The Government will be holding a press conference this evening [May 6] to update the public on Covid-19.
Update 7.40pm: Minister Kim Wilson’s full statement follows below:
Thank You, Premier. Good afternoon everyone.
I begin my remarks today by offering my sincere condolences to all of the families who have sadly lost loved ones recently in circumstances related to the coronavirus.
While our surge in positive coronavirus cases has slowed down, it is not all good news; we have had a particularly rough April, many people were seriously ill and several died. The families of the sick and the deceased and their loved ones remain in our thoughts and prayers.
The Ministry of Health received 1204 test results since the last update, and three  were positive for coronavirus. This gives a test positivity rate of 0.2%.
Two of the new cases are classified as local transmission with known contact as they are associated with known cases.
The additional new case is classified as under investigation. This case is a resident with no currently identified link to other known cases or history of travel in the past 14 days.
Additionally, since the last update, there were 46 recoveries and no deaths.
There are currently 340 active cases, of which;
- 326 are under public health monitoring and;
- 14 are in the hospital, with two  in critical care.
Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 2432 total confirmed cases of COVID-19; out of those, 2062 persons have recovered, and sadly, 30 Covid related deaths.
The source of all cases is as follows:
- 294 are Imported
- 1777 are classified as local transmission of which:
- 1465 are Local transmission with known contact/source and
- 312 are Local transmission with an unknown contact/source
- 361 are Under Investigation
As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change.
The seven-day average of our real-time reproduction number is 0.52.
Bermuda’s current WHO country status remains “Community Transmission”.
As you can see from this update, the targets set by the Premier some three weeks ago have been largely met:
- the 14 day average of unlinked cases is 4, and the target set was less than 7,
- the 14 day average of the positivity rate is 1.0%, and the target was less than 1%, and,
- the 7 day average of our real-time reproduction number is 0.52, and the target was less than 1.
As announced in last week’s press conference, with the indicators moving in the right direction, we will move to Phase 2 on our Roadmap to Re-opening on Sunday, 9 May.
At that time, new regulations will take effect.
- A curfew will be in place every day from 10 pm to 5 am
- Large gatherings will be allowed, with a maximum of 10 persons gathered or hosted. The Minister of National Security will have the ability to issue exemptions to the maximum gathering size in exceptional circumstances.
- We are removing the requirement to work remotely. However, remote working is strongly encouraged.
- Schools will open on Monday as previously announced and the Minister of Education is here to provide further information.
- Daycare facilities can re-open, and I note interventions are already in place to address issues identified during recent outbreaks.
- Retail will be allowed to re-open at 20% capacity.
- Grocery stores will also be allowed to open at 20% capacity, and we will eliminate the current alphabetical system.
- Restaurants can resume outdoor dining with table service only, in addition to their takeout and delivery services. There will be a maximum of 6 persons per table, with tables spaced 6ft apart and no milling about and/or dancing.
- Bars and Sports or Members Clubs are allowed to open outdoor areas only and, like restaurants, there will be table service only, with a maximum of 6 persons per table and tables spaced 6ft apart.
- No indoor dining is allowed at restaurants, bars or clubs.
- Nightclubs will remain closed.
- Weddings, funerals and religious services restrictions are as follows: indoor services are allowed with a capacity of 20% up to a maximum of 25 persons; outdoor services are allowed with a maximum of 25 persons. Congregations and choirs must wear masks, and maintain 6ft distance.
There will be no wakes or receptions which do not comply with the maximum gathering size restriction, which is 10.
- Gyms will be allowed to re-open with equipment spaced 10ft apart. Staff, personal trainers and patrons must wear a mask and maintain 6ft physical distance. No indoor activities are allowed that require masks to be removed. No high intensity, aerobic, close proximity activities, such as spin classes, are allowed indoors in limited ventilation settings. Outdoor classes must maintain 6ft physical distance between participants.
- Recreational boating will be allowed between 5 am and 8 pm, however, raft-ups are not allowed.
- Commercial boats, also known as ‘Island Boats’, will be allowed to operate with limited capacity in accordance with Marine & Ports’ licensing.
- Personal Services such as barbershops, beauty salons, spas, massage therapists will be allowed to re-open. However, they are prohibited from providing services that require face masks to be removed.
