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Video: Govt Press Conference On Covid-19

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[Updated] The Government is holding a press conference this evening [June 11] to update the public on Covid-19.

Update 7.15pm: Minister Zane DeSilva’s full statement follows below:

Good afternoon,

There are many in our community and around the world eagerly awaiting confirmation of when the L.F. Wade International Airport will once again have regularly scheduled commercial flights. I can now confirm that the decision has been made to resume commercial flights on 1 July 2020.

To that end, the Ministry of Tourism and Transport and industry stakeholders continue working to finalise all the protocols and requirements that will be put in place to secure Bermuda and her people from the spread of COVID-19. Because of the fluid and dynamic nature of this pandemic, and the need to protect all in our community, we have produced a working document, which will be fine-tuned in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

What I can share this evening is an outline of the process visitors will go through when travelling to and from Bermuda. This outline will allow travellers to plan, and the tourism industry to prepare, even while the details are solidified over the next few days.

Our plan features five stages of visitors travelling to Bermuda.

  • Stage 1 is “Pre-Departure”
  • Stage 2 is “In Flight”
  • Stage 3 is “Upon Arrival”
  • Stage 4 is “On-Island Experience” and
  • The final stage is the “Return Home.”

I will give a brief overview of what we are working on, and what visitors and Bermuda may expect.

Phase 1 Pre-Departure

Prior to departing for Bermuda, travellers will be responsible for several things, including:

  • obtaining a certified PCR COVID-19 test that is negative and taken within 72 hours of departure;
  • ensuring they have appropriate health insurance;
  • wearing face masks when travelling to the departure airport, and,
  • wearing face masks and practicing physical distancing at the departure airport.

There will also be certain forms that must be completed including the Traveller Screening Form that those on the repatriation flights will be familiar with, as well as an arrival card – containing information shared between Immigration and the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Work is underway to merge these forms, making it more convenient for travellers.

Also, we want the assistance of airlines servicing Bermuda to help prevent persons with COVID-19 coming to Bermuda. This will be done by having airlines conduct verbal health questioning at check-in, as well as conducting a visual check of arrival documentation and forms. Some airlines already carry out contactless temperature checks, and that is something we would want all airlines to do.

Phase 2 in Flight

During the flight, all airline passengers must wear a face mask while on-board the plane.
Airlines will also disinfect the aircraft and seats will be assigned bearing in mind the need for physical distancing. Efforts should also be made to limit contact between passengers and crew.

Phase 3 Upon Arrival

Upon arrival in Bermuda, travellers must continue to wear their face mask and practice physical distancing.

Customs and Immigration officials will be wearing the necessary levels of personal protective equipment or PPE and shielding.

Also, as soon as possible following arrival in Bermuda, every passenger must undergo COVID-19 testing either at the airport or at their accommodations. Depending on the volume of tests, the results are expected to be received within 24 hours, but in most cases the turnaround time will be less than eight hours.

At the airport, there will be safety protocols in place. These include the Department of Health conducting contactless temperature checks, hand sanitization stations located through the facility, all staff wearing face masks, and the sanitization of luggage.

Phase 4 On-Island Experience

Once visitors have exited the airport and are securing their ground transport, face masks must still be worn. In addition, the standard requirement for physical distancing, face masks and hygiene apply to drivers and passengers alike. Ideally, contactless payment methods are preferred.

At the visitor’s place of lodging, it is advised that contact be limited at check-in. Guests should be given access to their rooms as soon as possible where they will be quarantined for a matter of hours until the COVID-19 test results are delivered.

Throughout a guest’s stay, their temperature must be taken twice per day and the results recorded.

All local accommodations must ensure the necessary staff is available and that the necessary safety measures are in place in the facility as advised by the Ministry of Health.

These include having:

  • medical personnel on call;
  • enhanced cleaning protocols and hand sanitizing stations;
  • staff trained by the Department of Health on COVID-19 best practices;
  • face masks provided for guests and staff, and;
  • amenities that comply with physical distancing guidelines.

While this plan greatly mitigates the risk of someone arriving in Bermuda with COVID-19, we are finalizing a detailed plan for persons who may test positive during their visit. Bermuda’s public health professionals have a well-earned reputation for managing COVID-19 cases successfully and there is every reason to believe that tradition can continue in Phase 4.

As far as the ability to partake of island experiences, we are working to finalise a policy that allows travellers who test negative 72hrs in advance and who also test negative on arrival in Bermuda to be able to have freedom of movement, adhering to the Health guidelines available at the time.

