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Public Health Emergency Will End In November

The Government “will table a final extension to the Public Health Emergency to end on November 30th” and “will not seek an extension of the public health emergency beyond the end of November.”

A Government spokesperson said, “The Minister of Health, Kim Wilson, JP, MP, today announced that on Friday, September 30 in the House of Assembly, the Government will table a final extension to the Public Health Emergency to end on November 30th. The Ministry of Health will not seek an extension of the public health emergency beyond the end of November.

“The most recent extension of the Public Health [Covid-19] Emergency Order was approved by the Legislature in July, and expired on 26 September 2022.”

Minister Wilson said: “The adjusted Parliamentary sessions in September meant there was insufficient time remaining to bring an Emergency Extension Order to the full House for its consideration prior to the most recent Order expiring on 26 September.

“Therefore, in the interim, I have exercised powers pursuant to section 107A of the Public Health Act 1949 to extend the public health emergency for a period of 30 days. More details regarding the roadmap for ending the public health emergency, changes to border testing requirements, and changes to current mask requirements will be shared with the House of Assembly on Friday, September 30.”

“The Public Health [Covid-19] Emergency Orders, which provide the legal framework for our safety measures, have been in place since 30 June 2020 [following the State of Emergency put in place on 1 April 2020]. They are made pursuant to section 107A of the Public Health Act 1949, and declare that a public health emergency exists in Bermuda due to a communicable disease that threatens the island.

Minister Wilson added: “Although we continue to contend with variants of concern, the world is in a different place than it was in 2020. Certainly, Bermuda is. We are fortunate that our community responded well to the Government’s vaccination campaign and the vaccine offered through participating medical practices, health services and pharmacies.

“We have fully vaccinated 75% of our population, and that figure rises to 84% when you consider just the eligible population. We have just received additional Covid vaccines, including Moderna’s bivalent booster. This will provide additional cover for our community as we go into the winter months.

“We have also received additional pharmaceutical supplies, including oral antivirals and monoclonal antibodies specific to Covid-19. These pharmaceutical measures work best in preventing hospitalisation and deaths in medically vulnerable patients. While these drugs are in short supply globally, we are working closely with our partners to secure our future supplies.

“The consensus among most public health experts is that this upcoming autumn and winter season is important. Across the world, there is a relaxation of public health measures to control this virus along with the Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 driving the infections at the moment. This is coupled with the waning protection from vaccines across the world. With the colder months, a new, more infectious or deadlier variant can cause havoc.

“As this period of the public health emergency draws to a close, it is critically important for all of us to be still responsible, consistent and unrelenting in our use of personal protective equipment, such as face masks; in our behaviours, such as practising physical distancing, good hand hygiene and staying at home when sick; and, in our activities by avoiding closed spaces, crowded places and close contact settings, as well as taking a risk-based approach to mass gatherings.

“While the public health emergency may be ending in Bermuda, the global pandemic continues. Be careful and be safe, for yourself and our community.”