- Event facilities, i.e. movie theatres, library, galleries, etc., can re-open with a capacity of 20% up to a maximum of 25 persons.
As outlined, Phase 2 is a gentle re-opening which will see the end of restrictions on household mixing as well as the re-opening of schools, leisure facilities, churches, gyms, outdoor bars and dining. Limited personal care services will be permitted, and our curfew has changed.
All of the changes to restrictions and current guidance will be posted on the Government website coronavirus.gov.bm.
As I said earlier, the good news is that our number of Covid-19 cases is on the decline and our indicators are moving in the right direction. However, our country status is still ‘community transmission’ – and that frames our re-opening strategy. It is still important to get tested, and it is essential to get vaccinated.
And we still should avoid mixing households. Avoid being too close to other people for more than a short amount of time, as much as you can. The risk of infection increases the closer you are to another person with the virus and with the amount of time you spend in close contact.
If we do not adhere to public health requirements, we will be right back where we were a few weeks ago – with increased cases of Covid-19, increased hospitalisations and increased deaths.
This transition to Phase 2 is not quite our return to “life as normal”. We will get there eventually if we all do our part.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to continue to wear a mask in all indoor settings. Your mask must safely cover your nose and mouth.
Wear your mask every time you visit the grocery store or any retail store, while taking public transportation or taxis, and for workers at all workplace premises…unless, of course, you are working from home.
Delivery personnel MUST wear a mask when going about their business, in accordance with current regulations.
There are exceptions to this guidance. You can remove your mask while engaging in strenuous exercise outdoors, such as running and jogging, but you must put it back on once you have completed your exercise if you plan to be around others outside of your home.
Masks and face coverings primarily protect others, not the wearer, against the spread of infection. They cover the nose and mouth, which are the primary confirmed sources of transmission of the coronavirus.
Remember, I wear a mask to protect you; you wear a mask to protect me.
I also want to remind everyone to keep in their bubbles, or more specifically, your immediate household. Though we have lifted the prohibition of mixing, we still must remember that we are in community transmission and mixing of households should be kept to a minimum i.e., small, intimate bubbles. Whether at home or at work. Your bubble is not always as small as you think it is. You cannot be sure who those people in your bubble have been around.
Moving around from household to household between relatives, for various reasons, getting exposed to the virus in one house and passing it on to others in another house is how we get community spread. Keep your bubble small.
You must remember, day to day, some people have many interactions, and behind each interaction is a separate household of people.
Even if you are working outdoors, you must maintain physical distancing to protect yourself and other people.
Indoor workplace settings should be rearranged if that is what is needed to practice proper physical distancing.
If you suspect that you have been exposed to the virus, the worst thing you can do is move somewhere else and spread the virus. The best thing to do if you think you have been exposed is to stay put and isolate yourself from others.
As I have said before, now is not the time to be irresponsible, gather in groups outside of your immediate household, or have parties. We must all continue to do our part to stop any community spread.
I will now provide an update on our vaccine programme…
We have completed the sixteenth full week of vaccinations. From January 11 to May 1, 2021, Bermuda has administered a total of 58,193 vaccinations – a figure that rises to 60,207 [which is 52% vaccinated] if you include vaccinations administered from Sunday to Wednesday of this week as well! – all of which is excellent news.
Of the 58,193 vaccinations administered for the period we are reporting on, which ends May 1;
- 52% are women, and,
- 48% are men.
Significant progress has been made in vaccinating our population and, especially, our most vulnerable.
74% of all residents over the age of 65 years have had at least one vaccination with 64% being fully immunised.
To date, 51% of the population has been vaccinated [with 1 dose], and 39% of the population has been immunised [with 2 doses].
The Bermuda College vaccination centre will continue to be open for walk-ins from 9 am to 1 pm daily. For those with appointments, the vaccination hotline is doing phone follow up calls to confirm those appointments as well as sending emails.
For those persons who have registered and are waiting for their first appointment, you will receive the information by email. In both cases, please read your confirmation emails carefully to ensure that you get the correct information regarding the time and location of your vaccine appointment.
Additionally, to increase the avenues available to members of the public who wish to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated, the “Close to Home” Vaccination Initiative will continue in the following locations, from 10 am until 2 pm:
- Saturday, 8 May at the National Sports Centre in Devonshire.
