Members of the public are being urged not to attend the Reconvening of Parliament on Friday (November 6), which will be held in St George’s in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Parliament, where it was first held.

The Throne Speech will be read in King’s Square and Bermuda’s parliamentarians will be sworn in for the new legislative session at St Peter’s Church.

Premier David Burt has stated that this year’s Throne Speech will be shorter than usual. It will also be the last speech to be read by outgoing Governor John Rankin, who is due to step down at the end of the month.

A government spokesperson said: “In order to adhere to physical distancing requirements, the general public is urged not to attend. Instead the proceedings, with commentary, will be carried live on CITV, Government’s Facebook page and local media. Coverage will begin at 10am.”

Speaking at the latest COVID-19 briefing earlier this week, the Premier noted that Bermuda’s first General Assembly was established in 1620.

“This is the 400th anniversary. To give you a history refresher, one of the first laws passed in Bermuda was a conservation law protecting turtles in 1623,” he said.

“For those who may not be aware, ours is one of the oldest Legislatures in the Commonwealth, and in the Western Hemisphere second only to the Palace of Westminster in London, home to Big Ben. In Bermuda, Members of the Colonial Parliament as it was called then, were holding meetings 150 years before the American war of Independence in 1776.

“Imagine there were arguments and debates in Bermuda’s Assembly, 150 years before the United States was even born; and for that we Bermudians should be especially proud,” said Mr Burt.

“Throughout Bermuda’s long history of oligarchies, suppression of voting rights for women and for Black Bermudians, there have been necessary occasions where the Power of the People overturned Parliament’s authority; and Bermuda is all the better for it.

“This pandemic has certainly impacted our economy and changed how we live and work. However, the Government was elected to ensure that we continue the work of rebuilding Bermuda with Bermudians at heart.”

But he said: “Unfortunately this year due to the pandemic there will be restrictions on the attendees in St George. I hope that you will tune in to hear the legislative plan that the government has in store for this year.

“This Throne Speech will be shorter than in years past. That is because the government is going to lay out what we can deliver in the legislative year.”