At the conclusion of a guest’s visit and, as per the standard practice for public transportation, the requirements for on-board physical distancing, hygiene, and mask-wearing will apply to taxi drivers and passengers. Again, contactless payment methods are preferred.

Once at the airport, the same requirements when arriving in Bermuda apply to departure. Pre-boarding health screening in the form of a temperature check will be conducted if the destination jurisdiction requires it.

Please bear in mind that, as we work to finalize the protocols and requirements for travel to Bermuda, rest assured, we will always place the safety of our island and its people above all else.

Thank you.

Update 7.28pm: Minister Wayne Caines’ full statement follows below:

As we approach another holiday weekend, the Bermuda Police Service and the Royal Bermuda Regiment will maintain a regular presence around Bermuda – including on our roads and waters, and at our beaches and parks. Over the three-day weekend the Regiment’s presence will increase, with a focus on popular public spaces in the east, west and central parishes. The Police and Regiment will also have a heightened presence on Bermuda’s roads, covering various checkpoints during the 11.00 pm – 5.00 am curfew hours.

I should note that we are noticing a trend of low arrests rate, with only two [2] this week for night time curfew breaches.

This is indicative of the excellent community engagement and support of the Government’s COVID management plan.

Now that we are in Phase Three, I just wish to reiterate some key guidelines for the community:

  • Phase Three sees the resumption of religious and faith services at institutions of worship.
  • Our churches are open, but as with everything that we do now, the capacity of any service must ensure that appropriate physical distancing is observed.
  • Places of worship usually see a higher percentage of our seniors in attendance, however, these are individuals who are considered most at risk.
  • And their safety and protection is paramount.
  • We encourage outside religious services as these are considered the safest option.
  • And at present communion, baptisms, church luncheons and Agape Feasts are not yet approved by the Ministry of Health until Phase Four.
  • For more information, the public can visit the full guidance on the Government website under coronavirus.

We recognise that the days are getting considerably warmer and residents are spending more time engaging in recreational water activities. So here’s some key reminders regarding boats and maritime activities while in Phase Three.

  • Boating activity is now allowed until 10.00 pm, which is one hour before the curfew ends.
  • Therefore, all boats must be off the water by 10.00 pm.
  • The Coast Guard will be enforcing the 10.00 pm water curfew.
  • Additionally, tour boat capacities have been increased raised from 10 to 20 people, but physical distancing guidelines must be followed for all boating activity.
  • Gatherings at Public Beaches and Parks are permitted during Phase Three. However, the public beaches and parks will close at 8:00pm.

Regarding restaurants:

  • As you are aware, indoor dining has resumed. The Ministry of Health’s guidelines must be adhered to.
  • Patrons at these establishments are encouraged to comply with the restaurants in providing your name and contact information for tracing purposes.
  • With the curfew being raised to 11.00 pm, restaurants will close at 10.00 pm.
  • The public is also advised to be mindful of drinking and driving which the BPS will enforce against.

Laundromats: 

  • You will be pleased to know that the 1 person limit has now been lifted. You are able to go to the Laundromat any day of the week while still observing physical distancing and the use of a mask or face covering.

Finally turning to some additional information from the Bermuda Police Service:

Last Sunday, the Black Lives Matter march, which was supported by the Bermuda Police Service saw more than 7,000, people in attendance.

This is considered to be the highest assembly of people seen in living memory. The BPS took a community based approach working with organisers to facilitate a lawful, peaceful gathering.

As a result of this engagement, there were no incidents of disorder and no arrests made.

The march chose to pass the BPS Hamilton station which was facilitated. A peaceful and respectful response was given by protestors. The BPS have now begun a response to the BLM agenda.

This will include greater transparency in what the Service does, including increased training in relation to diversity and customer service. Additionally the Independent Advisory Group will assist and support the BPS with any action in going forward. The Commissioner has also engaged with CURB to extend the restorative practice training in the BPS as well as provide input to Officers and staff on Bermuda’s history and issues such as unconscious bias.

As the public is aware, a serving BPS officer was suspended for the publication of a racist post on social media. The Commissioner will utilize the fast track process within the Police Conduct Regulations to expedite this matter and is fully aware of community sensitivities about this matter.

We recognise that there are more planned marches, and the Ministry of National Security supports and believes in our citizens’ democratic right to peacefully gather. I must stress that individuals who wish to demonstrate and this includes any type of public procession – must get the appropriate approval from the Deputy Governor. Additionally, the event must be sanctioned by the Ministry of National Security.