- Tuesday, 11 May at the Shelly Bay Marketplace
- Thursday, 13 May at the TN Tatem Middle School
These sites are for people who have not yet registered for the Covid-19 vaccine, do not have access to the internet, and prefer to register in person or have additional questions about the Covid-19 vaccine.
Our current supplies of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines expire at the end of June. For Pfizer, which requires a three week period between doses, we anticipate the last first dose will be administered on June 8. For AstraZeneca, the period between doses can be as great as 12 weeks, so we will continue to administer that vaccine until June 30, and administer the second dose when we receive our next COVAX delivery. I can assure you, we have the capacity to vaccinate anyone who wants to get vaccinated and plenty of supply to reach community protection.
Before I end, the Emotional Wellbeing Hotline is 543-1111 for support from 5 pm-9 pm, Monday to Saturday. Talk to people about how you are feeling and what your concerns are. We know this has been a very difficult 13 months. We care about your well-being and strongly encourage anyone feeling anxiety, stress or if you are simply emotionally drained, to call the Emotional Wellbeing Hotline. Again, the number is 543-1111.
`Each of us has a role to play in stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Follow Public Health guidelines, wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, maintain physical distance. And download the WeHealth Bermuda app. Do the research, talk with your doctor and make an informed decision about getting the Covid-19 vaccine.
Please, everyone, remember that we have an individual and collective responsibility. We have to be extremely careful going forward – Do your part to end the community spread of the coronavirus. Remember to avoid the three Cs – closed spaces, crowded spaces and close-contact settings.
Stay Safe, Bermuda, and Thank You.
Update 8.10pm: Minister Renee Ming’s full statement follows below:
Good Evening Bermuda,
As we begin to move into Phase 2 with the relaxing of some of the regulations, I will provide a general overview on the following:
1] Curfew Exemptions;
2] Large Group Exemptions;
3] Enforcement by the Bermuda Police Service; and
4] Quarantine Guidelines for non-immunised persons.
Even though some restrictions are being rolled back, these continue to be concerning times for our community.
And as we work to manage the Covid-19 virus it’s important that we remain vigilant.
Here are some important points to note during this next phase.
The Royal Bermuda Regiment will also be on hand if needed’ to enforce the rules on the water.
With the curfew now being from 10.00 pm until 5.00 am, it’s important to remind the public of the process for applying for an exemption.
Applications to be away from your residence can be found at the following link on the Government website: forms.gov.bm/Covid19/curfew.
You do not need to apply for an exemption for the following:
- If you are driving someone who is permitted to be out for example.
- Going to and from the airport.
- Going to work as an essential worker or to a residential care home. If you are a licensed fisherman; a registered commercial farmer; or staff of these businesses.
- If you must respond to emergency calls to buildings if an alarm system has activated or emergency work has to be performed.
Large Group Exemptions
Large Group exemptions can be submitted via gov.bm. A form will be available for people to fill-in online.
Enforcement by the Bermuda Police Service
The Bermuda Police Service will continue to enforce the Covid-19 regulations. This includes visits to various businesses and restaurants to ensure that patrons and establishments are engaging in the appropriate health and safety guidelines.
The Royal Bermuda Regiment will also be on hand if needed to enforce the rules on the water.
Specifically as it relates to boats and pleasure crafts on the water during this next phase, the public should be aware of the following:
A water curfew is in place. Boaters must be off the water by 8.00 pm, and raft ups are not allowed.
We’re encouraging anyone who sees any breaches of the regulations to please call 2-11.
Quarantine Guidelines for Non-immunised Persons
Lastly, here are some general guidelines regarding the mandatory supervised quarantine for non-immunised travelers arriving in Bermuda by air on/after June 6, 2021.
By ‘mandatory supervised’ quarantine, it is meant those hotel/guest house properties that have been designated as such by the Government.
All non-immunised persons travelling to Bermuda are subject to mandatory supervised quarantine and will be required to bear all costs for the hotel/guest house they choose from amongst of participating properties.
The Disaster Risk Reduction Mitigation [DRRM] Team will oversee the mandatory 14-day quarantine for all incoming non-immunised travelers.
You can only book your hotel up to 14 days in advance of your arrival.
