Bermuda will ease its lockdown restrictions from tomorrow, 20 April, but households are still not allowed to mix and a night-time curfew will be in place.
Seven people have died in the island’s most recent surge in cases, including two this weekend, bringing the total number of deaths to 19.
Bermuda went into a strict seven-day lockdown last week – for the third time since March last year – after a surge in locally transmitted cases. The island’s premier, David Burt, when announcing the ‘stay at home’ restrictions at the time, revealed that he had also contracted the virus, but as he had been vaccinated, he had no symptoms.
As of Saturday, there were 868 active cases in Bermuda, with 37 people hospitalised, including seven who were in intensive care. The number of new cases daily, since 1 April, has fluctuated between 37 and 118. The island has seen 2,060 positive cases of COVID-19 since March 2020.
According to the Bermuda government’s statistics, the majority of the 19 people who have died are aged over 60, and 61% of those are males.
Bermuda health authorities announced 63 new cases on Saturday, with 28 confirmed local transmissions, and one involving a traveller. The 34 other cases were classified as being under investigation, but appeared to have no travel history.
Burt stated on Friday that a new daily curfew, from 8pm to 6am, will be in place from tomorrow; permitted businesses will be allowed to be open from 7am to 7pm; and retail stores will be open for kerbside service and delivery services.
Parks will reopen and recreational boating will be allowed, but the mixing of households is banned.
Borders remain open
On 5 April, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, classified Bermuda as ‘Level 4’, the highest risk category, and advised against any travel to the island.
The country’s borders remain open to commercial flights, after reopening in June last year. Arriving passengers are required to present a COVID-19-negative result of a PCR test taken five days before arrival. They are tested again upon landing at Bermuda L.F. Wade International Airport and must quarantine until that test result is returned, usually within 24 hours.
After that, travellers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 can move about freely, although are subject to tests four, eight and 14 days after arrival.
Unvaccinated arrivals are required to wear a colour-coded ‘traveller wristband’ for the first 14 days on island, but are not required to quarantine. Travellers from the UK who have not been vaccinated are required to quarantine in their accommodation for four days, at which point they are tested again.
Burt has blamed the latest surge in the disease on the island on the “reckless conduct” of individuals who had mixed outside their family groups in the weeks before and during the long Easter weekend.
In the most recent press briefing on Friday, Burt said it was not his government’s intention to introduce quarantine restrictions on incoming travellers at this stage.
In response to a reporter’s question on why 14-day quarantine periods were not required for travellers coming from countries with stronger variants of COVID, Burt said, “That’s not part of our current policy right now, but as I’ve indicated … our future adjustments will take that into account.”
Prior to the latest lockdown measures announced on 11 April, gatherings had been limited to 25 people, but local media had reported that several house parties had been held attended by considerably more than that number. One such party in mid-February has been described by authorities as a “superspreader event”.
Vaccination drive continues
Bermuda has a similar-sized population to Cayman, with approximately 64,000 residents.
As of 10 April – the latest statistics publicly available – 45,761 vaccinations had been distributed, and 40% of the population had received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 31% had received both.
By comparison, 53% of the total population in Cayman has had at least one dose, and 43% have completed the two-dose course.
Bermuda’s Health Minister Kim Wilson, in the press briefing on Friday, appealed to local doctors to volunteer their time to vaccinate residents, as the island attempts to reach herd immunity through inoculations by the end of May.
Wilson said both the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines are available in Bermuda.