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Bermuda flag flying

Bermuda's 2020 March History and News

Events that made newspaper headlines in the third month of this calendar year

Bermuda Islands 1946

Bermuda parish map of 1946, island has changed hugely since then

By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online. G 

See at bottom of this page a listing of our many History files

Bermuda's only newspaper, the Royal Gazette, from which most reports below originate, is not published on Sundays or Public Holidays but sometimes has some Sunday and/or Public Holiday news online. Latest news are published first. In this file we try to publish for each day at least the most significant of Bermuda's daily news reports. We could instead merely show hyperlinks to each report but often such links exist only for weeks, not indefinitely. Please note this web file for April 2020 may be delayed or canceled if circumstances beyond our control necessitate it.

March 31

paragraphThe island now has 32 confirmed cases of Covid-19, after five additional positive test results were received today. Premier David Burt gave the update at a press conference this evening, said three of the island’s 32 cases are currently being treated at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. Three of the new cases were imported: two on a British Airways flight on March 18, and another on March 14, on American Airlines flight 308 from Miami. One of the new cases came into close contact with a confirmed case, defined as local transmission, and the other is under investigation. The Premier said only one of the six test results to be received today was negative. Mr Burt also said the nationwide curfew, imposed on Sunday and scheduled to expire tonight, will be extended a further three days. He said that there were no breaches of the curfew last night.

paragraphPremier David Burt expressed his disappointment at staff from the Department of Public Transportation who have withdrawn their services during the Covid-19 crisis. The Premier announced minibuses will now be provided so that healthcare workers can be transported to work. He said that those who have downed tools will not be paid — and that the money will be used to fund the minibus service. Mr Burt told a press conference: “To ensure healthcare workers can get to and from work in the absence of public transportation service, as workers from the Department of Public Transportation have withdrawn their labour, minibuses will be provided. I am extremely disappointed with this development from the staff at the Department of Public Transportation and this afternoon I send a letter to public officers, reminding them that they must move beyond the barriers of their job in order to provide service to the people of Bermuda as they are public officers. We will each be called upon and asked to work in a different capacity to keep the country running. It is only by working together that we can come through this unprecedented global pandemic stronger.” Mr Burt said public officers who do not wish to report for work will not be paid for the time they are absent. He added: “That money will be used to fund the minibus service.”

paragraphThe Governor said last night that an “air bridge” flight to bring Bermudians home from Britain to Bermuda is scheduled for take-off. John Rankin explained the flight was expected to take off early next week to give stranded Bermudians a chance to return to the island. Mr Rankin said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had “recognised the importance of helping Bermudian students and others in the UK who want to get back home”. He added said the aircraft would also be “loaded with cargo for Bermuda — including, I hope, pharmaceuticals”. The British Airways charter flight was approved yesterday by Baroness Sugg, the Minister for the Overseas Territories. The plane will also fly Caymanians home after the Bermuda stop. Passengers will need to pay for their flights and the cost and payment methods will be announced later. Any shortfall will be covered by the British government. Mr Rankin said the returned Bermudians would not be allowed to self-quarantine, but would have to stay in a Government-approved quarantine centre. David Burt, the Premier, said there was enough space at the island’s quarantine sites to accommodate the passengers, Mr Burt added the Government had a moral responsibility to bring people home. He said he had been received messages from Bermudians stuck in other countries by travel restrictions imposed for the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Burt added: “There are Bermudians overseas that are running out of food and I am not going to leave them overseas to fend for themselves. We will bring them home.”

paragraphLobster season in Bermuda ends tomorrow — but businesses have been given another month to sell their stock. David Burt, the Premier, announced on social media that while he would not be extending the lobster fishing season, he would allow the sale of local lobsters until the end of April. Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, confirmed the decision this afternoon. Mr Roban said: “Normally, by the end of the season, March 31, most of the lobsters would have been sold because of orders from restaurants and hotels. Because most are closed, the remaining inventory cannot be sold. This will allow the commercial lobster fishermen and commercial enterprises more time to sell their stock. However the season has ended and there shall be no more fishing for lobsters, either recreationally or commercially, nor can any lobsters caught recreationally before April 1 be sold.” A Ministry spokeswoman warned that any live lobsters will be presumed to be illegally caught and should not be purchased or possessed. Lynn Bardgett, co-owner of the Lobster Pot restaurant, said the move was a lifeline for businesses like hers. She said the restaurant was down to its last 20 lobsters this afternoon, but they would buy more because of the extension. Ms Bardgett said: “We will be finished in a couple of hours. We sold so many over the weekend we had hardly anything left, but there are fishermen who will be checking on their pots today. This is going to be good for business that have lobster on the menu.”

paragraphA big fall in restructuring charges helped Ascendant Group Limited, the parent company of Belco, achieve a 129 per cent improvement in its full year profit, reporting net income of $12.4 million, or $1.27 per share, for 2019. That was up on the $5.4 million reported in 2018, when the company shouldered restructuring charges of $9.12 million in 2018. Last year those charges fell by 68 per cent to $2.88 million. Ascendant’s core earnings were $15.3 million in 2019, about $800,000 higher than the previous year. Sean Durfy, Ascendant CEO, said: “2019 was a very busy year for the company. We made great progress with our $250 million capital plan having built and commissioned Bermuda’s first battery energy storage system and completed construction of the NPS [North Power Station]. “These are significant investments that will ensure a safe, reliable and cost-effective energy future for Bermuda.” He said shareholders had also approved the sale of the company to Algonquin. “Algonquin is an established renewable energy and utility group with North American assets in excess of $10 billion and they currently own and operate 54 energy facilities, of which 90 per cent are renewable. As part of their proposal, Algonquin has committed to continue to run all Ascendant companies locally with current Bermudian management and to support Belco as it works alongside the [Regulatory] Authority to implement the Integrated Resource Plan for Bermuda and introduce modern energy technologies to accelerate the introduction of renewables, conservation and battery storage for the island.” He said the increased net income was due to “solid operating results”. Dennis Pimentel, Belco president, said: “Belco has made great progress on the $120 million NPS replacement generation project which is currently being commissioned. In addition, we have begun our $50 million-plus upgrade to our transmission and distribution system which will ensure a much more resilient grid and the ability to add large and small scale renewables. We were also pleased to complete our rate case and deliver lower rates to our customers beginning in January 2020.” He added: “Even though electricity sales continue to decline, our cost savings measures have allowed us to lower rates for customers. We are confident that the NPS and ongoing cost saving initiatives and efficiency measures will enable us to continue to provide safe, cost-effective electricity for our valued customers.” During the year, Belco’s earnings were $19 million, up $1.35 million, or 8 per cent, on 2018. The company said the 5 per cent increase in core earnings was due to increased results at Belco and continued growth in non-utility earnings at AG Holdings Limited, partially offset by higher group expenses. Ascendant continued its share repurchase programme until 1 April last year, when it was discontinued in light of the proposed sale of the company. Share repurchases during the year totaled 139,395 at an average price of $18.26 per share. The company’s earnings and cash flow enabled its board to maintain the annual dividend rate at 45 cents per share.

paragraphThis year could be another busy one for hurricanes, a US-based weather service warned yesterday.  AccuWeather’s early 2020 Atlantic hurricane forecast said it expected between 14 and 18 tropical storms over the season, which starts on June 1. Between seven and nine storms are expected to reach hurricane strength. Two to four were predicted to become “major” hurricanes of at least Category 3 strength. Dan Kottlowski of AccuWeather said: “It’s going to be an above-normal season. “In a normal year, we have around 12 storms, six hurricanes and roughly three major hurricanes.” Last year was the fourth consecutive season with above-average hurricane activity and had 18 named storms. AccuWeather explained that the firm compared indicators with past years where similar conditions were present — and highlighted the “hyperactive” 2005 season. A total of 28 named storms formed in 2005 — so many that meteorologists ran out of names and adopted Greek letters to name the later ones. Mr Kottlowski added: “There are a number of analogue years we looked at that certainly show high-impact storms affecting the United States.” AccuWeather also factored in warmer than average waters in the Caribbean as one of the reasons behind their forecast. Mr Kottlowski said: “Warm water is actually what drives a lot of seasons, so those will be areas to keep an eye on for early-season development.”

paragraphAn insurer specialising in emerging business categories has been granted a license by the Bermuda Monetary Authority, the Premier has announced. Relm Insurance Ltd, led by chief executive officer Joe Ziolkowski and operations vice-president Keyla Roman, is owned by Deltec International Group, a Bahamas-headquartered independent financial services group, which is supplying Relm’s underwriting capacity. The company will service the insurance needs of business sectors that are new to the economy but are likely to become significant economic drivers over time, David Burt said. Mr Burt added: “I am pleased that Relm has chosen Bermuda for its digital asset insurance business. Insurance is one of the most sought-after services for digital assets and the choice of Bermuda as their domicile reaffirms our continued strong position in insurance and our developing position in Fintech.” The statement said that Relm will initially focus on digital asset enterprises and cannabis and hemp-related businesses. Their future plan is to offer insurance solutions to new sectors such as digital banking, the sharing and gig economy, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence. The first five product areas that Relm will offer are:

Currently in development for the cannabis and hemp space are insurance products for living plant coverage and bailees’ exposure, the statement said. Mr Ziolkowski said: “Our focus is on providing insurance coverage to solid companies in emerging business sectors. We truly understand how challenging it can be to get affordable cover and great business support, which is why Relm’s proposition to the marketplace is so critical. Locally, we have enjoyed a productive relationship with the BMA over the previous 18 months and have worked closely with Marsh’s Bermuda office and Appleby Bermuda to ensure a solid foundation on which to build the business. We’re thrilled to be a disrupter in the insurance industry through our bespoke insurance solutions that support innovators in digital assets and the cannabis and hemp industries. The Bermuda Monetary Authority provides significant oversight for DABA licensees. These companies are required to go through a rigorous process to obtain their DABA license, and therefore the BMA indirectly becomes a part of our underwriting process.” Ty Sagalow, founding member of Lemonade Inc and independent non-executive director of Relm, said: “I am proud to be on the board of Relm as it steps up to offer relevant insurance products to emerging business sectors.” He added: “My experience with Lemonade has demonstrated just how ready the market is for new approaches to insurance, and I am confident that Relm’s focus on today’s emerging risks will ensure success for its brokers and insureds.”

