Churches and gyms to open in Phase 3

  • Moving to normal: David Burt, the Premier, listens to a question during yesterday’s Covid-19 update. Mr Burt announced that Bermuda would ease restrictions to Phase 3 levels, by opening churches and communal swimming pools and that restaurants will be allowed to offer indoor dining when the new rules start at 6am on Thursday (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Graphic from the Bermuda Government
  • Graphic by Christina White
  • Graphic by Christina White

A shorter curfew and the opening of churches, gyms, cinemas and museums will be included in the third phase of a four-stage relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions, it was announced yesterday.

Working from home will no longer be mandatory and restaurants will be allowed to offer indoor dining when the new rules start at 6am on Thursday.

Public transport will also be fully operational, but with health precautions still in place.

David Burt, the Premier, said that it was revealed earlier that “Phase 3, Moving to Normal”, would include the reopening of government offices and the reintroduction of childcare services in line with Ministry of Health guidance.

He added: “Additional items which have been added to Phase 3 are that restaurants will be able to open for indoor dining with physical-distancing being maintained and in place, with limits, and also cinemas and museums will be able to reopen with 20 per cent capacity with physical-distancing in place.

Mr Burt said these were relaxations planned for Phase 4 and that the limit for gatherings would be upped from ten to 20 people.

He added: “Additionally, pools which were previously closed will be subject to the maximum limit of gathering for 20 persons and will also be allowed to be open.”

Mr Burt said that curfew hours would change to run from 11pm to 5am, instead of the 10pm to 6am.

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, has already announced that public schools would not reopen this academic year, but private schools could open if they wanted.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, revealed that 122 Covid-19 test results had come back between Sunday and yesterday and all were clear — which meant no positive results for seven days.

Ms Wilson said that the number of positive cases remained at 141, with 12 active cases.

She added that eight people were under public health monitoring and four were in hospital, none of them in critical care.

Nine people who had the disease have died, and 120 have recovered.

The health minister added that the seven-day average of Bermuda’s real-time reproduction number was 0.63.

She said an incorrect figure of 0.39, released last Saturday, had been due to “human error”.

Ms Wilson said she was “truly impressed” that almost everyone who attended the Black Lives Bermuda march at the weekend had worn a face mask.

She added: “We hope this responsible action by the public will prevent this mass event from being a ‘superspreader’ incident.

“We will keep a close eye on the reopening indicators to see how things evolve for the coming two weeks of the virus’s incubation period.”

She told the public: “Until then, please register on and update your status frequently. This is more necessary than ever, following yesterday’s one-off mass event.”

Ms Wilson asked people to take up the chance of free Covid-19 tests available at Southside in St David’s, “especially if they were in close contact with one of the very few people who were not wearing a mask”.

She said that guidance on how to reduce the risk of spreading the virus at summer day camps and afterschool programmes was available on the government website.

Ms Wilson added: “If you’re a parent, this guidance will tell you what the Government is recommending camp organisers consider to help limit the risks of Covid-19 transmission.”

Information for camp directors included safe ways for children to be dropped off and collected, staff to child ratios incorporating social-distancing and activities that would reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.

Advice was also posted to help babysitters and nannies in private family homes.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the public works minister, who is leading the Cabinet committee working to reopen the island, said that government-run summer camps will open on June 24. He added private summer camps will be allowed to operate if they follow public health guidelines.

Colonel Burch said: “Additional government offices will reopen with heads of department and line managers responsible for ensuring appropriate physical-distancing for staff in office or continued remote working.

“Mandated working from home will no longer be required; however, it is strongly encouraged to work from home if possible.”

He added that church buildings would be allowed to open if public health protocols were adopted, but that services would be restricted 20 per cent of the approved occupancy.

Colonel Burch said that gyms will also have to follow public health guidance and indoor restaurant dining would not include bar services.

He added that more recommendations for the reintroduction of activities were expected to be introduced later in a “Phase 3B”.

Colonel Burch said flights from Britain would not be “top of the list, in my book, of being welcomed back to Bermuda” when air travel resumes as most of Bermuda’s cases had come from there.

Mr Burt added that the Minister of Health had the power to take action “within a few hours” if necessary if Covid-19 flared up again in a gateway city after commercial airlines resumed flights.

He said that the Government’s Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory was able to test passengers who returned on a charter flight from Canada and provide results inside five hours last week.

Mr Burt added: “This was a great accomplishment for the lab and shows how we are able to quickly begin to put practices into place to test arriving passengers quickly and easily.

“As a government and a country we are moving forward, we are following the rules, we are doing our part. We now have a reduction in the number of cases, our real-time reproduction number is less than 1, we’ve gone seven days without a new case and this is certainly something to be celebrated.”

He warned: “But we must remain vigilant. We have to continue to do what we have been doing all this time.”

To view the statements from the Premier and Minister of Health, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”