News

Laid-off workers get compensation extension

  • Jason Hayward, the Minister of Labour (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Renee Ming, the Minister of National Security  (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • David Burt, the Premier (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Special emergency payments to out-of-work residents are expected to be extended for an extra two weeks, it was revealed last night.

Jason Hayward, the labour minister, said almost 4,000 clients would get their last payment on July 31. But he added: “The Government plans to extend it for an additional two weeks.”

Mr Hayward said people who were still without work after the benefits ended would be able to seek further help from the Department of Financial Assistance. A supplementary unemployment benefit will also be provided to those who failed to qualify for financial assistance.

Bermudians or spouses of Bermudians who were receiving unemployment benefits will be eligible for the supplementary aid.

Mr Hayward said the details of the supplementary plan would be given later. But he added there would be means testing of applications for financial assistance and that applications will open on Monday.

Mr Hayward promised the ministry would “ensure we have the team in place” to equip the financial assistance department to handle new applicants.

He added that the Department of Workforce Development was working on a two-phase plan to get Bermudians back on the job.

It will first target industries where there may be “a reduction in work-permit renewals”. There have been 156 work-permit renewals turned down in recent times.

Phase two will see a “talent pipeline”, boosted with scholarships and other assistance to help Bermudians who worked in other sectors. Mr Hayward said the ministry’s one-year residential certificate for visitors to work remotely on the island would start on August 1.

Remote workers can bring their families as “sponsored dependants”, if they can prove their income is sufficient to support them.

The move will also come with an increase in the maximum stay by visitors from 90 days to 180 days.

Mr Hayward was speaking after David Burt, the Premier, said the island had averaged 450 tests a day for the coronavirus over the past week.

Mr Burt said the Government would increase the number of tests as the island’s borders continued to reopen.

He added that commercial airlift to Bermuda would more than double in August, from 5,000 this month to 12,000 next month.

But he added tourism numbers would be about 10 per cent of what the island saw last year.

Mr Burt said there would be a media campaign overseas to attract remote workers, which would promote the island’s safety for “digital nomads”.

The two were joined at last night’s Covid-19 briefing by Kim Wilson, the health minister, and Renée Ming, the national security minister.

Ms Wilson revealed plans for test numbers to reach 1,000 a day in August, with the Bermuda Hospitals Board now able to carry out its own tests.

She said there were no cases of the coronavirus out of 362 test results that came back yesterday.

Five active cases of the illness are under public health monitoring, with none in hospital.

No cases are under investigation at present.

Ms Ming thanked supporters as she addressed her first press conference since her appointment as minister.

She said that for the Cup Match holiday, the pandemic had “caused us to reassess how we conduct our gatherings” — although the holiday remained.

Ms Ming said people were expected to head to beaches and parks, as well as go out on the water.

She added the ministry has received “a number” of applications for gatherings of more than 50 people, which were under review.

Ms Ming said police had prepared a “robust” public safety plan for the long holiday with the Royal Bermuda Regiment and the coastguard.

Patrols will be in place at Horseshoe Bay and Clearwater Beach, with drones used to monitor public spaces.

Roadside sobriety checkpoints will be carried out across the island and liquor-licensed establishments will close at midnight.

Mr Burt added that postage to Britain would restart tonight and mail from Canada would start in August.

But he warned that post from the United States would take longer.

Mr Burt revealed that the time for applications to be processed by the Department of Planning had been cut in half.

In May and June, 53 planning applications were received, with 81 approved — with a total estimated construction value of $46 million.

To view the statements from the Premier, Minister of Health, Minister of Labour and Minister of National Security, click on the PDF links undfer “Related Media”

The next updates on Covid-19 will be given on Tuesday