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March 30

paragraphBermuda has recorded another five confirmed cases of Covid-19, taking its total to 27. Premier David Burt made the announcement in a press conference at the Cabinet Office this evening. The Government took in 30 additional test results today, with five positive and 25 negative. Three of the confirmed new cases were imported cases, and two of them had close contact with a previously confirmed case. All of the imported cases arrived on British Airways flights, on the 13th, 15th and 17th. Mr Burt said that of the island’s 27 total cases, two remained in hospital, 15 were “mostly at home with mild symptoms”, and ten have fully recovered. He said there were still no confirmed cases of local community transmission. Seventeen cases were imported, meaning they arrived by air, and eight were in close contact with infected people. Two cases remain under investigation. John Rankin, the Governor, said that an air bridge flight has been approved between the United Kingdom and the Overseas Territories. That flight is likely to happen early next week, offering stranded Bermudians a chance to come home. More to follow.

paragraphResidents were asked to help Bermuda “write its Covid story” yesterday before the island went into its first night of curfew. Premier David Burt said that everyone had a role to play in battling the coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the world. He explained: “We all must do our part. Public health depends on individual responsibility. In Bermuda, we will write our own Covid-19 story. We are the only people who will have a say on how this story unfolds.” Mr Burt added that if people abide by the 8pm to 6am curfew and follow public health guidelines about hand washing and social-distancing to minimise the chance of community spread, “we will all make a difference”. The curfew will be enforced by police officers and soldiers, with punishments of up to six months in jail, a fine of $2,880 or both. Bermuda has recorded 22 cases of Covid-19 so far. Of those, two were stable in hospital. Mr Burt said a further 35 people were tested over the weekend and that the results were expected today. He added that ten of the confirmed cases have fully recovered. The Premier said that the Bermuda Police Service received more than 300 applications for exemptions from the curfew, which were being processed.

He added: “I must state that most of the persons who submitted for exemptions will likely not receive them, because this is a preview of what is to come if the country does not adopt the strict social-distancing measures, which are needed to ensure that we do not have an outbreak of Covid-19 in Bermuda.” The Premier said that anyone without an exemption must be off the streets during curfew hours. He explained: “This means that you cannot drive around in your car, you cannot go for a walk, you cannot dash to the gas station and this means that everyone in Bermuda must be in their homes.” Mr Burt said that after 6am, people could resume “limited movement”, which included exercise, running and walking, but could gather in groups of no more than ten. He said: “The decision to put in a curfew was not arrived at lightly. However, we only have to turn on our TVs, or look online to see how the coronavirus has impacted other countries and how healthcare systems around the world are being overrun, which is leading to misery and death. We do not want that here in Bermuda and we all have our part to play in flattening the curve and limiting the number of persons that contract this virus, at any one time.” Mr Burt added that a “delicate balance” had to be struck between a level of operation in the country and restrictions to minimise community spread.

The Premier said that the extent of the limitations would depend on data received from the island’s testing regime. He explained: “At this point in time, there is no evidence of community transmission, but if there is evidence of community transmission, the advice that is given to all persons is that you have to take a tougher approach. That is why we’re being very aggressive in our testing, very aggressive in making sure that we can contact trace and ensure that we have any type of outbreak contained. But if we have an instance where we have an uncontrolled outbreak, there will be stricter measures that are taken. I want to do everything possible to avoid that and that’s why I’m asking for the co-operation of all residents, to make sure that we do not get to that particular place.” The Premier said that he hoped to provide more information today about two confirmed cases of Covid-19, which were listed on the Government’s website as “under investigation”. He explained that the two people had been under investigation since March 26 and 27, after first showing symptoms on March 17 and March 21, respectively. Although he was unable to provide age ranges for all 22 cases, Mr Burt said that the age range of the first 15 people affected was from 18 to 69. Mr Burt said that his government was trying to accommodate the needs of people as they adapted their routines and that a childcare service for the children of essential workers was expected to be launched this week. 

Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell said that a police employee was among the people who had tested positive for the coronavirus. Responding to a question from TNN, he said: “I can confirm that one of our staff did come down, has been diagnosed with Covid-19, he’s obviously signed off.” Mr Cardwell added that the police station where the individual worked was “completely disinfected”. A BPS spokesman explained later that the officer went on leave and his last working day was March 11. The officer showed no symptoms until 15 days later, when he was diagnosed. He added: “Bermuda Police Service observes the Covid-19 protocols and safeguards as outlined by the Bermuda Government.”

paragraphAn island-wide curfew got off to a “heart-warming” start, the Minister of National Security said last night. Wayne Caines, who patrolled the island with soldiers of the Royal Bermuda Regiment, said that residents were adhering to the lockdown without problem. Mr Caines was speaking to The Royal Gazette last night, several hours before reports of a break-in at the Coconut Rock restaurant on Reid Street. He said at that time: “It is heart-warming to see that the streets are indeed quiet and that everyone seems to be respecting the curfew.” Premier David Burt notified Bermuda of the countrywide curfew from 8pm to 6am last Friday after he revealed that the number of people who tested positive for Covid-19 had risen to 17. Since then, the figure has grown to 22. Mr Burt added it would be a “rolling curfew”, which can be imposed for up to three days at a time.

Curfew breakers will face up to six months in jail, a fine of $2,880 or both. Uniformed and medical services and other essential services are exempt, as well as anyone en route to the hospital or for medical treatment. Mr Caines said that Berkeley Institute had housed three “vulnerable people” last night and was prepared to house as many as 40 persons. He said that the facility had the help of mental health nurses, security and care workers from the Department of Child and Family Services alongside medical practitioners. “We’re just setting up an environment where people know if we have vulnerable people in our society they can be housed and taken case of there.” Mr Caines stressed the importance of social distancing for the sake of public health. He added: “In order for our country to be safe we have to stay at home and sometimes we do not understand that what we’re trying to do is prevent community spread that allows that. This is an opportunity for us to understand that, as a country, we have to come together and that the best thing we can do at this particular moment is stay indoors.” The Royal Gazette has requested information from police on how the curfew was observed.

paragraphPolice made several arrests this morning after burglars raided a Hamilton restaurant. A police spokesman said that at 5.15am it was discovered that someone had broken into Coconut Rock on Reid Street — 45 minutes before the first night of Bermuda’s Covid-19 curfew was due to end. He said: “Enquiries were made and it was discovered that culprits had forced entry in to the premises. It is unknown exactly what had been taken. “The investigation led police officers to Queen Elizabeth Park in the City of Hamilton where a number of persons were arrested as well as items relating to the burglary were recovered. The suspects remain in police custody whilst the enquiries in to this crime continues.” One of the glass doors to the restaurant was boarded up this afternoon. Management at Coconut Rock declined to comment on the break-in.

paragraphPolice officers have stopped wearing ties due to concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus. A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said the move would happen “for the foreseeable future”. He said: “While no clinical studies have demonstrated cross transmission of bugs via neckties, they have in some instances been found to be contaminated by potentially pathogenic bacteria. Despite the evidence being inconclusive, the BPS has taken the decision, out of an abundance of caution, to remove neckties as part of officers’ uniform during this period of uncertainty.”

paragraphOne of Bermuda’s leading insurance industry bodies has praised the “decisive and compassionate actions” of the Government under the leadership of David Burt, during the Covid-19 pandemic. It has also donated from its contingency fund to the Bermuda Hospitals Board and to charities helping families during the current health emergency. In a letter to the Premier, the Bermuda International Long Term Insurers and Reinsurers’ executive director Ronald Klein, on Friday, said: “The Biltir board is extremely impressed with the leadership and compassion shown by the Bermuda Government under your leadership during these trying times. Biltir members support your actions and have been complying with the spirit and letter of Government recommendations and requirements. “During an emergency meeting earlier today, the Biltir board agreed to donate a very large percentage of its contingency reserve to the Bermuda Hospitals Board and local charities with the goal of helping families through these tough times. Life insurers and reinsurers protect against the financial hardships caused by premature death, disability and outliving one’s retirement assets. It is at exactly times like these when life insurance becomes important. We support our millions of respective policyholders and now we would like to support the families in our local community. Biltir looks forward to working with the Bermuda Government at its highest levels and helping in any way possible to mitigate the health and financial anguish caused by this pandemic.”