You must ensure that you have a confirmed [pre-paid] booking at a government-authorized hotel before boarding a flight coming to Bermuda.
If rooms aren’t available for your preferred dates, you must change your flight for a date when a government-authorized hotel is available or, you should book at another hotel.
You could face a fine if you don’t provide evidence of pre-paid accommodation at a government-authorized hotel prior to arriving in Bermuda.
Non-immunised travellers coming to Bermuda should follow these steps:
1. Have your traveler details ready.
2. Choose and book your hotel.
3. Get a confirmation to show at the time of arrival in Bermuda. Non-immunized foreign nationals who arrive in Bermuda without a confirmed [pre-paid] booking at a government-authorized hotel will not be landed and will be immediately returned to their place of origin.
You may choose one of the following hotels for your 15-day mandatory quarantine:
There are three approved quarantine locations:
a] Coco Reef Resort – $200 for single and $230 for double occupancy. Available rooms – 32+ rooms; each unit is equipped with WiFi, A/C, refrigerator, room safe
b] Grotto Bay Beach Resort & Spa [$291.88 pp/ +$12.50 for additional person/ 3x per week maid service]. Each unit equipped with WiFi, A/C, refrigerator, room safe. Maximum of 4 persons per room. Meal plan available for $64.35 pp daily. No pets.
c] Hamilton Princess & Beach Club – $289.30 for a Deluxe Garden view room; $356.30 for a Deluxe Harbor view room.
Last year, the Government spent over $1.5 million on quarantine expenses. This was due in part to the fact that the hotels were closed. This year, the government is simply not in a position to subsidize the cost of quarantine accommodations.
We do appreciate that these are significant costs, however the prices are comparable to other jurisdictions.
We will however continue to look for options that may be more affordable.
Here are some additional quarantine guidelines for non-immunised travelers.
The following persons are exempt from mandatory supervised quarantine and are allowed to quarantine at home:
1. Minors – Defined as 17 years or younger and parents travelling with a child aged 4 or less;
2. Seniors – Defined as 65 years or older;
3. Medical – Defined as either a] having a medical certificate; or b] certified essential medical travel; or c] certified essential medical companion;
4. Bona-fide residents who left Bermuda before May 6 and are unable to meet requirements through no fault of their own – Will need to define proof of residence and proof of inability to get vaccine;
5. Essential travel to escort a Minor to or from an educational institution. Applies to both parents OR guardians – no more than 2. – Defined as showing proof of travelling with minor and proof of school enrolment.
All exemptions are to be handled by the Ministry of Health Quarantine Authority – as they approve exemptions under the Quarantine Act.
In closing, I’d just like to say to the people of Bermuda – for the most part, we have managed this pandemic extremely well, thanks in large part to the health guidance and recommendations put in place.
So I want to thank all of Bermuda for their compliance and their cooperation. And as we go into Phase 2, above all, please stay safe and please continue to make responsible decisions to protect you and your families.
Update: Premier David Burt’s full statement follows below:
Good Evening Bermuda.
Thank you for joining us tonight as we outline our country’s next steps for Moving Beyond the Pandemic.
First let me begin by extending my condolences to the families of Mr. Marvin Lambe, and Mr. Eugene Thomas who sadly lost their lives after separate serious road traffic accidents on Tuesday. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, and friends, as well as all other persons involved in the accidents as they recover from their injuries. I ask everyone to please drive with care and caution on our roads at all times.
I also extend my sincere condolences to the loved ones of the six people we have lost since our last coronavirus press conference. We have again been harshly reminded of the severity and fatal nature of the coronavirus, and that we must continue to work to protect and to save lives.
Tonight I am joined by the Minister of Health, the Hon. Kim Wilson and the Minister of National Security, the Hon. Renee Ming.
The Minister of Health will provide the country with an update on the latest coronavirus test results, vaccination statistics and the contours of the country’s move to Phase 2, in addition to any other matters she may raise from her ministry.
The Minister of National Security will outline the details of the supervised quarantine for non-immunized travellers that comes into effect on June 6, including addressing some of the questions from the public.
