Premier David Burt moved to dispel “some misinformation that has been spreading” claiming that the Bermuda planned to have “persons who are not vaccinated” pay for their hotel stay in advance of their departure from the island or they will not be allowed to leave”.
Speaking at the latest COVID briefing last night (May 13), Mr Burt said: “This misinformation is dangerous and only sows division – at a time that this country needs unity.
“I understand it makes good marketing for a protest, and the lies are effective in getting people riled up, but it is not helpful as it is false and will cause unnecessary division in our community.”
He also reiterated “key points regarding the mandatory supervised quarantine for non-immunised travellers”.
“As of May 5th, we have implemented stricter rules at our border to protect Bermuda from dangerous variants that exist in other countries. Currently all non-immunised travelers entering Bermuda will be required to quarantine for 4 days at home or on their tourism property pending the receipt of their Day 4 negative test.
“All fully immunised travellers with a valid negative pre-test must quarantine until they receive their arrival test. Immunised travellers without a pre-test must quarantine at home until receiving a negative Day 4 test. All arriving travellers will continue to be tested on day 4, day 8 and day 14 following their arrival test,” said Mr Burt.
“From June 6, mandatory supervised quarantine for all non-immunized travellers will come into effect to strengthen our protection at our border against dangerous variants. Many members of the public have reached out to ask for clarification on who is exempt from supervised quarantine so I will reiterate the key points from the Minister of National Security’s announcement last week regarding exemptions.”
Non-immunised travellers would be required to undertake supervised quarantine in hotels at their own expense. But he stated again that hotel bookings would not be required or paid for before people left the island.
He also reiterated that there were exemptions to the requirement for people with medical reasons not to take the vaccine or returning to students who had been unable to get a vaccination.
The following persons are exempt from mandatory supervised quarantine in a designated facility and therefore are allowed to quarantine at home:
1. Minors aged 17 years or younger travelling alone, parents travelling with a child 4 years old or younger.
2. Senior citizens aged 65 years or older will be able to apply to quarantine at home.
3. Persons who have a medical certificate from their Doctor, persons who are certified for essential medical travel & persons who are considered to be an essential medical companion for persons travelling for medical treatment will be able to apply to quarantine at home.
4. Residents who left Bermuda before May 6 and are unable to meet the requirements to be exempt due to the inability to access vaccinations overseas. This would apply to students or other Bermudians who are residing overseas temporarily and are returning to Bermuda on or after June 6th and therefore are unable to comply. Students or residents who cannot access vaccinations overseas, will not be required to pay for supervised quarantine and can apply to quarantine at home.
5. A maximum of 2 parents or guardians escorting a minor to an educational institution will be able to apply to quarantine at home as this travel is considered essential travel akin to accompanying a family member for medical treatment.
“If you do not fall under one of these categories, and are not fully immunised you will be subject at this time, to mandatory supervised quarantine from June 6th at your own expense,” said the Premier.
“The Cabinet will consider final conditions, and will make the final announcement regarding supervised and unsupervised quarantine at our press conference on Tuesday.
“There is still feedback on certain things that we want to consider, and ensure we addressed every concern that is there.
But he said: “The Government does realise that not everyone agrees with this policy, but what we can all agree on is that we want our schools and businesses to stay open, we want to be able to gather safely with our family and friends, and we want to see an end to all restrictions.
“It is clear that our country’s emotional health, our mental health, and our financial health cannot afford another lockdown, and that is why it is vital for us to take strong actions at our border.”
The Premier also acknowledged reports of vaccination discrimination within Bermuda.
“I also recognise there are growing concerns around vaccine status discrimination,” said Mr Burt.
“I reiterate that vaccinations are a personal choice, and outside of the protections that are required at the border to keep new Dangerous variants out of Bermuda that could lead to another shutdown, there shouldn’t be different treatment locally. The Government has heard of some reports of businesses who have denied entry based on vaccinations status – and we will be issuing proper legal guidance to all at Tuesday’s press conference.
“While the Government must make difficult decisions in the interest of public health, to eliminate local transmission and protect the country from dangerous variants, we will always support a person’s right to choose whether or not they wish to get vaccinated. This includes in the workplace where the law does not allow employers to demand that their employees be vaccinated. In all workplaces we want to make sure there is safety, and there will be further discussions with employers on how we make sure that testing can augment a safe environment like what is taking place at the hospital.”
Overall, he said: “We have seen a decrease in new and active cases, and have successfully moved to Phase 2 of our reopening strategy. We have seen our local transmission 14 day average drop from 25 cases two weeks ago to six (6) as of yesterday (May 12). However, we are still seeing unlinked cases reported, and therefore we must not allow ourselves to become complacent and delay our move to Phase 3, which is envisioned to begin on June 6th.
“This is an important point. We still have a lot of work to do, and as the Minister of Health said we are not out of the woods yet.”
In closing, the Premier said: “We are blessed to live in a diverse and free country. A country where each person has the right to express their views, their concerns and their beliefs.
“Even when our opinions differ, we must remember that the current battle that we are in is not between one Bermudian and another.
“The battle is Bermuda united against the coronavirus.
“The only way we can continue to move beyond the pandemic is to work together, unified in our efforts to keep our country moving toward the end of restrictions and back to the normality that we all are aiming for.”