The letter was referenced by Mr Burt during his address to the nation on Friday. The organisation’s board said it hoped that its members, policyholders and the entire Bermuda community are healthy and safe, and that “if any are ill, we wish them a speedy recovery”. In a statement it said: “It is during times like these when the importance of life insurance is highlighted. Life insurers and reinsurers protect families from the financial consequences of premature death or disability. Biltir members continue to serve their policyholders and clients well during these difficult times by ensuring members’ businesses remain strong.” To support its members companies, the association said it will work the Bermuda Monetary Authority and other Bermuda government agencies to safeguard their ability to conduct business during these difficult times. Biltir said: “The life insurance and reinsurance industries must remain resilient to robustly support policyholders, cedants and local employees. As such, Biltir requested that the insurance industry be deemed as an essential service, and government has agreed to this request. “In times like this, associations can be seen like family, who comfort and help each other. Biltir members should contact their board of directors or executive director with any question or issues, and Biltir will seek to assist members wherever possible. The strong collaborative relationships Biltir has forged, both within its membership and with the Bermuda’s government and regulator, can provide support to each other in times of need.” It added that Biltir members are urged to continue to follow the Government’s guidelines and to keep in close contact with Biltir.

paragraphThe Bermuda Captive Conference has been rescheduled to a later date due to the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Originally slated to be held in June, the annual conference will now be held from September 9 to 11 at the Fairmont Southampton, organisers said. A post on the group’s Facebook page said: “The safety and the wellbeing of everyone who attends the event is paramount and with this unprecedented situation unfolding, our thoughts are with you all at this time. We look forward to welcoming our sponsors and attendees to a successful and safe gathering in September. Stay safe everyone.” The early-bird registration deadline has been extended to August 31. The event’s partner hotel, Fairmont Southampton, has revised its room rates to $299 per person for conference guests, organisers said. The event attracts hundreds of delegates to the world’s top global captive jurisdiction, including captive insurance owners, risk managers, captive managers, sponsors, and vendors.

paragraphHow Bermudians abroad are coping.  After missing the last flight out of Luanda, Quinton DeShield has hunkered down in Angola’s capital city. He moved there in January to set up his company, GFox Solutions. Two months later, flights in and out of the African nation were suspended; so far the country has recorded four cases of Covid-19. “Things have moved very fast as British citizens were given about 24 hours to leave the country, which did not give me enough time to take up the notice,” Mr DeShield said. It is part of the firm stance Angola has taken on the crisis. Planes that arrived after the ban were boarded, passengers’ passports were removed and they were taken to quarantine. “This type of intervention would probably not be accepted in a fully democratic country that I am used to, but I am very glad of their decision,” Mr DeShield said. “With the oil prices falling, most foreign workers had their jobs stopped as it was not viable to continue working. With prices so low, this would have a major effect on the country and make it very difficult for the Government to mirror what has been happening in developed economies.” The knock-on effect is that, with the foreigners gone, the shops are full of goods because the average Angolan cannot afford them. Many do not even have the means to wash their hands properly — the first step in avoiding Covid-19. “With no real water or sanitary systems in place, the death toll in Africa will be very large,” Mr DeShield said. “We have to travel in very packed public transport, roads are poor, so emergency vehicles would not be able to get to patients, and more people would rather catch the virus than die of hunger, which kills more children here than disease.” However, he said that the citizens were used to obeying the word of the Government. If they are told to stay indoors, most will.

Catherine Zuill and her spouse, Michelle, had been planning to go on holiday to celebrate their 1st anniversary on April 6. As the number of people in Australia with Covid-19 rose to more than 2,800, the Sydney couple decided to change their plans. “We’ve been together for 16 years, but got married when Australia legalized same-sex marriage,” Ms Zuill said. “If we had decided to get married this year, we would have had to call it off, as Australia is only allowing five people to attend a wedding.” Instead of going up the coast to Byron Bay for a week, they plan to connect virtually with friends and family on Friday. “We are going to use an app to connect with my sons and our friends and have a virtual catch up,” Ms Zuill said. “That will help us get through this, plus a cocktail won’t go astray.” She said that it was amazing to consider that a month ago Australia had only 19 cases of Covid-19. The Government has decreed that people can only go out for food or exercise. All but essential services have been shut down. “We are not allowed to leave the country and other states have shut their borders to us because New South Wales has so many cases,” Ms Zuill said. “The Government has taken extreme measures to prevent this virus from spreading and to ensure that our health system is not overwhelmed. I am personally glad they are doing this. We don’t want Australia to go down the path of Italy or Spain where the health system has all but collapsed and many people, especially the elderly, are dying.” She has realised that she was taking a lot of simple things for granted in life ­— being able to go to the gym, getting a haircut, meeting with friends. “We are trying to apply some structure to our day at home so that it mirrors what we were doing before from a work point of view.” Ms Zuill said not seeing her family and friends was hard. To cope, she is eating her way through a stash of mini Easter eggs.

Elizabeth Tee had to make 13 trips before she was able to find toilet paper in her grocery store in London. So she considered it a major triumph that she was able to snag the last package of sanitising wipes last week. “And I only got that because the shop girl put a package back,” she said. “Everything else was gone.” The mood in Kensington, her neighborhood for the past year, is somber. Nearby Cromwell Road, normally a busy thoroughfare bringing people into London from the west, is now virtually empty. “I am taking everything day by day,” she said. “It is really about getting used to a new way of life.” She stays in most of the time, reading, chatting with friends on the phone and taking virtual yoga lessons. Once a day, she walks her dogs in nearby Hyde Park. “I see a few people on the street who are also walking their dogs,” she said. “It is important, anyway, for everyone to exercise.” People in Britain are only tested for Covid-19 if they are admitted to hospital. Two of her friends have had it. “One had it really badly last week,” she said. “She was in bed for seven days with a fever and a cough. She was very lethargic and slept all the time. She was one of the ones that have not been counted. “There are thousands of people who have coronavirus who are not even being counted in the numbers. They estimate that half of the population in the United Kingdom has coronavirus. That is 25 million people. But the Government has only ordered 3.5 million test kits. They are not even available to consumers right now. “Hopefully, next week they will be, in some form. But that is only a fraction of what we need, unfortunately. The resources are so limited.” Despite the grim statistics, she does not believe the UK should have shut down any sooner than it did. On March 23, only days before it was announced that he had coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the public to stay indoors except when shopping for basic necessities, exercising, for medical reasons or work. Bars and restaurants were shuttered three days earlier. “It is such a psychological shift in how we live our life, that I think it was good that the Government staggered the changes and the restrictions,” Ms Tee said. “The way we are living today, if I was told to start living like this all of a sudden, two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have taken the directions seriously. I think by staggering those decisions it allowed us about a week to get on board and understand the severity of this virus. I think the way they handled it was actually good. I think we continued to see the number of cases and the number of deaths rise. That made it more real.”

Italy resident Derek Mitchell is frustrated waiting for things to get better there. He moved to the Marcher region nine years ago and lives in a hilltop town, Pena San Giovanni. The country has so far had 86,498 cases of Covid-19. Of the more than 9,000 deaths recorded, 900 occurred on Friday. “It doesn’t seem to be getting any worse, more like the previous upward trajectory has been stopped, but we have not yet seen numbers start to drop as yet,” Mr Mitchell said. “Hopefully the efforts of the last two weeks of lockdown will start to show some benefit soon. There are not so much in our area, but I believe that there are more restrictions further north where the coronavirus has hit much harder. What has apparently increased, however, are the penalties for disregarding the restrictions.” Italians face fines of $215 for going out without a valid reason, such as to the pharmacy or supermarket.

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March 29, Sunday

paragraphThe chief of staff of Bermuda Hospitals Board said today that the community was the “first line of defence” against Covid-19, as he urged citizens to help stop the spread of the disease. Michael Richmond told The Royal Gazette that a supply of N95 respirator masks and procedure masks had arrived this week for frontline healthcare workers and that more personal protective equipment was on order. But he said global demand for such supplies was creating a worldwide shortage and had led to revised arrival times for the equipment. Dr Richmond said: “We are doing all we can to secure all we need to manage a surge, and we have some capacity right now, but whether we have enough depends on how big a potential surge is, and how long it lasts, and whether our shipments continue to arrive on time. This is why we have to stress and stress again that the first line of defence is the community to stop the spread by staying at home, washing hands, not touching eyes, nose and mouth, and covering coughs.” BHB began ordering equipment, supplies and extra medicine in early February as the potential impact of the coronavirus pandemic was reviewed by health chiefs on the island. The Ministry of Health also orders equipment and the two entities coordinate and share resources. Last week, the health ministry said it had received supplies of protective equipment which did not include the N95 respirators, which fit tightly around the face and are capable of filtering 95 per cent of airborne particles. The ministry shipment contained 100 cases of isolation gowns, three cases of aprons, 30 pairs of goggles, 600 digital thermometers, six thermometer scanners and 10,000 two-ounce containers of hand sanitiser. David Burt, the Premier, told a press conference on Friday that shipment of equipment from China was expected to arrive this Thursday (April 2). Dr Richmond, who attends the Covid-19 Emergency Measures Organisation, said: “We are very happy that a shipment of masks came in this week, and that more protective equipment is on order and hoped to arrive in the coming weeks. “However, the global shortage has already led to revised arrival times so we are acutely aware that any supplies we have today are incredibly precious and must be preserved for frontline workers who are caring directly for and are most at risk from potential Covid-19 patients. We have supplies of gloves and gowns available, and PAPR hoods, but again, we must treat these with great care.” Bermuda has 22 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

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March 28

paragraphBermuda recorded five more cases of Covid-19 today, taking the total on the island to 22. David Burt said that three of the new positive cases were imported, and the other two had close contact with a confirmed case. The Premier said that 36 test results were received in total today, and that 31 of them were negative. One of the confirmed cases arrived in Bermuda on the British Airways flight BA2233 on March 15; another on flight BA2233 on March 18; the third was on BA2233 on March 20. Mr Burt said: “As Bermudians, we must do everything in our power to stop the spread of Covid-19 in our community. When the curfew comes into effect tomorrow evening at 8pm, I am urging every person in Bermuda to stay in your home. Only if you are on the exemption list will you be allowed to move around the island. The steps we are taking as a Government is to ensure the health of each person who lives here. You have the ability to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by washing your hands, staying six feet away from other people and encouraging others to follow all the guidelines that have been put in place. You are the person who will make the difference.” The Government issued the following advice to people who were on the British Airways flights where cases were confirmed today:

Anyone who feels fine and has no symptoms should remain in their house and continue to observe the self-quarantine guidelines. People with respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or even a mild fever, should contact their doctor, explain that they were on one of the mentioned British Airways flights and that they would like medical guidance. Do not go to the doctor’s office or the hospital. Call ahead. Two confirmed Covid-19 patients remain in a stable condition in hospital. Mr Burt will provide another update tomorrow.

paragraphA countrywide curfew from 8pm to 6am will be imposed from tomorrow, the Premier announced last night. David Burt added it would be a “rolling curfew”, which can be imposed for up to three days at a time. Curfew breakers will face up to six months in jail, a fine of $2,880 or both, but Mr Burt said that anyone en route to the hospital or for medical treatment would be “fine”. Mr Burt announced the new restriction after he revealed that two more people had tested positive for Covid-19, which brought the total number of cases to 17. Mr Burt said that one of the new cases arrived on Delta Air Lines flight 656 from Atlanta on March 15. The source for the second case is still being investigated. Mr Burt said that emergency and uniformed services would also be exempted from the curfew. He added: “I know these changes will be an adjustment to how we live and work, but we only need to look across the water to see how important it is that we act, and act now, to save lives in this country.” 

