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Minister Caines Updates On Uniformed Services

Minister of National Security Wayne Caines provided a general update regarding the Uniformed Services under the Ministry of National Security, which includes the Bermuda Police Service, the Royal Bermuda Regiment, the Bermuda Fire & Rescue Service, the Customs Department, the Department of Immigration and the Department of Corrections.

Speaking during the Covid-19 press briefing last night, Minister Caines said, “Earlier today, you would have heard Police Commissioner Steven Corbishley address the incident of an impaired driver who coughed on Police – the impaired driver said that he had COVID-19.

“The BPS Officers managing the incident exercised professionalism and enacted their protocols. And they should be commended. Regrettably these officers are now quarantined to ensure their safety. Bermuda, this type of behaviour cannot and must not be tolerated. This is considered a serious assault and will be dealt with accordingly in the courts.”

Turning to the activities of the Royal Bermuda Regiment [RBR] Minister Caines said, “The Royal Bermuda Regiment continue their deployment across the island providing support in a variety of capacities. In partnership with the BPS the Community Advisory Points recorded a total of 13,633 stops on Monday, April 13. To provide some added context, the total stops over the last 6 days was 44,600. I should note however that the majority of stops were exempted persons.”

Minister Caines continued, “On April 13th, Community Advisory Points were conducted at 21 locations across the island – and 107 soldiers were directly involved in this operation.

“In conjunction with the BPS marine officers, soldiers of the Bermuda Coast Guard continue to maintain a daily presence on Bermuda waters to both ensure that the COVID-19 Emergency Order is enforced, and to ensure 24-hour search and rescue capability.

“Some of yesterday’s Coast Guard activity included towing a boat with three persons on board in the North Shore area. They were subsequently met by the BPS at a local area dock. Members of the Coast Guard also participated in training exercises with the RFA Argus’ Wildcat and Merlin helicopters. The aircraft were also working in conjunction with the RBR in identifying potential landing sites if required after a major hurricane. To be clear, there was no contact between the crews of the boats and helicopters.

“Additionally, our RBR soldiers accompanied DPT drivers who are operating a special bus service for the Bermuda Hospitals Board’s healthcare workers.”

Minister Caines also provided an update from the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service [BF&RS].

Minister Caines said, “Our Emergency Medical Technicians from the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service continue to provide critical response for all medical related incidents within the community. Since April 1, the BFRS Dispatch Center has processed a total of 172 medical calls. The BFRS Dispatch Center has heightened its questioning at the receipt of 9-11 EMS calls to identify any at-risk population.

“The Dispatch Center has taken guidance from our local health professionals as they field a number of COVID related queries. The leadership at the BFRS continue to do their due diligence of keeping the frontline staff informed and updated on the latest information and recommendations regarding response during this challenging time.”

As it relates to the Customs Department, Minister Caines provided the following update for the public.

The Minister said, “Our Customs Department’s essential operational units continue to function. The Commercial Operations / also known as the Longroom – continue with electronic submissions. We continue to closely asses our seaport operations to ensure that we manage any potential container processing backlog. And our team at our ports of entry continue to assess arriving vessels such as yachts to ensure that they are adhering to Bermuda’s Emergency Order guidelines and protocols in place.

“Overall, the staff continue to provide a service with the resources they have. They are working on a rotational basis and are performing remote tasks from home where and whenever possible. Over at the Department of Immigration, the Chief Immigration Officer and her team continues working to meet the needs of its stakeholders in these challenging times. The Department will exercise flexibility with employers, agencies, visitors, and the general public, in light of the current circumstances.”

Minister Caines advised that the Department of Corrections continue to operate on a reduced regime, reminding that inmate visits have been suspended, and visits to facilities by vendors and other external agencies including government departments have been put on hold unless it is essential.

The Minister added, “Non-operational staff continue to work remotely. Staffing levels have not been impacted and Corrections staff continue to carry out their duties professionally despite the challenges.

“Also I am pleased to highlight a project that is having favourable feedback both within and outside of our facilities. With the assistance of Corrections staff, inmates are working on the “Mask Task” project which involves designing and sewing masks for both the inmates and staff. The intent is to issue the homemade masks in the very near future once they have been completed. In lieu of regular face to face visits, the department will be introducing virtual visit for the inmates at all facilities this week.”

“Minister Caines concluded, “We recognize that our Corrections staff and inmates alike are concerned about the potential implications of COVID-19 in our facilities as well as the impact on the island in general.

“However the department continues to ensure that every effort is taken to mitigate any risks of the disease affecting our staff and/or inmates. Thank you.”