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Abusers of physical distancing given warning

  • Extremely frustrated: Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

David Burt has chastised members of the public who broke distancing regulations over the weekend when shelter-in-place was relaxed.

The Premier added last night: “To say that I am disappointed is an understatement.”

He said the “vast majority” of people had complied, but he was “appalled” to see pictures of people whom he knew lived with seniors gathering without wearing face masks.

Many of those who tested positive for the virus were asymptomatic with “no symptoms whatsoever”, Mr Burt warned.

“We don’t know who may be infected, and the evidence shows there may be a large number of persons infected who do not know they have the virus.”

Mr Burt vowed that “enforcement will be stepped up”, with fines of up to $10,000 possible as well as a term of imprisonment.

The Premier conceded it was “a possibility” that irresponsible behaviour might have been reduced, had the dropping of shelter-in-place not occurred on a weekend.

“Hindsight is 20/20,” he said, noting that potential “tweaks” could be made to regulations.

But he emphasised: “It’s important to remember that Covid-19 is not a joke. It has forced many families to say goodbye to loved ones before their time.”

Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley said yesterday that social media had helped to expose disregard for safety regulations.

He added it was “extremely frustrating” that some people had ignored social-distancing rules and the requirement to wear masks after phase one of the return to normality kicked in.

He said there was “something positive” in people capturing images of law breakers and condemning reckless behaviour.

Mr Corbishley added it was “a form of community policing”,

He warned people could end up in court, fined and landed with a criminal conviction under the Emergency Powers Act.

He added: “If they were to travel to other countries, that might actually prevent them — so it’s a significant risk.”

Mr Corbishley said traffic police were “out and about” and that reintroduction of roadside breath test checkpoints was under discussion.

Mr Corbishley added that the police did not want to be “killjoys” and that the chance to move about with more freedom was “really important to people”.

However, he said: “We have to behave collectively in ways based around the spreading and transmission of Covid-19.”

He added rule breakers were a minority, but that “this virus operates with a minority” and that shelter-in-place rules could be imposed again if needed.

Mr Corbishley said: “This is often the problem — in other circumstances, this behaviour would be normal.”

He advised the public to take personal responsibility and “use common sense”.

Mr Corbishley said last Sunday that police had been alerted over the weekend to “guys acting like it’s a national holiday, partying and ignoring all health guidance”.

The public were allowed to use beaches, parks and the Railway Trail from Saturday morning and restaurants were permitted to restart takeout and delivery services.

However, social-distancing policies to prevent the spread of Covid-19 remain in force and it was emphasised that any departure from home should be for necessary business, exercise, to help a vulnerable person, buy groceries or medicine or for healthcare reasons.

Ben Smith, the Shadow Minister of National Security, said he was “dumbfounded” by some of the pictures and videos he had seen.

He added selfish behaviour not only risked lives but threatened livelihoods.

Mr Smith said: “If the rules are not followed, Government will have no option but to put shelter-in-place rules back into force to protect us from more infections and possibly deaths.

He predicted: “A return to shelter-in-place will probably also spell the end for some businesses, whose workforce will be left to rely on Government aid.”

Mr Smith said a minority of people had placed “Bermuda and Bermudians in danger”.

He added: “How they do not understand that beggars belief.”