He said that during non-curfew hours people should “stay off the roads and at home” except for essential trips for food and medicine. Mr Burt said that all rest home visits were suspended, except where approved by the homes involved. Hospital visits have also been suspended, unless permitted by the hospitals board. Mr Burt added that essential services would operate with “skeleton crews” and that recommended social-distancing had been upped to six feet from three feet. Mr Burt said that 400 more test kits were to be shipped from the United States on Monday and “should” arrive by Tuesday. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, added that the Government was exploring “a number of avenues” to get more testing equipment. She said: “Notwithstanding that we’re getting these 400, we’ve already requested more, and we’re going to continue to do that. This by no means will be the end of the tests that we receive.” Mr Burt said that “numerous promises” had been made by Public Health England to provide protective equipment for medical staff and test kits. However, he added: “There has been nothing that has resulted from those particular pledges. We wait to see what assistance they may render at some point in time.” Mr Burt said that additional protective equipment was due to arrive from China on April 2. He added that regulations to force businesses to allow employees to work from home if possible would take effect on Tuesday. Mr Burt said the Government would also introduce an anonymous online route for people pressured to go into their jobs instead of working from home. 

He added that staff at the Department of Immigration were not at work and that no applications were being taken or processed. Mr Burt said: “Visitors who require an extension of stay in Bermuda will not be penalized for overstaying.” He added that more instructions for people who needed to apply for an extension of stay would be given when the office reopened. He added that the Hamilton docks are operating as normal. Mr Burt said that cargo jet arrivals would decrease from five days a week to three days a week from March 30. He added that courier firm DHL would operate two extra flights “which means that Bermuda will still have five days a week of air cargo service”. The Department of Public Transportation will provide daily transport for hospital staff, enough to cover five shifts, while buses and ferry services remain offline. The DPT service for hospital staff will start tomorrow and last until normal transport services are resumed. Mr Burt said that about 1,100 applications had been received for unemployment assistance by noon yesterday and that approved applications would be processed for payment from next week. He emphasised that the Government would not shut down “anything” without notice, after a hoax voice message about supermarket closures was posted on social media yesterday. Mr Burt said: “The Government of Bermuda is not going to take actions which are going to cause members of our community to starve.” He added the public should follow updates on the Government website and ignore dubious online messages. Mr Burt said that Bermuda’s battle against Covid-19 was “a marathon, not a sprint”. He added: “I think some people have this impression that we can shut everything down in the country down for three weeks and we will be fine.” However. he warned: “This is something that is going to adjust the way of our lives.”

paragraphA fresh supply of equipment to protect healthcare workers during the coronavirus crisis has arrived — but it did not include N95 respirators. However, David Burt, the Premier, said yesterday that shipment of equipment from China was expected to arrive next Thursday. The N95 respirators give medical staff a higher degree of protection against infection than loose-fitting surgical masks as they filter out the majority of small airborne particles if well sealed against the user’s face. A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said on March 13 that the Government had secured a supply of the respirators, but there has been no update on their expected arrival date. The ministry said the latest shipment to land included 100 cases of isolation gowns, three cases of aprons and 30 pairs of goggles. It also had 600 digital thermometers, six thermometer scanners and 10,000 two-ounce containers of hand sanitiser. 

Bermuda now has 17 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including two hospitalizations. A ministry spokeswoman said yesterday that the new shipment would be “distributed as needed, starting with our healthcare providers and vulnerable populations”. Extra supplies of surgical masks for adults and children, gloves, disinfectant wipes, and sterile head covers have also been ordered, but have not yet arrived. Mr Burt said that although there had been “numerous promises” made by the UK to provide equipment, “there has been nothing that has resulted from those particular pledges”. He added that Ministry of Health had been “incredibly resourceful” in its efforts to track down vital supplies. Mr Burt said that the cargo plane from China was expected to bring personal protection equipment, masks and other medical supplies. The Government did not respond last night after it was asked if the Chinese delivery included respirators. A health ministry spokeswoman said on March 13 that the “vast majority” of items secured at that time were expected to arrive from the US and Canada in the next 14 days. She added: “The N95 masks are in production and then they will be shipped subsequently.” 

N95 respirators are certified to block at least 95 per cent of very small test particles. The World Health Organisation warned earlier this month there was a global shortage, as well as price gouging, for protective equipment to fight Covid-19. The WHO asked companies and governments worldwide to increase production by 40 per cent as the worldwide Covid-19 death toll mounted. The Bermuda Hospitals Board at the weekend detailed measures available to protect staff at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. A spokeswoman said there were nine negative pressure rooms in the acute care wing that stopped air flow out and several high-efficiency particulate air filters — Hepa — that could be stationed in the rooms of infectious patients. 

She added: “The fifth floor of the acute care wing has a separate air-filtration system that isolates it from the rest of the building. “Staff who have to go in patient rooms, doctors, nurses, housekeeping, have personal protective equipment and current WHO and Centres for Disease Control guidelines which we are following advise that in general care surgical masks, eye protection, gowns and gloves should be used.” The spokeswoman said a higher level of protection was used for procedures in the throat, called aerosolizing procedures. She explained the hospital used powered air-purifying respirators — PAPR — which covered “the whole head and has its own filtered air supply, or an N95 mask, gowns and gloves” in these cases. The spokeswoman said: “There has been advanced training throughout February and March for staff who have to go in patient rooms. About 200 training and education sessions have been undertaken.” She added the hospital had also changed its operations to protect patients and staff. People must now phone first rather than turn up at the emergency department and outpatients have to call before regular appointments to check for risk factors and potential symptoms. The lab and imaging diagnostics units now have appointment-only systems, rather than walk-ins.

paragraphA total of nine people have failed to stick to self-quarantine rules imposed to cut spread of Covid-19, the national security minister said today. Wayne Caines added that police had visited 140 homes over the past three days to check on people in self-quarantine and that two people were not at home on Thursday, three were out yesterday and four were not at home today. Mr Caines said: “These matters are still under live investigation.” Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley said that the nine people would now go through the judicial process. Mr Caines added 2,926 roadside stops had been carried over the six days from last Monday, and that the numbers had fallen from 1,106 or Monday to 138 by 5.30pm today. “None of the community checkpoints identified any persons who are under quarantine.” Mr Caines said that 25 people were quarantined in hotels and 1,465 people were in quarantine at home. They were speaking just before an island-wide curfew from 8pm to 6am comes in to force tomorrow. Mr Caines said that police officers and soldiers would be out to enforce the lockdown. He added: “Any person found to be contravening the curfew will be arrested.” Curfew breakers will face up to six months in jail, a fine of $2,880 or both. Mr Caines said that uniformed and emergency services were exempt from the curfew. These included police officers, Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service members, Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers, Customs officers, Department of Immigration workers and prison staff. He added that other exemptions included David Burt, the Premier, members of Cabinet, the Cabinet Secretary, the head of the public service and permanent secretaries, Government House staff, and Supreme Court and Magistrates’ Court judges. Medical workers, dock workers, Department of Child and Family Services staff, staff at power firm Belco, staff at telecoms Digicel and One Communications, as well as members of the media, are also exempt. 

Mr Caines said that exempted people must carry with them a valid driver’s licence or valid employment ID.He added that people who worked in a critical service not identified on his list should submit a form on the Government’s website at forms.gov.bm/covid-19/curfew. Mr Caines said that everyone else “should be at home. We are giving enough notice that everyone should be in their home by 8pm tomorrow evening.” Mr Corbishley said that people caught out and about would have their details taken by police and passed on to the Director of Public Prosecutions. He added: “We are not seeking to criminalise people — but there is a line in the sand. The officers will be professional and courteous but, if people choose to breach, they are liable to fines, they are liable to arrests and indeed they are liable to imprisonment. We need our communities to work with us.” Mr Caines said that nine workers at Westgate Prison were sick and one member of staff at the Department of Corrections headquarters was under self-quarantine after travel to the United States. An officer at the Prison Farm is also off sick and under self-quarantine after showing “signs of coughing”. Mr Caines said that two staff members were sick at the Co-ed Facility. He added that all the staff absences were “justified”. Mr Caines said that the protection of vulnerable people was of “paramount importance”. He highlighted a number of organisations, including the Salvation Army, the Eliza DoLittle Society, and Meals on Wheels, along with several churches, who had stepped up to provide food, shelter and shower facilities. Mr Caines said: “Specifically as it relates to the Salvation Army, they are providing services for our homeless population, at Harbour Light and the Berkeley Gymnasium. Additionally Focus Counselling has four beds for those who need assistance.” He added that the organisations would start to accept people from 7pm tomorrow. Anyone interested in helping the Salvation Army should call 296-6740 or 704-7673.

paragraphThe Premier warned against “panic activity” yesterday after false claims that supermarkets could be closed as part of the battle against Covid-19. David Burt recorded a message to plead with the public not to listen to rumors. He told the public: “I know that there are a lot of voice notes that are currently circulating, which are saying that the Government is going to close grocery stores, is going to close pharmacies, the island’s going to be on lockdown and if you don’t run to the store today, you’re not going to have anything. This is not true. Let me repeat, this is not true! Please do not engage in panic activity, it is not helpful at all. Please make sure that you follow official notifications from the Government of Bermuda.” Mr Burt said people should visit the Government’s coronavirus webpage for the latest information on the coronavirus crisis. He added: “Please do not listen to voice notes that are not substantiated. This is not the way that Bermuda is going to get through this pandemic. We’re going to get through this with unity, following correct and proper information and that correct and proper information will come from the Government.” Mr Burt said: “Everyone please be safe, remain calm, wash your hands, keep your social-distancing, make sure that you’re following all the things which we’ve laid out and Bermuda will be just fine.”

