Government Health officials continue to press forward with lowering the approved age of 16 and over for the COVID vaccine down to 12 to 15.

This from the Minister of Health Kim Wilson, who noted that “the Food & Drug Administration and Health Canada have both approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 years old”, while speaking at the latest COVID-19 briefing.

“As the Memorandum of Understanding between the Bermuda Government and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office specifies the vaccine can be used on people aged 16 years and over, we are still working on a resolution of this issue before we can begin to administer the vaccine to the lower age group of 12 – 15 year olds.

“As Bermuda reaches a milestone of having 50 percent of our population immunized, I would like to announce some changes to our guidance,” said Ms Wilson.

“A number of people have asked: Why aren’t we following the guidance issued by the Centres for Disease Control and Infection, the CDC, with respect to immunized persons?’

”I can say that each country has developed its own approach in battling the coronavirus.

“Bermuda takes into account the information, advice and guidance issued by trusted sources such as the World Health Organisation, Public Health England and, yes, the CDC. However, we cannot blindly follow other organisations.

“We must take into account our own situation as we adjust and adapt to the pandemic,” she said.

“For example, the CDC has a quarantine period of ten days and does not require its citizens to ‘test out’ of quarantine. In Bermuda, however, we have found residents testing positive on day 8 and day 14, so we have not followed the CDC in advocating a shorter quarantine period, and we continue to require a negative test result to get out of quarantine.

“Nonetheless, we are pleased to see our indicators moving in the right direction and will now update our guidance as it pertains to immunized persons.”

These relaxations apply to immunized persons only.

1.       Return to work: If you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from work unless you have symptoms but you must wear appropriate PPE and test at the beginning and end of COVID-19 incubation period. Certain workplaces, such as healthcare providers and Corrections may require a more strict application of this.

2.       Mask wearing indoors: Indoor gatherings are allowed with other immunised people (i.e. those who have had two vaccine doses + 2 weeks have passed) without masks being worn. However, people with medical vulnerabilities should continue to wear masks if physical distancing cannot be maintained.

3.    Mask wearing outdoors: Gatherings outdoors with other immunized people with no masks worn are allowed except in certain crowded and high risk settings or venues.

“Given that Bermuda is still in community transmission, it is important to know that key public health measures will continue to be in force,” the Minister added.

“These include having a curfew, limiting the size of gatherings and the number of people seated at a table and, most important, wearing a mask indoors where physical distancing cannot be achieved or the vaccination status of the people around you is unknown.

“I cannot over-emphasise this point: after vaccination, mask wearing is the single most important public health measure you can take. If you are not vaccinated, wear that mask!

“Also, before I end, I would like to address the timing of the traveller’s pre-arrival test. It was announced previously that the timeframe for the pre-arrival test would change from 5 days to 3 days, from 6 June.

“We have listened to the concerns expressed about this being too short a period to allow for a test result to be received. Therefore, from 6 June the Ministry will change the timeframe for the pre-arrival test from 5 days to 4 days.

“Please remember, each of us must do our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus,” she added.

“Stay safe, Bermuda, and don’t forget to avoid the three “Cs”: closed spaces, crowded places and close contact settings.”

Parents interested in having their children vaccinated were also “encouraged to register their appropriately aged children on gov.bm so the Ministry of Health can gauge interest in being vaccinated”.