For the questions portion of today’s press conference we will also be joined by the Minister of Education, the Hon. Diallo Rabain who can answer any questions regarding public schools, as well as the Chief Medical Office Dr. Ayo Oyinloye and Bermuda Hospital Board’s Chief of Staff Dr. Wesley Miller, who can answer any medical questions from the media or those that are related to the hospital.
First we will hear from the Minister of Health.
Thank you Minister.
I thank you, your team at the Ministry, and all teams involved in our efforts to contain this outbreak, for your continued hard work and diligence in guiding us through this difficult period. From the teams in the ministry, to the vaccination centres, the testing teams at Perot, Bulls Head, Penno’s Wharf and Star of India, to the Lab teams, our doctors, our nurses and our hospital staff – THANK YOU.
I also thank you, the Bermudian public for your compliance and for your sacrifice. We know that living under restrictions is not easy. It is not easy to stay away from friends and loved ones, especially during a time when we are all going through so much. However, your cooperation has allowed us to be able to look to the future once again.
I am thrilled that we can now safely re-open most businesses and that students can return to school. As a parent who has spent the last few weeks working from home with my children, I know that it has not been easy for many parents to balance work and homeschooling. I am sure that students will also be looking forward to being back in school with their friends again.
Teachers have also had to adapt and adjust to how they teach and interact with their students. I recognise that this has not been easy and I thank them for their dedication and the invaluable work that they do each and every day. We especially celebrate them this week during Teacher Appreciation Week, and I hope that all of Bermuda will join me in showing appreciation to any teachers that you know.
Also, the Bermuda Post Office will reopen to the public on Monday, May 10. I extend a sincere thank you to the men and women who work at the Bermuda Post Office for their commitment and service to the people and the businesses in Bermuda.
Before the Minister of National Security outlines the details for supervised quarantine I would like to remind the public of our goal. Our goal as a country is to move beyond the pandemic. To do that we must continue to make the difficult decisions to protect Bermuda from the dangerous variants that now exist in other countries.
That protection begins at our borders. By effectively protecting ourselves from new variants entering our community and continuing to lower and hopefully eliminate local transmission, we can keep our schools and businesses open.
These measures are not intended to punish anyone, but they are there to protect our country, and make sure to protect our sense of normal.
We have listened to the concerns of the community, and we understand that there are many who through no fault of their own, will not be able to meet the requirements to be exempt from supervised quarantine. The proposals that the Minister of National Security will now outline on behalf of the Government and Cabinet are balanced and reasonable and will ensure the protection of public health.
We will now hear from the Minister of National Security regarding supervised quarantine and also other matters related to enforcement inside of her Ministry.
Thank you Minister of National Security and thank you to your team at the Ministry of National Security who have worked extremely hard over the last year on the frontlines of our response to the coronavirus. The work on behalf of the Government in putting this plan together is appreciated.
I would also like to also thank Coco Reef, Grotto Bay, and Hamilton Princess for opening their doors to this proposal, and would certainly encourage other local hotels to join as well.
The policy that the Minister has outlined is one that the Government strongly believes is reasonable, fair and takes into account those persons such as minors, the medically vulnerable, and others who are not able to meet the requirements for supervised quarantine such as students who are overseas, or parents who must travel with their minors for medical treatments or persons who are traveling for medical treatment or those accompanying persons for essential medical treatment. It deals with the issues of students who are unable to access vaccines overseas and for those who may have left the island before these measures were announced.
This is not a policy that any Premier or any Government wants to implement, and I and the Government of Bermuda and this Cabinet are no different. Those who suggest that mandatory supervised quarantine is the first choice could not be more wrong.
I do not like this policy one bit. I did not enjoy having a state of emergency; I don’t like curfews; I dislike having to tell people that you cannot church, that you cannot go to school or telling entrepreneurs that they can’t open their business in which they have invested their savings in – and I do not like the restrictions placed on the ordinary freedoms we enjoy as a modern society. But, what I may like and what may be convenient for us individually must take a back seat to what is in best interests of keeping Bermuda and Bermudians safe.
Too many people have died as a result of this outbreak. People have gone hungry as a result of this outbreak. People have suffered isolation and loneliness as a result of this outbreak. There is a moral imperative to do what we must to keep that kind of pain and upset from continuing. My duty is to make sure that even my personal likes and dislikes do not supersede what is necessary to protect the people of Bermuda from enduring such hardships again.
