the airport after staff learnt — alongside the rest of Bermuda — about the island’s first two confirmed cases of the virus yesterday.Mr Caines added that the concerns of all staff who interact with the public were taken “very seriously”.He said: “The customs officers directly highlighted those concerns to me.“I spoke with the deputy collector of customs, he reached out to a local vendor.“The local vendor is going to fabricate something that comes directly over that will cover the customs officers as they conduct their operations.“That is significant and that is not something that we take lightly.“The person that is fabricating has given us a time frame, we’re asking him to accelerate it.”Mr Caines added: “In the meantime we’re going to give the customs officers other precautions [so] that they can safely operate and execute their duties.”LF Wade International Airport will close for incoming passengers flights tomorrow night, for a two-week period.All returning residents must fill out a self-declaration form — and all travellers arriving on the island will be subject to a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine.Returning residents can complete their forms online at forms.gov.bm/covid19, for a swifter arrivals process.The minister said he believed that some of the staff did not attend work this morning but that their roles were filled by senior members of the customs department, boosted by Department of Immigration employees.He added: “We don’t bear any ill will or malice to the officers that were concerned.”Mr Caines said that no customs officers or airport staff had shown symptoms of Covid-19 since the flights on March 4 and 6 that carried the two people with positive Covid-19 test results.He added: “We’re going to make all the helping services available to the customs staff or anyone that has been customer facing that they can get the necessary medical attention if they so desire.”