Queues were seen outside grocery stores yesterday including The Supermart on Front Street, A1-Smith’s at Collector’s Hill and MarketPlace in Hamilton’s Church Street. The Government earlier “condemned and refuted” closure claims. A spokeswoman said: “The deliberate creation and spreading of false information is unacceptable and is creating a tremendous strain on resources already stretched in managing the Covid-19 pandemic. Where possible, such behaviour will be reported to the police with a view to properly investigating and, if permissible prosecuting, any offences committed. The Government is committed to preventing the community spread of Covid-19 and with providing the public with accurate factual information. Despite this, there are those in our community who spread rumors and misinformation without any compassion for their fellow Bermudians and for the panic that these rumors could create.” The spokeswoman said that accurate information could be found on the Government’s coronavirus.gov.bm website. She added that official government social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube also provided updates. A Government WhatsApp account can be accessed at https://wa.me/14415046045 or at 504-6045. People should text “Hi” to start a chat and receive messages. The Government warned the public: “At this time, all of us must do our part to stay calm and maintain social cohesion. Do not create or forward misinformation and only use reliable sources of information to keep abreast of the latest developments around Covid-19.”

paragraphPolice officers attended two private clubs today but found no evidence of Covid-19 regulation breaches, the Commissioner of Police said tonight. Stephen Corbishley said officers got an anonymous tip off that the Mid Ocean Club in Hamilton Parish was open, including the bar and clubhouse. He added that the tipster also claimed that people who should be in lockdown at home were out on the course. Mr Corbishley said that it was confirmed that the club was closed but that members were playing golf. He added: “We went there, we engaged with people, we checked that there were no parties that were subject to quarantine playing, we saw that social distancing was in place, and we advised people accordingly.” Mr Corbishley said that he had spoken to two Mid Ocean board members and that a letter had been sent out to club members about the strict rules imposed to combat the spread of the coronavirus. He added that police officers had also been to Tucker’s Point Golf Club in St George’s and spoken to its members. Mr Corbishley said: “These are the kind of things that the service is going to be doing over the next few weeks. We’re not trying to challenge people’s civil liberties, we’re actually saying that they need to comply with health directions.” He added that the “vast feedback” that police had been given indicated that the rules were being followed.

paragraphThe stalled Caroline Bay resort development is to go back to the drawing board with “expert restructuring advisers”, the finance minister said yesterday. Curtis Dickinson added the project would be assessed by Alvarez and Marsal, a New York firm with “significant experience” in reviving large projects. Mr Dickinson said the company’s staff were “experts in the real estate space and restructuring space”. He was speaking after the Government’s announcement on Thursday that it would take legal action in a bid to have provisional liquidators appointed for the troubled development. Mr Dickinson said the provisional liquidators, from professional services firm EY, were also experienced in hospitality properties, including the Newstead and Tucker’s Point resorts. Mr Dickinson added the next step was to shore up the partly completed buildings at the West End development to protect them from deterioration. He said he was “disappointed that the developers failed, in what was the largest Bermuda Government-backed hospitality project”. He added: “This could have been and should have been avoided.”

Mr Dickinson said the future of the project could include “design construction plans” to allow the Government to “complete the buildings and have them in working order”. He declined to speculate on whether the development would remain a resort or get changed to housing. The original developers included Brian Duperreault, the chief executive of insurance giant AIG and one of the island’s most prominent business figures. Mr Dickinson also declined to comment on whether the developers had tried to bail Caroline Bay out with their own funds. He said: “How much money they’ve put in, and why they are unable to fund additional amounts personally, is a question they are in the best position to answer.” Mr Duperreault did not respond to a request for comment yesterday. The hotel and luxury home complex would have transformed the brownfield site left at the old US Naval Annex at Morgan’s Point. The deal was sweetened with a $165 million government guarantee agreed under the previous One Bermuda Alliance administration. The guarantee had to be paid to lenders last year after the development hit finance problems. Mr Dickinson said extra funding was being drawn from the Government’s $200 million credit line with Butterfield Bank and HSBC Bermuda, set up last year to pay off lenders. He added further borrowing would have to be done through “a new special purpose vehicle, backed by the assets of the project itself” — leaving the option of seeking further investors — “if deemed appropriate”. 

Mr Dickinson said Caroline Bay’s backers had made several proposals in an attempt to salvage the project over the two years since they said they were unable to meet their debts. He added: “Without exception, each proposal would have put the Bermuda Government in a far worse position than it is in today.” Mr Dickinson said new borrowing based on “speculative plans” would have likely led to further default, with the new lender having first call on the assets at present claimed by the Government. Mr Dickinson said that would “leave the people of Bermuda with nothing”. He added that all the proposals were also based on Government continuation of its $165 million guarantee — or increasing it to $185 million. Mr Dickinson said: “They are also based on the payment of transaction fees to the developers, or parties related to them, in the range of $12.5 to $17.5 million, and repayment of loans, or interest payments on loans, to other lenders who were not part of the Bermuda government guarantee.” He added one proposal would have transferred the debt held by the Government to a new investor, who would have retained a priority claim on the project’s assets. Mr Dickinson said the Government’s actions on Thursday were “an effort to mitigate the worst-case outcome” of the Government losing its money. About $11 million was paid in December and January to subcontractors at the site who had now “by and large been paid”. Mr Dickinson added: “The buildings that have been partially constructed, we need to finish them first. Our chances of recovery of all of our money are reduced, inasmuch as there is incomplete construction.”

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March 27

paragraphThe number of Covid-19 cases has more than doubled to 15, the Premier announced last night. David Burt said that eight more people had tested positive for coronavirus on top of the seven already detected. He added the news was “alarming” but “not unexpected”. Mr Burt said: “What is important is that we recognise all of what has been laid out. Nothing changes. We must make sure to follow the precautions that have been laid out.” He said the jump in the number of cases was not a reason for panic. Mr Burt added: “What we have to do is recognise that if we do not all do our part together, we will be challenged.” Mr Burt said the new Covid-19 cases demanded a “stricter approach” to combat community spread of the coronavirus. He added that the Cabinet would meet today. Mr Burt said: “It is important for the people of Bermuda to recognise that this is no ordinary time and ordinary approaches will not work. Measures will include further restrictions on movement around the island and possible further ordered business closures.” He said three of the new cases were the result of “limited local transmission”. Mr Burt explained: “That means contact with known travellers or contact with those who have already been confirmed positive.” 

Mr Burt said that the cause of one of the new cases had “yet to be determined”. He added that four of the new cases came in on British Airways flights — two on March 15, and one each on March 17 and March 20. The self-monitoring period for people on the March 15 flight will end on Sunday, the self-monitoring period for people on the March 17 flight will end on Tuesday, and the self-monitoring period for passengers on the March 20 flight will end on April 3. Mr Burt said that anyone with Covid-19 symptoms should contact their doctor for advice. He added that Bermuda would continue its “aggressive testing schedule, as this is the only way we will contain this particular virus”. Mr Burt said that the Government was “constantly” working to increase Bermuda’s ability to test for the virus. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, added that Bermuda had about 40 test kits in stock. She said: “We do anticipate further tests being on island next week, which were ordered several weeks ago.” Ms Wilson was unable to confirm when the extra test kits would arrive, but that the shipment would include “several hundred” of them. She said: “I think it’s like 850.” Ms Wilson could not say how many tests would be carried out over the weekend. Mr Burt added that problems with companies that had not allowed employees to work from home continued. He said: “In certain cases, whole offices have been ordered to work under the threat of losing jobs.” 

Mr Burt added: “I consider these actions to be a direct affront to the public health threat that this pandemic presents and for Bermudian companies to have the cavalier attitudes that these employers have demonstrated — putting profits above people — is not acceptable.” He said that the Cabinet would consider “significant penalties” for companies who failed to let staff work from home. Mr Burt said that police officers and the Royal Bermuda Regiment had started spot checks on people under self-quarantine orders at home. He added: “This is an important and necessary step to ensure the health of not just those in quarantine, but everyone in Bermuda.” Mr Burt said that it was not a time for people to be afraid. He added: “As your Premier, I am not frightened. I recognise that the public health team is doing what is necessary in order to make sure this particular epidemic can be contained.” However, Mr Burt said everyone should be vigilant and asked people to wash their hands, use social distancing and follow rules imposed by the Government. Mr Burt added: “If all of us in this country adopt a vigilant approach, if all of us become our brother’s and sister’s keepers ensuring that this approach is followed and maintained, we will be successful in containing the spread of Covid-19 in Bermuda. On that I have no doubt.”

paragraphA legal bid to put the assets of the stalled Caroline Bay resort project into the hands of provisional liquidators was launched yesterday, the Government revealed last night. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Finance said: “The developers acknowledged in February 2018 that they were unable to pay their debts and while the Government has done everything prudently possible to support efforts to refinance the project, to date the developers have failed to provide an acceptable way forward.” She added that senior members of professional services firm EY Bermuda had been appointed as joint provisional liquidators and it was planned that they would “take control of various project companies, representing the collateral behind the original project loans and Bermuda Government guarantees”. The spokeswoman said: “As the Government has expressed previously, the intention is to protect the interests of the people of Bermuda to the fullest extent permissible under the law.” Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, will hold a press conference today to reveal more details. The project, at the former US Naval Annex at Morgan’s Point in the West End, was backed with a $165 million government guarantee arranged under the previous One Bermuda Alliance administration, which had to be paid to lenders last year after finance for the development collapsed. The payout required Parliament to approve a $200 million line of credit for the Ministry of Finance and the island’s debt ceiling was raised by $250 million as a result. Work started on the 250-acre peninsula about four years after a land swap between the developers, which included Bermudian insurance industry legend Brian Duperreault, the CEO of AIG, and the Government.

