As of 9:45pm on Sunday night (June 28), the Keep Bermuda Safe group that started the petition to Premier David Burt to ‘Keep US flights OUT of Bermuda’ on Saturday, had garnered 810 signatures in one day, with the goal set to get 1,000 signatures.
“The US is the world’s epicenter of COVID-19 with new cases surging out of Econtrolach day. The decision to allow American tourists onto our shores is questionable at best, and puts our citizen’s health and safety in jeopardy.
“Bermuda has done a great job of keeping spread to a minimum so far, but opening our borders to COVID hotspots can quickly derail our progress, eventually leading to widespread sickness, hospitalizations and ultimately deaths. Although we are promised there will be testing protocols in place, it only takes ONE case to slip under the radar for a detrimental chain of events to ensue (via superspreaders, etc). By then it could be too late for us to catch up.
“Other places around the world have shown us that rushing back to normalcy is a big mistake. States that reopened had sharp increases of infections and deaths. Air travel from the US is currently banned in the EU and Canada among others, and there is no reason we cannot follow suit.
“We understand and sympathize with the hardships in our tourism sector, but we must look at the bigger picture at stake. If our cases rise and we must return to phase one, our entire economy will be worse off, possibly beyond repair. Another lockdown will only prolong small business suffrage, and keep many of us at home instead of back to work. We love our American neighbors and will welcome them back in due time, but right now we need to be sensible. Let’s accept tourism from places that are not on the sharp incline.
“We know tourists will be tested and remain quarantined for 72 hours, but given the virus has a possible 14 day incubation period that does not offer much solace.
“We are asking Premier David Burt to DELAY all flights from the US until there’s a downward trend in their cases. We CARE about the elderly. We CARE about the sick and immunocompromised. We CARE about our little island Bermuda and it’s people. We say NO to American flights!
“We cannot make an impact without sharing.”
As noted earlier today, Premier David Burt responded to the petition saying: “The Government is aware of the petition that is circulating and the rightful concerns raised by the organizers and those who are signing it.
“As a country we have managed the impact of COVID-19 in Bermuda. Our current World Health Organization status is sporadic cases.”
He noted that the “Government’s goal has always been to contain and minimize the impact of the virus, which we have done”.
But he said: “We can’t let the economic impact on the country be worse than the disease itself.”
The next step towards reopening Bermuda’ economy he said was “a careful and deliberate process”.
“Now it is vital that we open the airport and allow visitors to arrive. This is a critical step required to get hundreds of hospitality workers back to work.
“Our testing requirements for visitors are the most stringent in the world and are designed to keep our residents and visitors safe.
“The guidelines we are implementing will be strictly adhered to,” he added.
Moving forward, he said: “All visitors coming to Bermuda who have a negative test result will be required to be tested when they arrive, on day three, day seven day and day 14 of their stay.
“The number of tests required obviously depends on the length of stay.
“If at any time their test result is positive they will be fitted with a quarantine bracelet and will be required to isolate in their room.
“The bracelets will alert the authorities if the person attempts to leave their room.
“All visitors will be required to complete an electronic pre-boarding form before they can board a plane to Bermuda,” said Mr Burt.
“They cannot have a positive test result and must not be sick or have COVID-19 symptoms. The visitor must demonstrate they have health/medical insurance to cover all medical costs should they get sick while in Bermuda.
“If a visitor becomes ill while in Bermuda, they will be required to isolate for a minimum of 14 days at their own expense or until they can leave the island by private jet or yacht.
“Additionally visitors will be told of the requirement to wear a mask, how to establish physical distancing and the requirement to frequently wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.”
Protocols will be “continually examined” and adjusted “as needed”.
Residents were also encouraged to call 211 to report any breaches observed, “to file a report with the Bermuda Police Service who will investigate immediately”.
The Premier concluded: “We have developed a good record and strong reputation for our handling of the crisis. This will continue.”