Covid-19 restrictions on visitors to continue to protect hospital, Premier says
The Premier defended continued restrictions on unvaccinated visitors last night as the country prepared for the 2022 tourism season.
David Burt said the precautions were necessary to protect the hospital and that the rules would be in force for the foreseeable future.
He explained: “The truth is the purpose of our restrictions are to protect the hospital and that is the reason why the Cabinet made that decision.
“We will go ahead and review it at some time in the future, but right now this is what we have laid out and it is similar to many other jurisdictions that are competing against Bermuda.”
But he highlighted that the Government had removed SafeKey requirements to eat and drink indoors at bars and restaurants and increased permitted group sizes from 20 people to 100.
Mr Burt said: “The view was that these would come into place on April 1 at the same time as the ending of the substantive public health emergency.
“However, with our tourism partners, our hotel partners and others there was a request to see if that could be advanced.
“The Minister of Transport has a number of cruises he anticipates trying to come in the month of March and we wanted to go ahead and get that moved up.”
Mr Burt added that travel authorisations for visitors would stay until at least the end of the next financial year.
He said the scheme was an important revenue source for the Government to help fund the island’s Covid-19 response.
Mr Burt added that it was intended that the digital nomad temporary residence programme would continue indefinitely.
He said that more information on the Government’s economic recovery plan might be delivered in the House of Assembly as early as February 18.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said the time had come for Bermuda to learn to live with Covid-19, and everyone must take responsibility for themselves.
Ms Wilson said she understood the concerns of parents about masks in schools but insisted precautions were still needed to ensure public safety.
She added that the Government had been contacted by parents upset about masks being required in schools but other parents had insisted they wanted masks to remain to ensure their families were protected.
She said there were 62 outbreaks of Covid-19 in schools last year and more children had tested positive for the coronavirus in two months of the Omicron wave than in four months of the Delta wave.
Ms Wilson added: “Children are very social beings – they are probably better socialised than most of us – so they are spreading all around.
“The reality is the measures that the Government are putting in place are designed to protect the entire community, not just one segment of the community.”
She added that the Government would continue to review its Covid-19 policies based on the best information available.
Ernest Peets, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, said the Government was reviewing plans for the return of the Bermuda Day Parade.
Dr Peets also highlighted that the Sail GP yacht races and the Bermuda Triangle Cup football event were both on the sporting calendar this year.
He added that sports fans were pleased to see events return without SafeKey requirements.