The Southlands estate in Warwick was exchanged for Morgan’s Point, on condition remediation work at the brownfield site was carried out before construction started. The company behind the resort said that the site would include a Ritz-Carlton Reserve hotel, luxury homes and a marina capable of accommodating mega yachts, as well as a spa, restaurants and upmarket retail stores. The marina was opened in time for the 2017 America’s Cup, but construction work stalled in February 2018. The developers, George’s Bay Ltd, said that “first phase construction activity at Caroline Bay has been reduced ... due to construction costs outpacing the existing financing of the project”. The firm said it planned to extend financing so work could get back to normal as soon as possible. The Government, however, was later forced to pay back the project’s lenders after it received notices of default in June and August of last year. Mr Dickinson said in this year’s Budget statement that the Government maintained a “legitimate expectation” that it would recover the cash paid out to the resort’s creditors. He added that Bermudian construction firms left unpaid for their work were also compensated after the Government “purchased the claims from project contractors”.

paragraphA handful of American citizens caught a ride home to the United States last night after two flights brought in Bermudian residents and students stranded in the US by the coronavirus pandemic. The Bermuda Business Development Agency said it had teamed up with several companies to charter two flights from Atlanta “to enable a number of students, whose universities and colleges have shut down, and family members to return home”. Roland Andy Burrows, the chief executive of the BDA, added that people around the world were dealing with “uncertain and unsettling times” during the pandemic.

He said: “Our students in the US who haven’t been able to find a way home as their schools closed and airlines suspended international flights, faced even greater uncertainty, as did their families. Working together, we are pleased that we have been able to find a solution to get our students home to their loved ones during this time. We thank all of those involved for their help. One of Bermuda’s many great strengths is the resilience of her people and our ability to pull together as a community in times of difficulty.” Constance Dierman, the US Consul General, said it was “only a few people who were interested and able to travel on short notice”. She added: “The US Consulate is grateful for the efforts by the Bermuda Business Development Agency and members of the business sector who came together to make it possible for Bermudians, and Americans, to get home.”

The flights were chartered by Butterfield Bank, airport operators Skyport, Sol Petroleum and insurance firms Zurich and Freisenbruch Insurance Group. Travellers were required to self-isolate and monitor their health for 14 days. David Burt said last night that “many of them will be housed in quarantine facilities which have been offered by the Government of Bermuda”. The Premier added that travellers who arrived on future flights would not be allowed to self-quarantine. He said: “They will be required to be under their period of 14 days in a government-approved quarantine facility.”

paragraphA new relief fund will provide financial support to some hospitality workers left out of work by Covid-19 closures. Restaurant firm Yellowfin Group has set up a scheme to help tide over the group’s employees during the crisis. A post on Facebook said that 50 per cent of gift card sales for its restaurants and bars until the end of April would go to “supporting staff members who will be affected by this current crisis”. It added: “In the event that our team members will not need to draw from the fund, Yellowfin pledges that all monies raised will be paid out equally to every team member once the situation has stabilized.” The group runs the Port o’ Call, Pearl, Bistro J and Ruby Murry’s restaurants, as well as the Astwood Arms and Yours Truly bars, all in Hamilton. A study by PwC Bermuda last November estimated there were 2,752 hospitality workers in Bermuda. The Yellowfin post warned the sector was “at breaking point, with no immediate end in sight”. It appealed to the public: “The hospitality industry has been there for you, for your business dinners, birthdays, corporate and charity events. Our staff have been there for you through rain and shine, on weekends, public and bank holidays, helped you celebrate milestone events with your families and colleagues. Now you have a chance to help them.” 

No one from Yellowfin could be contacted yesterday. However, Ryan Gibbons, the bar manager at Barracuda Grill, part of Island Restaurant Group, said the fund was a “great idea”. He added: “I’m glad they’ve done it to help their staff and we at IRG have launched our own similar campaign.” Mr Gibbons said that the shutdown of the Island Restaurant Group’s five venues, apart from takeout services, had led to a “temporary mass layoff of staff just as other operators have had to do”. He added: “This is an enormous blow that has rattled hospitality services.” The 34-year-old has worked in the sector for the past 17 years and has won four Best of Bermuda bartender awards. Mr Gibbons said that many in the sector, as well as other customer-facing sectors, were “seriously concerned about being able to pay rent and provide for themselves”. He added that border closures had meant many work-permit holders were unable to return home over the layoff. Mr Gibbons said a pledge by Bermudian-based drinks giant Bacardi to provide $3 million to help workers in the bar and restaurant business and a financial safety net announced by the Government to provide up to $500 a week to people thrown out of work, combined with the hard work of private companies to stay afloat and the support of the public, was a good sign. He added: “It is that combined mighty effort that is a ray of positivity in these times of great uncertainty for those most affected.” To buy a gift card for any of the Yellowfin businesses, call 295-5373 or e-mail portocall@yellowfin.bm. The cards, which have no expiry date, can be picked up at the front desk of any of the group’s restaurants.

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March 26

paragraphA critical-care doctor is pleading with the public to help save lives by staying at home during the coronavirus crisis. Annie Pinto, of Bermuda Pain Services, in Paget, posted a video on social media this week with a heartfelt message. Dr Pinto said: “Let’s follow the example of some countries that have gone through this pandemic with higher survival rates. What did they do differently? They followed very strict isolation measurements. We don’t need a government to tell us this has to be mandatory. We have to use our common sense. Let’s stay six feet apart. Let’s wash our hands, stay home, don’t go out.” She added: “Stay at home. You don’t need to go anywhere else. Let us do our job and let’s save lives together. Let’s go, Bermuda.” Dr Pinto said people should imagine all the surfaces they touched were dirty and that everyone else was sick so they would keep their distance from others and wash their hands as much as possible. Dr Pinto, a pain specialist and anesthetist, said in the two-minute video that her surgery had cancelled non-urgent procedures, but she was available over the phone to patients. She added: “We are doing what we have to do. In the meantime, I am getting ready, as ready as I can be, and available for what we anticipate is going to be very difficult circumstances. I’ll be at the ICU at the hospital. The doctors of Bermuda, we are all getting ready. We are communicating, we are studying, we are preparing as much as we can prepare. But we cannot do this alone. We cannot save lives alone. The life-saving starts in the community.” 

The wife of another doctor also used social media this week to ask people to stay at home. Catherine West, a novelist, said she did not normally put public posts on her personal Facebook page, but it was necessary in the unusual circumstances. Mrs West posted a photograph of her husband Stephen, a pediatrician, on the site on Monday and a plea for the public to practise social-distancing. She wrote: “This is my husband. Today is his birthday. Today, he will not get birthday hugs and kisses. We will not celebrate with friends. He will be at work. He will continue to go to work. He will not hold our six-month-old granddaughter. He will not share our bed. He will go straight to a bathroom, change and shower after work before sharing space with his family.” Mrs West told the public: “If you think this is all a bit of a joke, that people are overreacting, that staying home is stupid, please speak with a medical professional. It is not a joke. For many of them, it is a matter of life and death. And that may be your life. Or theirs. Do my husband and the rest of us a favour. Stay home! And wish him a happy birthday from the couch!” 

The message from Mrs West, whose husband works at Wee Care Pediatrics on Elliott Street West in Hamilton, attracted more than 100 comments. She told The Royal Gazette: “I made the post because it’s vitally important that our community in Bermuda take the threat of Covid-19 seriously. We need to follow all the rules and guidelines that are being put in place right now for our safety. There is so much false information on social media, that this is ‘just the flu’, etc, and I have seen a few posts from Bermudians echoing some of the sentiments that many in other countries have expressed.” Mrs West said: “Being married to a medical professional, I have known about the serious nature of Covid-19 for quite some time and we knew it was a matter of time before it hit our shores. The only way we have any hope of getting ahead of the virus is by social distancing — staying home if you can.” She added she was “very happy” with how the Government had handled the crisis so far and praised David Burt, the Premier, and his team, as well as the police and Royal Bermuda Regiment. Mrs West said: “Our medical staff and hospital are small compared to other places and the last thing we want is to be overwhelmed and unable to cope with cases. I think it’s important to watch what’s happened in other countries and for everyone to be aware and do their part to ensure the best possible outcome for Bermuda. I think hearing from medical professionals, how this has changed their lives and how they run their practices, is important and will help people take this seriously.”

paragraphMore than 20 Bermudians are marooned on a cruise ship denied entry to a series of ports in the Southern Hemisphere because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The group is on board the Bermudian-registered cruise ship, Coral Princess, which was on a cruise from Santiago in Chile around South America and the Caribbean. Pamela Maybury, who works for island travel agents Travel Edge is a passenger on the ship. She said: “We were on the first leg, which would’ve been 14 days, finishing in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We got as far as the Falkland Islands and then couldn’t go into any more ports as they were denying us entry because of the virus.” The Coral Princess set sail from Santiago in Chile on March 5 for a 32-day cruise in the Latin American region, but is now steaming back to its final destination, Fort Lauderdale in Florida. The ship is owned by Princess Cruises, whose Diamond Princess ship was earlier quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, after hundreds came down with Covid-19. Ten had died by Tuesday. Mrs Maybury said she and other passengers on the Coral Princess had been tested for symptoms of the highly contagious coronavirus that causes Covid-19. All had come back clear. “We have had our temperature checked a few times and there’s nobody who has been sick on the ship at all at this point. Everybody has been very healthy, so that’s been our saving grace. Nobody has even had a cold. I think this is our safest place and the crew have taken good care of us.”

