As of this Friday, you will have to prove you do not have COVID-19 or are vaccinated to patronise local bars and restaurants.

The new protocols announced by Health Minister Kim Wilson came after 52 new cases were recorded this week, bringing the total number of active cases up to 113.

In the statement released last night, the Minister said: “SafeKey will now be required for indoor public spaces where masks are permitted to be removed, namely; indoor dining, bars, clubs, and sports/members clubs as well as attending a gym/fitness facility.

“SafeKey will also be required to board all Island Boats with more than 20 passengers. Finally, SafeKey will be required for the granting of all new large group exemptions,” she added.

The new restrictions will go into effect at 6pm on Friday.

The Minister also stated that “the scale of this outbreak is such that we must make some adjustments to the Public Health regulations and protocols”.

“We cannot ignore the fact that we now have 113 active cases,” said Ms Wilson.

She also noted that the fact that 75 percent of the island’s “eligible population” had been vaccinated offered Bermuda some protection.

“This is not 2020 and the progress we have made in vaccinating 75 percent of our eligible population means that we can adjust but not interrupt our everyday lives and continue to safely enjoy this summer,” she said.

“What we are doing now is designed not only to continue to protect the vulnerable and prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed, which remains our overall goal, but to also protect our students’ return to school.

“While there is not a risk to the hospital being overwhelmed at this time, we must continue to abide by the basic and effective actions that help to protect us, protect others and reduce the spread of the coronavirus.”

The Minister also stated that “events where the Public Health Guidelines are followed, are so far proving to be safe”.

“Large events where attendees are confirmed as fully vaccinated or have tested negative within 72 hours of the event and therefore are in possession of a SafeKey are also proving to be safe thus far,” she added.

When we step back and examine where we are now, more than four weeks after the first Eastern County Game and almost three weeks after the Cup Match Holiday weekend, not one positive case or cluster has yet been identified as associated with large events that used SafeKey.”

The Minister concluded: “We remain in a global pandemic.

“We have an outbreak to manage locally and settings in which masks are permitted to be removed are the greatest risk for spreading of the virus. We must further mitigate that risk.

“Implementing the use of SafeKey in these settings is the best available tool for us to adjust but not interrupt our lives, our economy, and all of the activities which we have safely enjoyed this summer, unlike last year.”