We know that many in the community have asked why home quarantine is not an option for everyone. The answer is that it will be an option that has appropriately been outlined by the Minister of National Security. The reason why it is not is that home quarantine still presents risk. While persons quarantining may not leave their homes, this does not reduce the risk of those persons having visitors under the assumption it is safe to do so.
That person may be asymptomatic or have had negative arrival, day 4 and day 8 tests, and make their own determination that they are safe to be around and decide to invite friends over. After being in close proximity with friends on day 10, they go for their day 14 test and discover they are positive, and carrying a new dangerous variant.
Their friends who visited will have gone home to their families, and gone to work or into a school unknowingly spreading that variant and potentially causing an outbreak. The person who let them into their home unlawfully, would not reveal this to contact tracers – and we may find ourselves back at square one. This is a scenario we must avoid in order to keep our country from going backwards. Supervised quarantine helps us minimise the risk of that spread, especially that of new variants.
We know that the overwhelming majority of persons in Bermuda will adhere to the public health guidelines and regulations. Many will ask why the majority must now suffer for the irresponsible actions of a few. We have seen how those irresponsible actions of few have significant and detrimental consequences for the entire country.
It should be remembered that every outbreak starts somewhere. I can say with a high degree of certainty that this outbreak was caused by a traveler who should have restricted their movements but ignored that and went to a party and later tested positive. That single, reckless act has filled the hospital and the ICU; it has closed schools and further wounded an economy that was already trying to recover from previous challenges.
What we are seeing in India is what governments around the world have worked hard throughout the pandemic to avoid. Record cases and deaths from a mutated variant, and a healthcare system that is completely overwhelmed with essential medical supplies such as oxygen in short supply relative to the amount of people who need it. This is why the Government of Bermuda is doing all that it can to protect Bermuda and our healthcare system from such a crisis.
When it comes to the question of immunised persons not being required to quarantine despite being able to contract the coronavirus…..
Our policies are led by the data and the scientific evidence. This evidence shows that those who are immunised are far less likely to spread their infection to others even if they do contract the coronavirus, and that is why those persons will not be required to quarantine for 14 days. However, they will still be required to test 4 times during their first 14 days in Bermuda.
Many have asked when will supervised quarantine no longer be required? Ultimately, this will end when the pandemic ends, and we no longer need to be concerned about new variants of the coronavirus which is the primary reason for this policy.
Over time we may be able to make adjustments taking into account our local situation as well as the status of other countries that persons are traveling from. Locally, if we reach community protection and have over 70% of our population immunised then we may consider reducing the duration period for the quarantine.
The Government will consider ranking countries based on their transmission status and prevalence of variants of concern, with travelers from or coming back from lower risk countries may be able to have home quarantine as an option. However, at this moment it is important for all of us to remember that the United States, United Kingdom and Canada all have community transmission and all have dangerous variants that are circulating within their respective countries and therefore the rules apply to the flights from all of those countries.
In a recent article, the P1 variant from Brazil has caused Trinidad & Tobago to enter a lockdown and put their hospital system at risk of running out of hospital beds within seven days. That P1 variant is now the fastest spreading variant in the United States.
We are protecting ourselves at our borders to allow for our schools to reopen safely, for our businesses to open, and for Bermudians to get back to their way of life. If we do not adjust our approach to the changing circumstances of the pandemic there is no way that we as a country will be able to move past it for good.
Other countries around the world are adapting with much stricter restrictions. We are now seeing 21-day supervised quarantines being implemented in countries and territories such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam as they battle new variants. The pandemic is not over, and countries across the globe continue to adjust as we will do so with the threat of new variants.
We have made the calculated and data led decisions to keep our borders open with strong protections in place, and now stronger protections will come into effect on June 6 as we have outlined.
I would like to remind everyone of the current policy regarding travel that came into effect as of May 5, which was yesterday. This policy was announced in the National Address to come into effect on May 2, but it did not come into place until yesterday. I note that many are forwarding the Quarantine Order which was issued, and that is good as I want all residents to be familiar with the law. However, it is important to note that these were not unknown and they were announced during the National Address. I will remind members of the public what those changes are.
First, as a reminder, all non-immunised travellers entering Bermuda will be required to quarantine for 4 days at home or on their tourism property pending the receipt of their day 4 negative test.