Mrs Maybury said all 22 Bermudian passengers on the ship were kept up to date on the Covid-19 crisis at home. She added: “Everybody in the group has been in contact with their families and jobs back home all day, every day, so everybody is on the same page. “People have been calling and sending e-mails, which we appreciate, but this is business as usual. We are on a cruise ship and people are enjoying themselves, so as far as we are concerned we are pretty safe and we’re happy.” Ms Maybury said: “Our concern will be when we get off the ship, as we know we have to be quarantined for 14 days. The reality will set in after we leave the ship, just wondering if you’re safe on your way to the airport and things like that.” There were, at first, 34 Bermudians on the Coral Princess. However, 12 of them managed to catch a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and travelled in a bus escorted by police after the ship was granted permission by local authorities to enter port. The rest missed another flight because of a delay in the return of the bus to the Coral Princess to pick up the remainder and had to return to the ship. Another attempt to offload passengers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was made, but it was unsuccessful. Ms Maybury said the passengers would have to remain on board until they reached Fort Lauderdale, where they will be transported to catch a flight back to Bermuda. She added: “The airport opens on April 6, so we will have to stay on the ship until we can get off and go directly to our flight. Our flight is actually on April 8, so we will probably be on the ship for another three or four days after we get to Fort Lauderdale, and then they will escort us to Miami Airport.”

The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the $45 billion-a-year cruise industry. Passengers on other ships have had their trips cancelled or altered and operators such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean International have warned that the crisis will have a serious effect on their business.

paragraphDuring the Covid-19 crisis, perfumer Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone is putting her skills to work helping the community. In the last week, the owner of Lili Bermuda, and her son William, have made more than 500 liters of hand sanitiser to donate to front-line workers. “I am making it for the Ministry of National Security and also grocery stores,” she said. Grocery stores will use it to help keep staff, customers and equipment germ free. On Wednesday, she had a visit from Dean Rubaine, national disaster risk reduction and mitigation analyst at the Ministry of National Security. “He brought containers for the hand sanitiser,” she said. “I put it in the containers for organisations to put in spray bottles. It is not something you put in a pump.” She wants to make sure the people who need it, get it. She doesn’t want to see her work put into storage. “We need this now,” she said. Her hand sanitiser is 70 per cent alcohol, the same level as hospital disinfectants. However, she said at that strength it’s a bit harsh on hands. “I am desperate for vitamin E or glycerin, some emollient I could add to it, so it is a little less difficult on the hands,” she said. “But it won’t hurt anyone.” And as much as she wants everything to smell like her Lili Bermuda perfumes, the hand sanitiser has no perfume in it. The hand sanitiser is not for individuals. She asked that people not come to her door looking for the stuff. “I don’t want to catch this thing,” she said. “So I work by myself.” She said the best way for individuals to stay healthy is to stay home and wash their hands. “When you live in isolation, you don’t need to spray your hands with hand sanitiser,” she said. “We have to be mindful of why we use things. It is duck-down time for everyone. Sanitiser is the second-best thing to washing your hands.” Earlier this month, she had to close her Lili Bermuda stores in Bermuda and Palm Beach, Florida due to the pandemic. Her online store is still open. She also had to let her seven staff members go. “That was devastating,” she said. “Some of them have been with me for 25 years. They were very dedicated people. I try to call them regularly to see how they are doing.” She plans to keep making the hand sanitiser until her supplies run out.

paragraphThree US state legislatures are considering legislation aimed at forcing insurers to cover pandemic-related business interruption losses — overriding exclusions in policies. Should such legislation be applied all over the US, the insurance industry would be faced with the “largest loss in its history” and widespread insurer insolvency, says insurance expert Robert Hartwig. With thousands of businesses around the world shuttered for indefinite periods as a result of national lockdowns related to the Covid-19 public health crisis, business interruption costs are mounting. State legislators in New Jersey, Ohio and Massachusetts have tabled Bills that would essentially alter contracts retroactively to force insurers to pay out in breach of the terms of their policies, Dr Hartwig told The Royal Gazette. “If that law were to become the law of the land, it would lead to complete and total collapse of the property insurance markets of the United States and many insolvencies,” Dr Hartwig said. Bermuda’s property and casualty re/insurers would be among those impacted. Standard business interruption policies have contained a virus or bacteria exclusion, for about 14 years after lessons learnt from the Sars outbreak, said Dr Hartwig, director, Centre for Risk and Uncertainty Management, at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. The vast majority of such policies state there must be “direct, physical loss or damage” of property to suspend business activity — fire, explosion, smoke or wind, for example. The Bill tabled in Massachusetts states that “no insurer in [Massachusetts] may deny a claim for the loss of use and occupancy and business interruption on account of (i) Covid-19 being a virus (even if the relevant insurance policy excludes losses resulting from viruses); or (ii) there being no physical damage to the property of the insured or to any other relevant property”

While the New Jersey and Ohio Bills would apply to insureds with up to 100 employees, the Massachusetts bill would apply to insureds with “150 or fewer full-time equivalent employees”. Insurers challenging such laws will have the US Constitution on their side, particularly the Obligation of Contracts clause in Article 1, which was designed to prevent states from interfering with private contracts. “No disaster goes unused by politicians,” Dr Hartwig said. “Even though they are passing legislation they know is unconstitutional, they can claim that they stood up to big, bad insurers.” He added that the exclusions meant insurers had not been paid for this risk: had they been, premiums charged would have been higher over the past decade and more. Oceana Grill in New Orleans, which lacked a virus exclusion, last week asked for a declaratory judgment about its all-risk insurance policy from underwriters at Lloyd’s of London, citing a civil authority order by Louisiana’s governor and actions by the city’s mayor to restrict gatherings at restaurants. Attorney John Houghtaling, who’s representing the restaurant, said he’s seeking to make it clear that virus-related mandatory shutdowns should trigger a civil authority clause for business-interruption policies. “The purpose of the Oceana action was to bring awareness,” Mr Houghtaling told Bloomberg News. 

Meyer Shields, an insurance analyst at Keefe, Bruyette&Woods, said yesterday in a note to clients: “The initial reaction [which was ours as well] assuming modest business interruption losses without an actual, covered property loss now appears too optimistic. “Insurers have been cautiously optimistic that virus exclusions will hold in Covid-19 business interruption claims, but some courts have held that contamination may constitute a covered ‘physical loss’.” Other underwriting exposures for the Bermuda market lie in the island’s booming life reinsurance business, which will be impacted if mortality rates spike. Dr Hartwig didn’t see too much of concern for life reinsurers, for now at least. “If we look at the excess mortality being generated by Covid-19 outside Italy, it’s not, for now, substantially different from what we might see in an ordinary flu season in the US,” he said. The ongoing flu season was expected to claim about 50,000 lives in the US alone, he added. As of yesterday, the US death toll for Covid-19 was 913. Many insurers and reinsurers will be on the hook for the postponement or cancellation of events. Organisers of the Olympic Games, scheduled to take place in Tokyo in July and August, this week postponed the event until next year. 

The Euro 2020 football tournament was also put back a year. “I do expect there to be some exposure with events, but probably manageable losses,” Dr Hartwig said. “There’s not a lot of public information available, as these policies tend to be unique and that is privileged information between the broker, client and insurer. Bermuda is part of that market and Lloyd’s as well.” Another exposure is workers’ compensation coverage, which, in the case of Covid-19, would be triggered by health workers contracting the disease in the course of their work, for example. “We are hearing reports of this happening, but it does not appear to be an epidemic among healthcare workers at this point in the US,” Dr Hartwig said. "Having said that, there are likely to be substantial workers’ compensation costs for insurers that provide coverage in healthcare settings and that could include nursing homes. Also we’ve seen several states have expanded their workers’ compensation statutes to include the time an individual spends in quarantine.” In the case of a nurse quarantined for 14 days because of exposure to Covid-19, an insurer would be required to pay wages for that period, whether or not the person became ill, he said.

paragraphFuneral directors have adapted to the new normal so families can still mourn their loved ones despite restrictions imposed over the Covid-19 pandemic. Leon Amis, the owner of Amis Memorial Chapel in Warwick, said yesterday that funeral services would still go ahead, but with a restricted number of mourners. He said: “What’s being done now is graveside services for the immediate family. At a later date, they can hold a memorial service if they wish. We give families a chance to have a viewing and we can control numbers of people here at the parlor.” Mr Amis said funeral services had complied with an order that restricted public gatherings to ten people, imposed last Sunday when David Burt, the Premier, introduced tighter controls. He added: “We are following all the other precautions for cleanliness — we have hand sanitiser where folks normally sign the register book. Families understand the situation. For some, it’s inconvenient, but we have to follow rules.” The Amis chapel has eight funerals scheduled, two of them cremations — in line with normal numbers. Reginald Rawlins, the owner of the Bulley-Graham-Rawlins funeral home in Pembroke, said that the number of cremations was “about the same”. Mr Rawlins said: “At this time with the coronavirus, cremation provides for a faster option if people want that. The rules are quite clear. Churches are closed. The bottom line is funeral services are graveside with family only. The main thing is abiding by the rules laid down by the Ministry of Health, with crowds down to ten. Families “absolutely” understood the need for caution. No one is being foolish about it — everyone is just following guidelines.”

paragraphA gunman was arrested seconds after he shot and wounded another man in Pembroke, police said yesterday. Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley said he was “extremely angry” at the “selfish” behaviour of gun criminals who tied up the emergency services as the island concentrated on the Covid-19 crisis. He added: “It doesn’t help when we are called to deal with such matters.” Mr Corbishley appealed for people who could influence the offenders to try and restore calm. Mr Corbishley added: “As commissioner, I have very little influence on their behaviour, if at all. There are people that do.” He added: “We ask sincerely that there is a stop to this kind of behaviour, a stop to the fallout and resorting to the use of serious violence, particularly firearms. We need calm so we can get on with what we have got to do, which is to protect the health of Bermuda.” Mr Corbishley was speaking after a 35-year-old man was shot in the arm at the junction of Two Way Deepdale Road and Parsons Road at about 11pm on Tuesday.

The victim was taken by ambulance to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, but his injuries are not life-threatening. Police said a lone gunman was believed to be responsible for the crime, and that a potential witness was thought to have been with the victim when he was shot. Mr Corbishley said a police armed response vehicle was close to the scene of the attack and the suspect was arrested within “seconds” of the shooting. He added: “There are, thankfully, a small number of people in our community who resort to such violence and their acts not only are criminal but they are selfish to the whole fabric of Bermuda. They take away our resources to address matters that we should be actually focusing on — the health of our island.” 

