A social media post by National Security Minister Wayne Caines claiming patrons were “packed like sardines” outside a local restaurant without social distancing was labelled a gross exaggeration by the owner Mr Chicken Restaurant chain.

David Furbert, owner of five Mr Chicken outlets throughout the island, fired off a stinging letter to the Minister and copied to the Premier David Burt this weekend.

When asked for a response, the Minister hit back taking issue with Mr Furbert’s tone, and his side of the story.

Mr Furbert’s letter states:

Mr Chicken Restaurant has been a successful Bermudian creation for 35 years.
One does not reach such a plateau in any business if it is managed by idiots or just plain non-conformists.
My wife and I went about all day visiting and observing all five of our establishments.
I am proud of all our staff because they performed exemplary under tremendous pressure, particularly in our Hamilton and Heron Bay establishments where the cashiers came under verbal abouse from the odd customers when they (cashiers) demanded that customers stay physically distant.
I am deeply disappointed and annoyed that you, Minister, would (based on a picture that was posted on Facebook) would make such a comment, and I quote: “People stacked like sardines at Mr Chicken.”
That comment was a gross exaggeration.
That occuffence was not something that you witnessed because if you did I trust that you would have surely intervened.
We blew up the picture and examined it with the help of our staff:
  1. There are only four customers in the picture
  2. The cashier is stationed right at the door and is in the process of serving a customer
  3. The customer (black lady dressed in black) is next in line, correct distance from the first customer
  4. The two white ladies who were together have already been served and are standing on or very near the edge of the 8′ 4″ wide sidewalk.

In reality, no one other than those two were contravening the restrictions.

Once again, your description is a gross exaggeration and untruth.
On another note on the same day at the Heron Bay establishment it was reported to me by staff you Minister Caines with a
mask on forcibly entered the interior of Mr Chicken with no introduction to the cashier as to who you were.
Only when you were repeatedly told that you were not allowed inside and that you should get out did you identify yourself.
This is not acceptable to my staff as well as my wife and myself.
I find the behaviour quite disrespectful.
Signed: Respectfully, by David E Furbert.
As noted, the Minister, Wayne Caines issued the following response:
Thank you for your email communique and the content contained therein.
I must say I am deeply concerned by your temerity. It is clear from your letter  that you are tone deaf to the significance of the pandemic and how it can potentially negatively impact our island.
You also show little understanding of the national impact the faux pas at your restaurant had on the  psyche of our island yesterday.
Please be advised that yesterday  I  received several calls, email messages, voice notes, WhatsApp messages and pictures with reference to overcrowding, the lack of social distancing, and customers not wearing  face coverings  whilst waiting in line  at a Mr Chicken Restaurant.
After being alerted to the matters that I described above,  I jumped into my vehicle and drove to the The  Marketplace Mr Chicken In Southampton.
When I arrived at your restaurant I noticed that people were in line waiting for their orders – they were not 6 feet apart. I also noted that more than one person in the  aforementioned line did not have on a face covering.
I also noticed the cars were indiscriminately parked outside directly outside of your restaurant with several people waiting for their orders. Many of your patrons were complaining that they had been waiting for their meals for a long period of time. Please note, the people were not socially distanced.
To be blunt, the administrative process at your restaurant left much to be desired and I am being courteous in my response.
I did not barge into your restaurant; there was no one sitting at the door. The cashier who was supposed to be at the door was away from her post. I simply walked in to the restaurant.
When the cashier returned to her post I was inside and it was then she asked me who I was.
I took off my mask and she immediately recognized me.
I shared with your cashier the purpose of my visit.
Might I suggest that instead of being confrontational and defensive you should pay close attention to the terms and conditions set out for restaurants on the Goverment Website.
It was obvious that your  restaurant was inadequately staffed, hence the long line, and people waiting in the parking lot.
Your restaurant could benefit from having  a security officer present to help with crowd management.
You must ensure that your customers  in line are 6 feet apart at all times.
You must ensure that  your patrons are wearing face coverings (No exceptions) including children.
You should make sure patrons are not illegally parked and sitting directly outside of your restaurant. To be clear the patrons waiting outside by the cars or in their cars waiting for their orders must also be socially distanced and must also have on face covers.
Please note,  I strongly recommend that you deal with the above-mentioned Matters  or your Restaurant  May be shut down.
I wish you all the best.
Bermuda Real followed up with Mr Furbert this morning. Tune in to Fresh TV to hear his response at 8am Monday morning.