Minister of National Security Renee Ming and Assistant Police Commissioner Martin Weekes held a press conference this afternoon [Dec 4] to reiterate some of the Covid-19 guidelines.
Minister of National Security Renee Ming’s Comments
Minister of National Security Renee Ming said, “I’m joined by Assistant Police Commissioner Martin Weekes, and we wanted to have this briefing today because as we’ve seen in recent weeks and days, there’s been an increase in the numbers of COVID cases here in Bermuda.
“As you can appreciate this is a concerning time for our community, particularly when we see the alarming trend overseas with an explosion in the rise of coronavirus cases.
“And with the holidays fast approaching we know that there will be the desire for many residents to want to gather for the festive season. But we must remain vigilant.
“And while this would typically be a time when we’d connect with loved ones and friends in close proximately, we must be mindful that these aren’t normal times that we’re currently in. Far from it.
“The truth is that we continue to be in the throes of a pandemic. And the increases in COVID cases here in Bermuda should be a reality check for all of us. So, today Assistant Commissioner Weeks and I wanted to take few moments to touch on some of the guidelines for large group gatherings and the approval process for such events.
“Additionally, the Assistant Police Commissioner will highlight some of the steps that the Bermuda Police Service have taken and continue to take to enforce the COVID-19 regulations. This includes visits to various businesses, bars and restaurants to ensure that patrons and establishments are engaging in the appropriate health and safety guidelines.
“As it relates to the approval process for groups and gatherings, the public should be aware that the exemption application process has been amended, and the following will be in place:
- Due to health and safety concerns, a decision has been made to reduce the group gathering size from 75 persons, back to 50 persons.
- Application for an exemption must be made at least 10 working days in advance of the date of event.
- Beginning next week applicants can complete the Exemption Application Form and review the guidance at gov.bm.
- Applications will be reviewed, checked for compliance with the COVID 19 guidelines / protocols.
- Applications are submitted to the Minister of National Security for a final decision.
“As an added reminder, earlier this week, my colleague, the Minister of Health Bermuda outlined some critical amended regulations as it relates to mask wearing. And I think it is important to remind the public of these new guidelines. It’s now an offence to not wear a mask in accordance with the guidelines.
“A person who fails to wear a mask when one is required commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to—
- a fine of $500, in respect of a first offence;
- a fine of $1,000, for a second or subsequent offence.
“We are encouraging anyone who sees any of these breaches of non-compliance of mask wearing to contact 2-11. Lastly, as I close, it bears repeating – COVID-19 remains with us, and I’m urging residents to exercise a degree of personal responsibility. As a reminder, we all must continue to do what we can to mitigate and limit the spread of the virus and comply with the policies in place. In spite of the uptick in cases, Bermuda has generally managed this pandemic extremely well, thanks in large part to the health guidance and recommendations put in place.
“With the colder months now upon us, we’re asking people to please continue to follow the health guidelines to protect you and your families – especially during this holiday season. This includes wearing a mask, hand sanitizing and maintaining the appropriate physical distancing. And finally, if you are in attendance at any establishment or location around the island and see any violations of the COVID-19 regulations by persons or businesses – please do not hesitate to call 211 to report the violations.”
A police spokesperson said, “The Bermuda Police Service [BPS] has been made aware of a voice-note circulating on social media alleging that officers are waiting in grocery store parking lots fining people for getting out their cars without masks. Martin Weekes Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the BPS COVID Response said this is simply not true.
Mr. Weekes said: “The BPS will be enforcing the COVID regulations, including the sections relating to wearing of masks and physical distancing in a proportionate and fair manner as we have throughout the pandemic.
“It is not our aim to criminalise people going about their every-day business, however in the current situation we are clear that action is required in order to gain compliance. Where offences are detected we will be enforcing them. Persons flouting the regulations will be summonsed to court.”
Mr. Weekes added: “We urge the public to cooperate with the BPS but also to do your part to keep us all safe. Should you see someone not following the rules, politely ask them to put their mask on or to practice social distancing, if they’re less than six feet apart from the person nearest to them. If you are not able to do that, please call the Police Non-Emergency number, 211 or, use the online portal at police.bm.
“Remember, we are all in this together, so let’s recommit to working together to once again flatten the curve.”