National Security Minister Wayne Caines stated outright on Tuesday that the “type of behaviour” that amounts to a “serious assault on police officers that took place on Monday “cannot and must not be tolerated”.
The Minister acknowledged the incident involving “an impaired driver who coughed on police”, then told them he had COVID-19.
“Regrettably these officers are now quarantined to ensure their safety..
“This is considered a serious assault and will be dealt with accordingly in the courts,” he said.
The Minister updated the public on areas run under his Ministry during the latest COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday as it pertains to the Uniformed Services, which includes the Bermuda Police Service (BPS), the Royal Bermuda Regiment (RBR), the Bermuda Fire & Rescue Service (BFRS), HMS Customs, the Departments of Immigration and Corrections.
“The BPS Officers managing the incident exercised professionalism and enacted their protocols. And they should be commended,” said Mr Caines.
The RBR continues “their deployment across the island providing support in a variety of capacities”, he added.
“In partnership with the BPS the Community Advisory Points recorded a total of 13,633 stops on Monday, April 13.
“To provide some added context, the total stops over the last six (6) days was 44,600. I should note however that the majority of stops were exempted persons.”
Checkpoints conducted at 21 locations on Monday involved 107 soldiers, who were “directly involved in this operation”.
“In conjunction with the BPS marine officers, soldiers of the Bermuda Coast Guard continue to maintain a daily presence on Bermuda waters to both ensure that the COVID-19 Emergency Order is enforced, and to ensure 24-hour search and rescue capability.”
Coast Guard activity on Monday “included towing a boat with three persons on board in the North Shore area”, he added.
“They were subsequently met by the BPS at a local area dock.
“Members of the Coast Guard also participated in training exercises with the RFA Argus’ Wildcat and Merlin helicopters.
“The aircraft were also working in conjunction with the RBR in identifying potential landing sites if required after a major hurricane.
“To be clear, there was no contact between the crews of the boats and helicopters.
“Additionally, our RBR soldiers accompanied DPT drivers who are operating a special bus service for the Bermuda Hospitals Board’s healthcare workers.”
Meanwhile, BFRS Emergency Medical Technicians from the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service “continue to provide critical response for all medical related incidents within the community”.
“Since April 1, the BFRS Dispatch Center has processed a total of 172 medical calls,” said Mr Caines.
“The BFRS Dispatch Centre has heightened its questioning at the receipt of 9-11 EMS calls to identify any at-risk population.
“The Dispatch Centre has taken guidance from our local health professionals as they field a number of COVID related queries. The leadership at the BFRS continue to do their due diligence of keeping the frontline staff informed and updated on the latest information and recommendations regarding response during this challenging time.”
The Minister also noted that the Customs Department’s “essentials operational units continue to function”.
“The Commercial Operations / also known as the Longroom – continue with electronic submissions.
“We continue to closely asses our seaport operations to ensure that we manage any potential container processing backlog.
“And our team at our ports of entry continue to assess arriving vessels such as yachts to ensure that they are adhering to Bermuda’s Emergency Order guidelines and protocols in place.
“Overall, the staff continue to provide a service with the resources they have,” he added.
“They are working on a rotational basis and are performing remote tasks from home where and whenever possible.
“Over at the Department of Immigration, the Chief Immigration Officer and her team continues working to meet the needs of its stakeholders in these challenging times.
“The Department will exercise flexibility with employers, agencies, visitors, and the general public, in light of the current circumstances.”
Minster Caines also advised that “the Department of Corrections continue to operate on a reduced regime, reminding that inmate visits have been suspended, and visits to facilities by vendors and other external agencies including government departments have been put on hold unless it is essential”.
“Non-operational staff continue to work remotely. Staffing levels have not been impacted and Corrections staff continue to carry out their duties professionally despite the challenges,” he said.
“Also I am pleased to highlight a project that is having favourable feedback both within and outside of our facilities.
“With the assistance of Corrections staff, inmates are working on the ‘Mask Task’ project which involves designing and sewing masks for both the inmates and staff.
“The intent is to issue the homemade masks in the very near future once they have been completed. In lieu of regular face to face visits, the department will be introducing virtual visit for the inmates at all facilities this week.”
The Minister concluded: “We recognize that our Corrections staff and inmates alike are concerned about the potential implications of COVID-19 in our facilities as well as the impact on the island in general.”
“However the department continues to ensure that every effort is taken to mitigate any risks of the disease affecting our staff and/or inmates.”