New Public Health Regulations went into effect as of 6am this morning (March 21), which will “roll back the current measures to what was in place mid-December”.
Premier David Burt emerged from a full briefing by the Minister of Health, in a Cabinet meeting held on Saturday saying: “We must act now.”
As of tonight, the curfew goes into effect from 11pm until 5am, as opposed to midnight.
Local clubs and bars will be prohibited from serving patrons indoors, outdoor service is for table service only.
Premier Burt added: “The increased number of children now testing positive is concerning, and the swift action taken to test entire schools reflects our determination to do all we can to keep our young people safe.
“It is beyond frustrating to think that we are still dealing with the consequences of the reckless actions of a few in the community. Thankfully, one year on from the start of this pandemic, we not only have the testing capacity to isolate positive cases, but we have a vaccination programme that is steadily providing much-needed protection to the most vulnerable.”
Minister Wilson noted: “The public health advice for the safe operation of schools has mostly been followed, and I commend our teachers and principals who have supported the recent testing effort and through whose leadership we have been able to quickly isolate positive cases and continue with classroom learning.”
Recognizing the potential economic impact of these changes, Premier Burt indicated that he had asked the Minister of Finance to renew the supplementary unemployment benefit support for affected workers.
“All affected employees of businesses that are unable to open will receive payments up to a maximum of $1500 this week, which will cover the 3 weeks of closure,” said Mr Burt.
“Any affected businesses will be eligible for grants to cover expenses and overheads as was done by the BEDC in December.”
The Premier concluded: “Our whole approach is about balance. We have to strike the right balance between protecting the Island and keeping this economy open, and moving towards recovery. We can and must do both.
“The actions we are taking today are proactive, and this pandemic has shown that early action prevents longer periods of restrictions.
“The highly contagious UK strain, which is the source of this outbreak, must be met with early action, and that is the action we are taking today,” he added.
“The restrictions announced today will be in effect for at least three weeks.
“I continue to salute the people of Bermuda who have summoned the inner strength to meet the demands of these unique times.
“We are doing well as a country, and our successes are in no way diminished by our current circumstances.
“The Ministry of Health, from the Minister to those vaccinating our people, is leading an effort on all fronts to ensure that we can achieve that balance. We are well-positioned to meet this most recent challenge and to continue the work of rebuilding this economy. ”
It was also noted that the Minister of Health, Kim Wilson, will make a Ministerial Statement in the House of Assembly on Monday.