An online petition calling for the immediate resignation of Premier David Burt over alleged SafeKey breaches at the opening of the St Regis Bermuda resort in St George’s last Saturday was heading towards 1,000 signatures today.
As of 1pm, the change.org petition, posted on social media under the name Agnes Butterfield had garnered 800 signatures.
Ms Butterfield’s petition states: “We are calling on David Burt to step down as he has demonstrated that he can not follow his own rules as clearly outlined by him and his government.
“We feel that this breach makes his position as Premier of Bermuda untenable and we are calling for his resignation immediately.”
The petition also states that Premier Burt failed to wear a mask while standing and that he did not maintain social distancing.
This after a video recorded at the event was circulated via social media showing the Premier on a balcony at the resort without a mask among a group of other people.
Meanwhile, Progressive Labour Party Chairwoman, Dawn Simmons said: “The Premier is fully vaccinated and was following the rules. That is not a reason for resignation.
“Strong leadership is about making tough decisions.
“The PLP government has had to make tough decisions in order to bring the coronavirus under control, even in the face of intense pressure to do otherwise.
“The Premier spent 14 days isolated from his family, and understands first-hand the mental and emotional stress this pandemic has wrought on Bermuda’s families.”
Opposition Leader Cole Simons said the video prompted sparked the public’s anger at the Premier’s “double standards”.
“For over a year the Premier and the Minister of Health have called for and insisted that our community to wear our masks and ensure that we all adhere to social distancing.
“The behaviour demonstrated at last week‘s event would not have been accepted had this been an event held at a private event at one‘s home,” he said.
“In the end, the Premier cannot make an excuse for this behaviour.”
Mr Simons also said the Premier should be held accountable for his “lapse of judgment” and apologise to the people of Bermuda.
“If we are to arrest this pandemic, all of Bermuda must adhere to Bermuda’s Covid-19 mitigation protocols without exception,” he said.
“This must apply to the Governor, the Premier, the man in the street and everyone in between.
“This petition is an indication that some people in Bermuda want principled leadership.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “In a democracy, every individual or group of persons have the right to express themselves and their views as they see fit.
“Saturday’s event is cause for celebration and all media coverage outside of Bermuda has described how extraordinary it is for a luxury property to open on time and on budget in the midst of a global pandemic.
“Demonstrating the technology that will allow a faster return to normality was an important part of Saturday’s event which enjoyed bipartisan support and attendance,” she added.
“With indoor dining now being enjoyed, hundreds of laid-off workers have been able to return to full-time employment. They can provide for their families, pay their bills and hold their heads high again as the weight of restrictions are lifted by the very technology that was used for the St. Regis large group exemption.
“Economic recovery is the Government’s focus and that work is evident across the Island and it will be the constant effort until we see the recovery needed for our people.”
Speaking at the latest COVID briefing earlier this week Premier Burt admitted that “the optics were not good”.
“I will accept that, when there’s a time when so many people are struggling, to see what appeared to be a celebration – it was a formal event where there were speeches.
“They took us out to the balcony for a champagne toast – but I completely accept that the optics were not good,” he said.
“But what I can say is that we took great care to make sure that the event did not contravene the guidelines and we went through and made sure that we issued SafeKeys for the invited guests.
“Those persons were immunised. The guidelines were stated last week by the Minister of Health.
“We accept the fact there is criticism but the one thing I can say is it is about what the future will look like – we want to reclaim what our future is going to be this summer.”