“Bermuda remains among the top ten countries in the world for vaccinations administered relative to population size.”

This from Premier David Burt on the latest stats recorded by ourworldindata.org.

Speaking at the latest COVID briefing on Tuesday (Feb 23), the Premier said: “We are getting closer to our goal of having 19,000 persons fully immunized by March 31st.”

To date, 17,073 doses have been administered.

“What is most important is that the number of doses administered increased this week by 24 percent, which demonstrates that the move to the Bermuda College has had its intended effect of increasing the pace of our vaccination program,” said Mr Burt.

“While this is very welcomed news, it is vital for all Bermudians to understand that this is not a time to let your guard down.

“We have all worked hard to put our country in a place where curfew can be removed, and measures can be relaxed. Let us not undo that hard work by neglecting our collective responsibility to adhere to the measures still in place.

“As we know, it only takes one person to start an outbreak, and it is vital that we remain vigilant,” he added.

“Please ensure that you continue to follow the regulations, specifically the regulations governing the amount of persons that can gather. In addition to that, the regulations which are necessary and required for mastering physical distances to ensure that you are doing what is necessary to reduce the potential spread of a virus.

“Failure to adhere to these measures endangers the community and the progress we have made. I want to be clear that the Government¬†will not¬†hesitate to reimpose measures such as curfew if it is deemed necessary in the interest of public health.

“Now I know that there is some commentary in the public domain that the Government has been heavy handed in its approach. Let me address those criticisms this way.

“I would prefer to be criticized for being heavy handed than to be criticized for having excess debt and endless lockdowns, which can be seen in other countries.

“Bermuda has not had a shelter in place, which ended at the beginning of last May; we have not had to shut down non-essential businesses with the exception of bars and nightclubs since the previous outbreak,” said Mr Burt.

“Whereas we’ve seen in many different countries, whether that be in the United States, whether it be the United Kingdom, Europe, whether it be the Caribbean, or other places where we have seen a significant amount of restrictions, which have happened, and have continued.

“Our heavy handed actions preserve economic activity and allowed the opportunity for limited tourism in this country for people to earn a living. That is a record that I’m proud of, and for persons who criticize the Government for being heavy handed, unfortunately

“I must disappoint you because we have choices to make. And this Government is going to make sure that we choose the side of ensuring that we keep the country safe while striking the balance to allow economic activity to continue.”

He also noted that the Minister of Health, Kim Wilson, “recommended a 60-day extension of the Public Health Emergency Order”.

The Bill was passed in the Lower House on Friday and passed in the Senate on Monday (Feb 22).

On that note, the Premier said: “The Public Health Emergency is therefore extended until April 25, 2021, and at which time we will assess whether further extensions may be needed.”