Bermuda may start slowly rolling back COVID-19 restrictions next week

Premier David Burt

Bermuda’s Premier David Burt says the territory could “start a very slow rolling back” of coronavirus restrictions next week, as officials beefed-up the capacity to test for the virus.

“We will not return to life as we knew it before COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. The reopening of the airport, closed to regular flights since March 20, would also be discussed at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, ” he said at a press briefing late Monday.

Meanwhile, Bob Richards, who was Finance Minister during the One Bermuda Alliance administration between 2012 and 2017, said pay cuts for civil servants should be on the table as the government deals with the huge fiscal impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Tourists at a beach in Bermuda in 2019.

According to Richards, the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) Government was likely to face a revenue shortfall in the region of US$200 million this fiscal year as projected tax income failed to materialise from the battered economy. The national debt stood at $2.67 billion before the crisis began.

For his part, Curtis Dickinson, the current Finance Minister, has identified capital spending, hiring freezes, training and supplies as areas in which he can cut spending.

But Glenn Jones, the interim chief executive at the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA), said a return to pre-pandemic conditions would be an uphill struggle. “The cuts are deep. They had to be. There is no tolerance for business as usual at the BTA when our stakeholders have shuttered their businesses, laid off staff and struggle to plan for a future that is entirely uncertain,” said Jones in a letter to industry members.