The Minister of National Security, Renée Ming, will convene the Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) today “in order to ensure that we are prepared for the winter storm”.

Speaking at the latest COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday (Jan 27), Premier David Burt said: “It’s been rather cold and windy for the last few days, and as you may have heard, we are expecting more bad weather for the rest of the week.

“The Bermuda Weather Service is forecasting gale and storm force winds that could reach gusts of up to 70 knots, and all are asked to pay attention to the updates from the Government and Bermuda Weather Service.”

Once the EMO has met he said: “Minister Ming will provide the country with an update on the weather and the activities that will be undertaken by EMO agencies.

“The Ministry of National Security is also working with the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors to provide accommodations for Bermuda’s unsheltered population, to keep them safe during the extreme weather,” he added.

On another national security issue, the Premier also addressed the “recent incident regarding an imitation firearm”.

“Carrying an imitation firearm in public puts you and others at risk of injury or worse – it can also be unlawful,” said Mr Burt.

“Thanks to the quick response and precise decision making of the Bermuda Police Service no one was hurt. I thank them for their handling of the situation.

“I ask those in the community, please do not carry an imitation firearm and put yourself and others at unnecessary risk. Ensure you are getting the necessary permits if you are engaged in artistic activity to ensure that everyone remains safe.”

Meanwhile, he said: “The Cabinet will be reviewing all regulations next week at the regular two week interval, and I will provide an update at next week’s press conference.

“Despite the progress we are making, the coronavirus remains a severe threat to public health in Bermuda. At 6am Monday, January 25th, the Public Health Emergency Order expired and a new Public Health Emergency Order with accompanying regulations came into effect after being signed by the Governor.

“The new Public Health Emergency Order 2021 replaces the 2020 Order and there are no substantive changes to the regulations which were outlined last week,” said Mr Burt.

“The new Order and Regulations are set to expire at 6am on February 24th. If the Minister of Health is satisfied that at that time we are still in a Public Health Emergency, she will ask for the Order to be extended when the House of Assembly convenes on February 19th.

“It is essential that we keep doing what we have been doing over the last two months to ensure that this virus remains under control as we ramp up our vaccination programme so that we can see the end of this Public Health Emergency as soon as possible.

“The best way to assist in that aim, of ending the Public Health Emergency, is to get the facts surrounding vaccination, and following that – get vaccinated when you are able to do so. If we want to return to our pre-COVID lifestyles, it is essential that as many persons as possible get vaccinated.”

He also noted that Government House “has confirmed that an additional 19,500 doses will arrive on the British Airways flight on Thursday, January 28th (weather permitting)”.

“This is enough to fully vaccinate at least, 9,750 additional residents. As a country, our goal remains to vaccinate 19,000 residents or 36% of the eligible population by March 31st. I remain confident that as a country we will meet this target.

“There are many countries around the world that are still waiting to receive their first doses of vaccines, so we are very fortunate, however we must not take this for granted. I encourage those persons who are eligible in Phase 1, those 65 and over, to get the facts and register to receive the vaccine.

“If you have questions or concerns, speak to your medical doctor. Do not make a critical medical decision based on advice from social media or a WhatsApp forward from your friends – you wouldn’t rely on that for any other medical decision – so do not do it with this one. Go to credible and trusted resources for your information. Research, and talk to the experts and professionals whose job it is to advise you regarding your health,” he added.

“The faith and trust we have shown in our testing system should also apply toward our vaccination programme. You should not leave it up to random social media posts to advise you on how to best protect yourself and your family from the coronavirus, or worse, cause you to not take the vaccine which can help you protect you and your loved ones.

“I welcome the news that there has been an increase in the number of black persons registering their interest in the vaccine, as has been seen in the last few days of registrations,” said Mr Burt.

“As more people understand how the vaccine works and see for themselves that it is indeed safe and effective, I am confident that more Bermudians will step forward to get vaccinated.

“We have all seen how we have come together as a community to tackle crises, emergencies, and natural disasters. You need to look no further than what happens in every neighborhood across the Island after a hurricane to see the true Bermudian resilience and spirit. Let us harness that same spirit of togetherness to protect one another by getting the facts around the vaccine and when it is our turn, get vaccinated.”