August 2022: Covid-19 restrictions gradually relaxed
Covid-19 regulations began to relax in August as the pandemic’s spread began to slow down in Bermuda.
Unvaccinated travellers, who were originally denied entry to the island, were finally allowed to visit starting August 22.
The four-day quarantine and requirements for a Day 10 test were also abolished for all travellers.
The shift was the first set of major changes to Covid-19 regulations since April when mask requirements had been dropped.
However, the Travel Authorisation form was still ongoing – leading to many demanding the “[needless form]” be dropped.
Michael Dunkley, the Shadow Minister of Health, reignited the One Bermuda Alliance’s call for the TA form to be scrapped, saying “travel to the island has been hindered by the restrictions and the Travel Authorisation form”.
He added: “Other jurisdictions have taken action to open up and reduce restrictions prior to Bermuda making the decision to do so.
“Tourism is booming in many of the Caribbean islands.
"The TA is a deterrent for many travelling to the island. The Government needs to admit that fact and listen to the people who wish the form to end as soon as possible.”
Despite starting the month of with four Covid-related deaths, cases began to slowly taper to 121 cases by August 25 – 75 down from the 196 cases recorded at the start of the month.
Residents in the central Pembroke area were once again up in arms as pollution from the Belco power station covered their homes.
The row, which led to Belco claiming that the soot came from the use of heavy diesel oil, spiralled into threats of legal action and a resignation.
Residents around the Serpentine Road plant reported soot falls, debris and unpleasant odours that devalued the property and raised health concerns and overall stress levels.
All fingers pointed to the North Power Station, which had been accused of causing the problem since coming online in April 2020.
Belco told the public that emissions came from the use of heavy fuel oil and that the plant was initially intended to burn natural gas.
But the Regulatory Authority said that senior representatives at Belco had “made concerted efforts to misinform the public” and that a representative had been “selective” about what information was shared.
It said in a public statement: “The representative openly stated that their plant was supposed to burn natural gas, not what it is burning today.
“They further assert that this is the genesis of the problems they are facing with respect to the plant and soot emissions.”
Wayne Caines, the president of Belco, hit back against the claim, saying that they “never had any intention to mislead the public and do not believe we did”.
The war or words escalated on August 18 when the RA announced it would consider all legal and regulatory actions against the energy company over claims that they had not “made any attempts to correct the public record”.
Belco a week later sent a statement to the RA, explaining that the power station would have dual-fuel engines intended to burn a combination of light and heavy fuel oils.
The row introduced a new wave of transparency demands from Belco.
The Clean Air Coalition demanded “complete transparency” from the utility firm to work with the Regulatory Authority and the Government to solve the ongoing problems surrounding pollution.
The community group added: “They have to come up with solutions both in the short term and the long term for the good of the people of Bermuda.
“There are a lot of different types of pollutions coming from Belco and it is impacting all of Bermuda.”