Burt insists election will be safe from Covid-19

  • David Burt, the Premier, at the government media briefing last night (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Jason Hayward, the Minister of Labour (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Renée Ming, the Minister of National Security (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

There was “no question about a safe exercise of democracy” at the General Election, the Premier insisted last night.

David Burt said he had met John Rankin, the Governor, to assure him the Parliamentary Registrar, Tenia Woolridge, would be supplied with “whatever she deems necessary” to protect public health as voters went to the polls on October 1.

Mr Burt promised “the fairest and most inclusive” election in Bermuda’s history.

New technology will allow people with sight problems to vote on their own and it will be easier for travellers to register for advanced polling, which opens on September 14.

Seniors will be eligible for advanced polling, after the Government consulted with the Registrar.

People on parole from prison will also be eligible to vote for the first time.

Mr Burt, who was speaking at the last of the weekly Covid-19 briefings, highlighted tourism revival efforts.

He said airport capacity would double next month and be up to 60 per cent capacity in October.

The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club will open today, which would bring hotel capacity to just over 60 per cent.

Mr Burt added: “We have a long way to go, but recovery of our tourism industry is well under way.”

Bermuda recorded no new cases of coronavirus after 903 tests came back clear yesterday.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, said there were eight active cases, but none were in hospital.

The total number of confirmed cases stands at 168, with two still under investigation. Ms Wilson warned that there were three cases from on-island contacts.

She added that the return to school next month would have an effect on the Government’s testing services.

Ms Wilson said private events and boating, including a raft-up last weekend, were a hazard to public health.

She added that public health regulations had been amended to limit raft-ups to a maximum of three boats.

Mr Burt said: “We have all seen the images from this past weekend of the raft-up that took place.

“It seems as if persons are being less and less careful and more and more cavalier.”

He warned the community: “Do not test the new Minister of National Security.”

Ms Wilson said the Cabinet had reviewed traveller requirements for passengers who arrived without a pre-departure test.

Arrivals have been required to test on arrival and quarantine for at least eight days since Tuesday.

Ms Wilson gave an update on workplace guidance for medium-risk jobs where staff had frequent or close contact with people in high-population environments.

Examples included schools, stores, construction sites, the police service, public transport and gyms.

Travel policy recommendations are that employees should not return to work until they receive a day-14 clear test result.

They should wait until a clear day-8 test result at a minimum.

Diallo Rabain, the education minister, said public schools would reopen on September 14.

He said he had the new schedule for school buses and that the service would be boosted by minibuses.

Mr Rabain added that the schedule would be published soon.

He advised parents that principals had returned to work on Monday and that teachers would go back to the job next Tuesday.

Schools will open at 8.30am, with parents warned not to leave children unattended before that time because staff may not be able to ensure social-distancing.

Jason Hayward, the labour minister, gave an update on emergency benefits for people left jobless by the pandemic.

He said the application forms, from the Department of Financial Assistance, had been streamlined.

Approved supplementary benefit recipients will get $1,500 a month payment until March 31 next year.

Some will get an additional $429 in health insurance support.

Mr Hayward said health insurance payments would be made direct to the health insurance department.

He added that there had been 683 applications and that 55 per cent were in “various stages of processing due to incomplete submissions”.

All applications will be vetted and means-tested, and the department will notify applicants if required details are missing.