Lastly, we know that there remains considerable interest into the disappearance of Chavelle Dillon Burgess. The BPS investigation actively continues and Specialist advice has been provided to the BPS in relation to its search strategy.

Thank you.

Update 7.37pm: Minister Kim Wilson’s full statement follows below:

Good Afternoon,

Today there were 71 test results received by the Ministry of Health; and none were positive for COVID-19, making this the 11th day without any new cases.

Thank you to all who have contributed to this excellent position.

Bermuda continues to have 141 total confirmed positive cases. Their status is as follows:

  • there are 5 active cases, of which
  • 4 persons are under active public health monitoring, and
  • only 1 person is hospitalized;
  • none are in critical care.
  • A total of 127 have now recovered, and
  • the total deceased remains 9.

The average age of all of our confirmed positive cases is 61 and the age range of all of our positive cases is from 18 to 101 years.

The average age of all deceased cases is 74 and the age range is 57 to 91 years.

Overall, 57% of all cases are Black, 41% are white and 2% are other or unknown.

The source of all local cases is as follows:

  • 41 are Imported
  • 84 are Local transmission, with known contact
  • 11 are Local transmission with an unknown contact, and
  • 5 are under investigation

Today I’m excited to announce a progressive, new initiative with regards to COVID-19 testing in Bermuda. The Ministry of Health has teamed up with the MarketPlace to offer convenient pop-up testing right outside a MarketPlace store near you for the month of June.

The test is safe, quick and convenient. We understand not everyone is able to drive to our SouthSide testing location and we want to ensure that anybody who wants to know their COVID status is able to do so. The grocery stores offer a convenient location for staff, shoppers and for the general public.

It’s important for the public to know that they will not be impacted by the testing stations and are not at risk in any way. Testing will take place in secure areas of the parking lots, not inside the stores.

You can book online via the government website coronavirus.gov.bm or call the COVID-19 hotline 444-2498 between 9am and 9pm and one of our helpful telephone operators will be happy to make a reservation for you… Or, just show up! Drop-ins are welcome! A full schedule of testing days and times has been posted to the Government website.

I want to thank the MarketPlace for supporting the Government’s efforts in helping us reach our goal of increasing test frequency.

Other convenient pop-up locations around the island will be announced shortly.

For more information about pop-up testing, you can call 444-2498.

Also, a further reminder, if you participated in the Black Lives Matter march at the weekend and were in close contact with someone not wearing mask, you are strongly encouraged to get tested.

Close contact means within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more. Remember, COVID-19 has an incubation period of several days and you may pass on the virus before you experience any symptoms. Also, many persons with the virus are asymptomatic throughout the entirety of the infection.

You should get tested on Friday 12th June – day five after the march – or subsequently, as this will maximize the likelihood of the virus being detected if you are carrying it without symptoms.

Likewise, all persons who, by the nature of their work, spend a lot of time in close contact with others should get tested. This includes workers such as hairdressers, barbers, retail workers and so on. For personal services workers, imagine the assurance you can give your clients if you can show them a certificate showing you were tested and are clear. And this works both ways… imagine the peace of mind you will get if you know your client can show you a negative test results.

The pop-ups around the Island and around the city of Hamilton will make this very easy and convenient for people to get tested.

And, finally, as we head into the weekend, I would like to remind the public that COVID-19 doesn’t take a break on Saturday and Sunday. We must practice mask wearing and physical distancing even during our weekends in order to stay safe.

We have seen the trend for the last two weekends, in reports to Health IQ, of a reduction in safe physical distancing by our population.

We all need to remember that the move towards fewer cases and re-opening Bermuda will only happen if we continue to do what we need to do – wear our masks properly, keep our distance and wash our hands.

Also, no raft-ups this weekend, please. And just because your boats may be physical distancing… please make sure that swimmers maintain distance too.

There have been too many cases of several boaters getting together, anchoring independently of one another but then swimming to a friend’s boat or to the shore to congregate. This defeats the purpose of the ‘no raft up’ rule. Please try and avoid co-mingling with other households as much as possible. You can enjoy the water and the company of friends 6 feet apart.

Also, we are encouraging people to log onto HealthIQ.bm to tell us how you’re feeling and what you’re seeing in the community in terms of protective measures being taken. Your information will be confidential and will help us greatly as we transition through the phases.

Thank You, Bermuda, and stay safe.

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