SACKED: Leading cabinet ministers quit over breach of COVID-19 rules in Bermuda

Cabinet ministers no more: both the ministries of National Security as well as Tourism and Transport in Bermuda have their top positions vacant amid resignations by Wayne Caine (right) and Zane DeSilva earlier this week.

Two of Bermuda’s leading cabinet ministers resigned on Monday night (July 6) after sparking widespread backlash for attending a party at a plush restaurant where coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations were breached.

National Security Minister Wayne Caines and Tourism and Transport Minister Zane DeSilva left the cabinet after they accepted an “invitation to resign” from Premier David Burt.

Friday night’s party at the Blu Bar and Grill restaurant in Warwick parish was attended by Caines and DeSilva and drew criticism and furore for breaches of COVID-19 health restrictions.

Short video clips making the rounds on social media showed guests dancing in proximity without face masks, including Caines and DeSilva.

Caines had granted permission 24 hours earlier for more than 50 people to gather at the party, a fundraising dinner for the charity Meals on Wheels.

A section of the popular Blu Bar & Grill in Bermuda. (Photo: Facebook @BlueBermuda)

A frustrated Premier Burt said in a statement “the events of this weekend seen widely on social media did not represent this government’s months of struggle and hard work to keep Bermuda safe.”

“Every citizen has been forced to make significant changes in how we live, work and socialise; ministers are no different. It is this that I communicated to Ministers DeSilva and Caines,” Burt remarked.

Burt added he was “frustrated and immensely disappointed that this incident has deprived the community of two extremely hard-working and dedicated ministers”.

He said both had worked “tirelessly” during the pandemic to keep the community safe and support economic recovery.

Premier David Burt

“Their energy and zeal demonstrated a genuine care and concern for the people of Bermuda. I will remain forever grateful for their contributions,” the Bermudian Premier continued.

Burt, who reshuffled the cabinet just last month, said he would replace the two in “the coming days”.

“Make no mistake, our commitment is unchanged and each day continues to be devoted to doing the best that we can to create opportunities for Bermudians,” he further noted.

Earlier, the restaurant issued an apology for a lapse in social distancing filmed at the party and said it would close for two days to train staff in guidelines for protection against the pandemic, which has led to nine deaths among 146 confirmed cases on the island.