File Photo Courtesy of TNN

It may be a sign that people are growing weary of restrictions imposed by COVID-19, but government officials confirmed last night that in Bermuda, “our collective behaviour is deteriorating” on social distancing and the use of masks.

As the island moved into Phase 3B of the relaxation of restrictions in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic, Health Minister Kim Wilson said we are in the “red zone”.

When it comes down to personal protective equipment, she said that status reflects the fact that stocks of medical gowns were down to a three-month supply.

Meanwhile, the Health IQ app now has 7,700 users moving closer to the Government’s goal for 10,000 people to sign up.

But on the down side, she said: “I have to highlight that mask wearing and physical distancing have deteriorated.

“The Bermuda Health Council is working with HealthIQ to monitor reports and we can see that while overall mask wearing has increased, over the past week it has definitely deteriorated. We need to get better and more consistent about this.

“With respect to physical distancing, the reports show that our collective behaviour is deteriorating, and we are not even hitting 75 percent compliance, which is too low to get us to a green light on this indicator,” said Ms Wilson.

“Physical distancing is extremely important. If you are not wearing a mask stay six feet apart. If you have to be closer than six feet wear a mask and try to stay at least three feet apart.

“We can also see from HealthIQ that a higher number of persons are reporting potential symptoms,” she added.

“I’m very encouraged that people are availing themselves of our testing capability through the pop-ups, the drive-through and the mobile testing. This gives us assurance that we don’t have persons unknowingly spreading covid in the community.”

Pop-up testing sites will be set up today from 9am to 1pm, and 3pm to 7pm, at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in Hamilton and at stalls outside the Shelly Bay MarketPlace from 3pm to 7pm.

“In order to ensure that wait times at pop-up testing venues are as minimal as possible, I would encourage residents wishing to get tested, to please ideally book an appointment. This makes it a faster, more convenient experience for you,” said Ms Wilson.

“You can book online via the government website or call the COVID-19 hotline 444-2498 between 9am and 9pm and one of our helpful telephone operators will be happy to make a reservation for you.

“A full schedule of testing days and times has been posted to the Government website.

“For more information about pop-up testing, you can call 444-2498.”

Now that local gyms are clear to open under Phase 3B, the Minister warned that it was “highly likely” visits would have to be pre-booked.

With six foot distancing, she said masks can be left off for high-extension activities, but they were still advised for low intensity workouts.

The Minister also noted that gyms should consider closing off their showers and locker rooms.

Speaking at the latest COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, Premier David Burt emphasised that he was “not willing to sacrifice our entire tourism industry”.

“We need to approach this from a different perspective. How are we going to live with coronavirus, which will be with us for some time?”

Ultimately, he said he was “confident we are going to get it right” and that “Bermuda will be a leader in this space”.