Health Minister Kim Wilson confirmed that the Cabinet has approved another set of recommendations, with the decision to re-introduce the curfew as of 12:30am on December 23.
The re-introduction comes in the wake of the Omicron variant and the recent surge in the number of COVID cases in Bermuda.
Speaking at the latest briefing held via Zoom earlier today, the Minister stressed that the “number one priority is to ensure that we are protecting all our residents”.
“This especially includes our most vulnerable members of the community,” she added.
“Omicron is indiscriminate, and we must put safeguards in place to not only protect our people, but to ensure that our healthcare system does not become overwhelmed.
As of Thursday (Dec 23), the following requirements will come into effect:
➢ We will be reinstituting a curfew from 12.30am – 5am
➢ Maximum group sizes will move back to 20 people
➢ Household mixing is strongly discouraged. However, if you must attend a household other than your own over the holidays, we are strongly urging persons to take an antigen test before they visit another home.
➢ Masks must be worn indoors at all times and, also, outdoors when you are within 6 feet of another person.
➢ For restaurants, bars and clubs, tables will be limited to a maximum of 10 people and must be spaced 6ft apart. SafeKey will continue to be required for these indoorsettings.
➢ We are encouraging employees who are able, to work remotely from home. Along with this, we are encouraging employers to use antigen tests to ensure employees who must be at the workplace are negative for COVID-19.
➢ Churches will be open – however masks must be worn by all – the officiants, congregation and choirs.
➢ Gyms can remain open – but SafeKey must continue to be used and physical distancing must be observed; and for
➢ Personal care services – SafeKey is recommended for those services that require masks to be removed.
The Minister also noted that “this mixture of legislative and guidance changes will slow transmission of the coronavirus”
“I cannot stress enough the significance of individuals making the right and smart choices over this holiday season.
“We must collectively do everything we can to avoid mass community transmission,” said Ms Wilson.
“As I stated last week, caution must be taken in high-risk settings – the gatherings and Christmas parties which take place at this time of year.”
On that note, she urged residents to “stick to the basics and be safe”, and to “wear your mask properly, practice good hand hygiene and keep physically distanced from those not in your household”.
“Consider prioritizing your outings and do not try to go to everything. Try to minimize mixing between households.
“Take an antigen test before you go out so that you know your status. A home test is a quick easy way to find out whether you are infectious,” she added.
“We must all follow these safety tips but, as I have said many times, vaccination remains the best defense against the virus that causes COVID-19, and I encourage all unvaccinated people to get vaccinated.”
The Minister also lamented the fact that the Delta variant on-island claimed “many” lives.
“Unfortunately, our experience with the Delta wave is that unvaccinated people are particularly susceptible to infection and, in significantly greater numbers, they ended up in hospital.
“Sadly, many died,” she said.
“Omicron is fast moving and highly transmissible. That is a fact.
“And I remain extremely concerned that this variant will spread among the unvaccinated as well as vulnerable people in our community, which could potentially cause another surge in the numbers of people being hospitalised.”
She further urged residents to “do the research, talk with your doctor and make an informed decision about getting the COVID-19 vaccine”, and refer to the “wealth of information” about the vaccines online at gov.bm.
“Regarding the booster programme, Pier Six remains open until December 23,” the Minister added.
“Those individuals who are 65 and over and who are eligible for a booster (as their second jab was more than six months ago), should take advantage of this opportunity before this vaccine centre closes for the holidays.
“If you are 65 and over, you do not need an appointment at Pier Six. Just walk in and get the jab.
“Furthermore, I am pleased to announce that booster appointments are once again open for booking on weekdays at Pier Six from January 5. Second dose appointments will be made for Saturday, January 8 and, thereafter, Pier Six will administer first and second doses on Saturdays and boosters during the week for the remainder of the month.”
And as it relates to our outbound testing regime, what we can advise at this time is that Ministry of Health continues working with our healthcare partners and professionals to make outbound antigen tests available through physicians’ offices and pharmacies.
I do note the expedited arrival testing has proven popular and, as a result, it is placing some strain on MDL. Cabinet has agreed to continue the programme for a fee of $200 to ensure sufficient resources and timely results. When the expedited process can be based at the airport, early in the first quarter of the New Year, that fee will be reduced.