Bermuda announces phased withdrawal from COVID lockdown

Premier David Burt

Premier David Burt has announced a four-phase withdrawal from COVID-19 lockdown for Bermuda, starting this weekend, but schools and the international airport are likely to remain shut until at least June.

Burt disclosed Wednesday night (April 29) that several weeks of regulations had “not been easy for any of us”. Although the premier hinted at the initial phases lasting two or three weeks at a minimum, he said the government would not impose a timeframe for easing constraints.

The announcement came as Health Minister Kim Wilson announced that a single positive COVID-19 case was confirmed in 636 test results received between Tuesday and Wednesday, taking the island’s total to 111. Six people have died. Wilson said more than 2,100 tests had so far been completed.

Burt said Saturday (May 2) at 6 am would mark the end of shelter-in-place restrictions after a decision was made at a marathon Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. However, he appealed to the public to wear masks and maintain strict social distancing to avoid the risk of spread of the coronavirus.
A 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will be in force and public gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 10 people.

What to expect under phase one

Beaches will be reopened in phase one.
  • Retailers will be allowed to open between 7 am and 9 pm, but only curbside service or home delivery will be permitted.
  • Construction, mechanical and landscape services will be allowed to operate with social distancing, while wholesalers will be allowed to deliver goods. Funerals will still only have a maximum of 10 mourners.
  • There will be limited public transport from Monday, while parks and beaches will reopen, with golf courses resuming play, although club facilities must stay shuttered.

The other phases

Burt said the expansion of services would come in phase two, which would permit reopening of retail floor space and limited operation of personal services such as barbers.

Phase three would see schools reopen and a return to normal public transport. It would also mean the end of mandatory working from home.

Phase four will mean “full reopening” of personal services such as spas and the return of dining in restaurants, as well as clubs and bars. The number of people at public gatherings would be upped to 50.

He said there was also the possibility of a return of commercial flights to the island at that stage. The airport closed on March 20 to regular traffic although a number of charter flights from Britain and the United States have been allowed in to bring back residents stranded abroad.