All fully immunised travellers with a valid negative pre-test must quarantine until they receive their arrival test. Immunised travellers without a pre-test must quarantine at home until receiving a negative day 4 test. All arriving travellers will continue to be tested on day 4, day 8 and day 14 following their arrival test.
While it is great news that many businesses can open again next week, we know that others will still be affected by the regulations and required to remain closed or operating at limited capacity.
The Government will continue to support businesses that cannot open, and individuals who find their circumstances impacted due to these closures and restrictions.
Through the Unemployment Benefit, the Ministry of Finance has paid out approximately $4.1 million since the beginning of Covid-19 restrictions which went into place on the 8 December 2020.
The Ministry is aware of some delays in payments, many of which were due to forms being filled out incorrectly, and they are working to resolve any outstanding issues as quickly as possible. Individuals who cannot work can still apply for the unemployment benefit at uba.gov.bm.
This week, the Ministry of Finance authorized unemployment benefit payments to approximately 1,500 people for a total of $1,000,000. As I have said, we have paid 4,100 persons for a total cost of approximately $4.1 million since these restrictions came into place on 8 December.
We expect further payments to continue on a bi-weekly schedule, which means another payment will be made this upcoming week.
As mentioned earlier, we continue to make progress to resolve problem applications, and last week 332 applicants were paid for the first time.
Since the 13 April, 3,500 new applications for benefits were received and of those 3,000 or 88%, have passed initial processing and we expect to finish processing the other 500 over the next few days.
Of the 600 that are still being progressed through the workflow toward payment, 242 are in process for payment and 270 or require additional supporting documents from either the applicant or their employer. Assuming the applicants provide the required supporting documents in a timely fashion, we expect to bring the outstanding application closures in a short order.
On a positive note, 517 persons who were previously receiving unemployment benefits have stated that they have already returned to work.
There are three other set of beneficiaries are also receiving benefits during this period due to the various changes to restrictions that were put in place in advance of the Stay at Home Order. Currently, an additional 1,300 persons have received benefits for a total of $2.2 million. $500,000 have been paid out for persons who are required to be in quarantine and cannot work remotely. $1,600,000 have been paid to those persons who are employees of restaurants and or bars that were restricted or closed and other mandatory business closures that were put into place for $130,000.
I remind businesses affected by mandatory closures to go to bedc.bm to apply for the Covid-19 Emergency Grant for small and medium-sized businesses. The Emergency Grants helps to cover immediate costs associated with recurring expenses including rent, utilities, social insurance, and health insurance premiums for employees.
Bermuda, thanks to our collective work and sacrifice we have met our targets and can now move safely to Phase 2. We must still proceed with caution and care, adhering to the public health regulations, but I am thankful that there can be some form of safe gatherings for Mother’s Day this Sunday.
While I know everyone will be eager to get together, the Government, as the Minister of Health has said, will ask persons to limit household mixing and gatherings. If you are to meet with persons from other households please observe the maximum gathering size and try to do so outdoors to allow for low risk activities.
It is important to remember that though our numbers are falling we still have in access of 300 active cases, there still are persons in the hospital and in ICU, we still have cases which are being detected in the community which are not linked to other cases and therefore the risk of the coronavirus re-establishing itself is there. That is why we are taking a slow and measured approach.
If we move out of community transmission to clusters of cases, there may be some additional changes and adjustments that need to be made, but right now we need to make sure that we are careful, not moving too fast, so that as we move forward we can move past this pandemic for good.
Before I close, I would like to acknowledge a young Bermudian who sent some positive words and support my way this week. Nine-year old Asa Mello sent me a letter and a wonderful drawing of a Bermuda flag. In the letter she said that they watch me on TV, they pray for me, that they want to be a Marine Biologist one day, and she hopes ‘Bermuda stays strong’.
Firstly Asa, if you are watching, I believe you will become whatever it is you want to be in life, and I’m sure you will make a great Marine Biologist. Especially in one of the best places in the world to be a Marine Biologist. Thank you for your prayers and your kind words which have brought a smile to my face.
And to Bermuda, in the words of young Asa Mello I hope we can stay strong together and continue to be united as we work to move Bermuda beyond this pandemic.