HAMILTON, Bermuda – Premier David Burt has announced that tough restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 will continue for a further two months, and flights originating in Brazil, South Africa and India will be banned.
In a televised address on Sunday night, he said the current clampdown would continue until June 24, but a gradual easing was possible.
“The government’s hope is for the public health emergency to end on that date [June 24], bringing an end to 15 months of a state of emergency in Bermuda. However, for that to happen, we must eliminate local transmission of this virus,” the Premier said.
“If we do not end local transmission, we will not be able to get rid of our masks, or see the end of curfew.”
Burt also outlined three phases Bermuda will go through before the island begins to get back to normal, saying schools, churches and gyms may reopen on May 9, Mother’s Day. Restaurants are currently able to offer curbside service only.
COVID-19 cases have soared in April with more than 1,000 of the 2,335 logged so far recorded in the first three weeks of the month. Eleven of 23 deaths from the disease have occurred this month.
The grim news came as Burt, who recently tested positive for the virus but said members of his family are fine, announced stricter border controls to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Burt said flights that originated in Brazil, India or South Africa would be banned with immediate effect. He added that anyone who had been in these countries within 14 days of arrival in Bermuda would be quarantined for 14 days with an electronic tag.
The news came as he announced that the island had passed the halfway mark for the population having at least one dose of the vaccine – “an excellent milestone”.
“However, we must keep going in order to reach our goal of community protection, which is considered to be achieved when 70 per cent of the population has received both doses of the vaccine,” Premier Burt said.
Burt said non-immunized travelers would have to quarantine from May 2, until a clear day-four test.
The time period for a pre-arrival test for visitors to get travel authorization will go down to three days from five.
An 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. curfew is currently in place.
“If the data allows, it is envisioned phase two (of three) can commence on Sunday, May 9, Mother’s Day. It will see the end of restrictions on household mixing, as well as reopening of schools, leisure facilities, churches, gyms, outdoor dining and limited personal care services,” Burt said.
“Due to our desire to eliminate local transmission, there will be continued restrictions on activities, gathering sizes and a curfew will remain in place during this time.”
Burt said the government would continue to provide financial support to businesses and individuals who are directly affected by the restrictions.
Bermuda, with a population of 64,000, has carried out more than 230,000 COVID-19 tests.