Premier David Burt advised that Zane DeSilva and Wayne Caines “accepted his invitation to resign from the Cabinet.”
Premier Burt said: “The events of this weekend seen widely on social media did not represent this Government’s months of struggle and hard work to keep Bermuda safe. Every citizen has been forced to make significant changes in how we live, work and socialize; ministers are no different. It is this that I communicated to Ministers DeSilva and Caines.
“As these men depart the Cabinet I am frustrated and immensely disappointed that this incident has deprived the community of two extremely hard working and dedicated ministers.
“Both men worked tirelessly during the months of the pandemic response to keep Bermudians safe and to support our economic recovery. Their energy and zeal demonstrated a genuine care and concern for the people of Bermuda. I will remain forever grateful for their contributions.
“In the coming days I will set out the assignment of responsibilities following this unexpected change. Make no mistake, our commitment is unchanged and each day continues to be devoted to doing the best that we can to create opportunities for Bermudians.”
Update | Background Information
Zane DeSilva served as the Minister of Tourism and Transport, while Wayne Caines served as the Minister of National Security.
Their resignation follows after videos of an event circulated on social media showing a number of people, who were not wearing masks, dancing to music at Blu restaurant. A number of people commented on the videos, noting that Wayne Caines and Zane DeSilva appeared to be among those seen in at least one video.
Following the video circulation, a Government spokesperson said, “M.E.F. Enterprises Limited was granted a large group exemption for the Meals on Wheels charity fundraising dinner, under the Public Health [COVID-19 Emergency Powers] Regulations 2020, by the Minister of National Security.
“The exemption was granted under regulation 5 , permitting a group of more than fifty persons to assemble on Friday, July 3rd 2020 from 6:00pm to 11:00pm at the Blu Bar and Grill Restaurant and as required, a notice was placed in the Official Gazette prior to the event.
“The notice required persons to wear masks and to adhere to guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health. From the videos shared, it can be seen that those rules were not being adhered to at all times during the event.
“The Government will conduct an inquiry and if it is confirmed that rules were violated without reasonable excuse, sanctions will be issued under Section 7 of the Public Health [COVID-19 Emergency Powers] Regulations 2020, which permit the Minister of Health to close an establishment that does not comply with health directions.”
A Meals on Wheels spokesperson told Bernews, “Meals on Wheels is fortunate to receive many donations from the community and we are grateful for them. Often the fundraising activity goes on without our knowledge and without our being involved. That was the case here.”
A Blu restaurant spokesperson told Bernews, “On Friday, July 3rd a fundraising dinner was hosted at Blu restaurant. Guests arrived wearing masks, sanitized their hands and were temperature checked by security at the entrance.
“The sit-down dinner proceeded without any incident during the 2 hour period, however at the end of the evening a surprise saxophonist played as some guests were leaving and, in the excitement, social distancing was not maintained.
“We realize that with summer now upon us that it is getting hotter and masks are being removed when they are not supposed to, however we understand that this is still not acceptable behaviour at this time.
“We fully intend to adhere to all protocols as laid out by the Government and will be closing Blu for 2 days to conduct rigorous training for all staff. We will ensure all protocols are fully understood when a situation arises where social distancing is not being followed and how this should be handled.
“Bermuda has worked very hard to maintain its current COVID-19 status and we intend to do our part to ensure it stays this way. We apologize to the public and our valued guests as we work to navigate the changes and developments that each evolving phase brings.”
OBA Leader Craig Cannonier had said, “The Premier cannot stay silent on this issue. If this happened to OBA MPs, I am sure he would be leading the calls for resignations. Is he going to demand the resignations of these Ministers for this flagrant abuse?
“If he does not, how can we take these Ministers seriously knowing that when it suits them, they will defy their own Government’s protocols. They have lost the people’s respect.”