Wayne Caines, the national security minister, said last night that he could not confirm a link between the shooting and an earlier stabbing incident. Mr Caines said: “While I cannot say that there is a link because this matter is being investigated by the Bermuda Police Service, I can tell you that we’re deeply concerned with the rise in violence over the last couple of days.” A police spokesman said: “Quick action by police officers resulted in a person of interest in connection with this incident being taken into custody. That person is now assisting police with their inquiries.” Anyone who can help the police inquiry should call Detective Chief Inspector Arthur Glasford at 247-1174 or Detective Sergeant Jason Smith of the Serious Crime Unit on 247-1128. Information can also be passed on through the independent and confidential Crime Stoppers hotline at 800-8477.

paragraphBermuda Press Holdings Ltd has suspended payment of dividends and has postponed the annual general meeting meeting that was scheduled for March 27. The decisions taken by the group’s board of directors were driven by government-mandated measures to limit the spread of Covid-19 and their impact on the business. BPHL is the parent company of The Royal Gazette and also owns commercial printing, real estate and retail interests including this website. Stephen Thomson, BPHL chairman, said last night: “We find ourselves in unprecedented times. The measures being taken to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus will have a significant impact on our community and business. “Therefore, BPHL has suspended its quarterly dividend. It is the prudent decision given the current uncertainties facing Bermuda. The board will review the company’s ability to resume the payment of dividends before the end of each quarter.” BPHL, whose share price closed at $8 on the Bermuda Stock Exchange yesterday, had been paying a quarterly dividend of seven cents per share over the past two years. Mr Thomson added the postponement of the AGM was logical, based on the need for social distancing and the Government’s notice to limit gathering to less than ten people. “We will issue a notice of meeting once we are able to set a new date,” Mr Thomson said. He added: “The board recognizes the importance of reporting news and information to our community in times of crisis. We would be remiss not to recognise the huge efforts being made by our staff to continue publishing and printing and thank our customers for their continuing support.”

paragraphThoshlae and Taylor Williams were just getting their new Airbnb management business, Elevate Host Services, off the ground, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck. “We lost thousands of dollars in cancellations,” Ms Williams said. “Luckily, we don’t have a lot of overhead, so it hasn’t completely shut us down.” While they figure out their next step, they have launched a gift box business. “We are putting together care packages for people in quarantine or people who are on social-distancing,” said Mr Williams. The packages contain health and wellness products, and can be purchased through the Elevate Host Service store on the Sargasso Sea app. “We are working with local small business owners so we can get their products out so people don’t have to leave home, but can get things they want and help to relieve their stress while they are home,” Ms Williams said. They have worked before with vendors including Noveltea, Sousa’s Gardens, The Bermuda Bookstore, Long Story Short and Brown&Co. “They’re on board and fully in support,” Ms Williams said. “It also helps them. Some of these vendors have store fronts and are trying to sell products and don’t have the means to get their products to the people.” For now, the packages are for adults, but they might do children’s packages in the future. 

The idea came to them early on in the crisis, when they noticed that people wanted to get out and buy things but were concerned about maintaining social distance. “A lot of people don’t necessarily want to leave their home,” Mr Williams said. “We thought it would be good to deliver some of these needed products to make them feel better.” The aim is to relieve some of the stress people are feeling, at present. “A lot of people have uncertainty because of the Covid-19 virus,” Ms Williams said. “People are turning to gardening. We actually have plant seeds in the package. We are trying to help people to build their immune systems up by giving them herbal teas and hopefully lift their spirits.” Mr Williams said, as the world goes into lockdown, we really need to band together and support each other. “That is what we are trying to do in these uncertain times,” he said. “We want to provide a little bit of support and put a smile on people’s faces in terms of how we can help.” In the meantime, they are brainstorming what they might do to keep their business going until Bermuda’s industry can be revived. “We might shift to promoting local Airbnbs as places to staycation,” she said. However, she said many Airbnb owners they talked to weren’t keen on turning their rental units into quarantine facilities. “A lot of homeowners live on the property,” Ms Williams. “They don’t want to put themselves at risk of catching the virus. We are trying to pivot and we have changed our strategy a few times. There are a few barriers, obviously.”

Another issue is that cleaners can’t go into the units while people under quarantine are staying there for 14 days. “It has been really hard,” Ms Williams said. “We are trying to get a positive out of this. What we are doing now — hopefully it helps people and they can see the value in the package. We will see.” Their base basket starts at $64 and includes a beauty mask, inspirational book, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, detox tea, and a succulent plant. Shoppers also have the option to select additional local products as add-ons to their baskets. They are offering a ten per cent discount to senior citizens. When ordering, they are asking for 24 hours to gather the inventory and package it. Sargasso Sea will deliver.

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March 25

paragraphBermuda’s telecoms and energy watchdog has taken swift action to protect consumers and small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Regulatory Authority has issued the Regulatory Authority (Covid-19) Emergency General Determination 2020, which became operative yesterday upon its publication in the Official Gazette. The RA said it has “provided strong direction to providers of electronic communications and electricity services, to take the appropriate actions to ensure there is no loss of service as a result of Covid-19”. The RA added that the emergency determination, with feedback from sectoral providers, will enforce the following prohibitions:

The RA’s move comes after telecoms groups, including Digicel, One Communications and World on Wireless, as well as electricity provider Belco, have publicly stated they will not disconnect customers who struggle to pay their bills amid the economic disruption of the Covid-19 crisis. Under the RA’s emergency determination “relevant persons” will have to demonstrate that their loss of employment or significant income has affected their ability to pay for services due to the pandemic without offsetting (full or partial) government, or other agency, support. “Small business”, under the emergency determination, means a Bermudian-owned and Bermudian owner-operated business enterprise with either a maximum of ten full-time employees; or gross annual sales of less than $1 million; or an annual payroll of less than $500,000, as evidenced by the most recent quarterly payroll tax filing. 

The RA strongly encouraged “relevant persons” to monitor their data usage patterns, as monthly usage and charges for over-usage will still be applicable once the Covid-19 pandemic period is over, it said. William Francis, chairman of the RA, said: “As one of the principal functions of the RA is to promote the development of the local economy and protect consumers, we are naturally concerned about the potential detrimental effects of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the consumers and small businesses of Bermuda. “We consider the prevention of widespread loss of electronic communications and electricity services to be urgent and in the public interest. We are pleased that sectoral providers have followed the direction as indicated by the RA.” As a result of Covid-19, the RA said it has also extended the timetable for public feedback on the Principles of Consumer Protection until April 13.

For more information about the Emergency General Determination and the Principles of Consumer Protection, visit website ra.bm.  

paragraphA group of students stranded in Canada touched down on the rock last night. Karen Marino, who arrived wearing a surgical facemask, said it “felt great” to be home after being stranded in Toronto since Sunday. The 23-year-old student at Dalhousie University in Halifax added: “I’m so happy. I’m on cloud nine. I came out of the airport and I saw my mom tearing up and crying. I went to go to hug her but then I remembered ‘wait, I can’t’.” Ms Marino, from St George’s, was speaking after she and five other students were stuck at Pearson airport in Toronto after their emergency WestJet weekend flight was cancelled at the last minute. The students returned on another WestJet plane, along with a dozen other Bermudians. Her mother, Isabel Villacres, said: “I’m just so happy and glad. Thanks to everyone that was involved with getting this flight in to rescue our students. I am so thankful.” Ms Marino said that after her hopes of getting home on Sunday were dashed, she did not want to get her hopes up that yesterday’s flight would go ahead. She explained: “Nothing really could’ve disappointed me after a certain point, so I wasn’t going to believe we were going home until I was on the plane and it was backing out. Once that happened, I thought ‘OK, we’re finally leaving’.” Ms Marino added: “While I was on the plane, I really thought we were going to come outside and everyone would tell us ‘you have to go back. " But I knew that was just fear and uncertainty ... everyone was actually really nice.” Ms Marino said that she was able to arrange to stay with a friend in Toronto and kept herself up to date with news from home and caring for pet rabbit Django. She admitted that she was frightened that Canada would be locked down before she had a chance to leave and she would be trapped. 

She said: “I was thinking ‘I just want to go home. I don’t want to be stuck here in Canada’. All the surrounding provinces were closing their borders down before I was supposed to leave and I knew Halifax would be next, so I knew I couldn’t go back.” Ms Marino will now have to stick to a strict two-week quarantine with no physical contact with her family. But she is prepared. Ms Marino said: “I didn’t really have contact with anybody in university, anyway. Sometimes, I forget that I’m allowed to leave the house in Halifax, whether there’s a pandemic or not, so I’m not worried. Ms Marino added: “I’ll just be keeping myself busy with inside workouts and online school. But right now I’m looking forward to quarantining and getting a shower.” Mikaela Kawaley-Lathan, 21, who travelled from university in Vancouver, was not looking forward to a quarantine period. She said: “I still have assignments to finish and I have to be able to focus while also not being able to leave my house.” Ms Kawaley-Lathan, a student at the University of British Columbia, said that she spent much of her time in Toronto asking her professors for extensions on coursework. She was worried about whether or not she would be able to come back home, as well as how she would manage to keep herself afloat if she had to move back to Vancouver. Ms Kawaley Lathan, from Sandys, coped with the stress in Toronto by playing solitaire and making videos on the social-media app TikTok. She said: “I made a few videos where I was dancing and then one of me sharing my story. I was really just looking for anything to get my mind off my situation.” 

Ms Kawaley-Lathan, who also arrived masked, said: “I think, overall, I was pretty relaxed, but everyone else was pretty highly stressed.” She added that the one bright spot in the gloom of the crisis was that the students had a chance to get to know one another and offered each other support. Ms Kawaley-Lathan said: “One person had a one-year-old with them and another person had a rabbit with them.” Everybody was saying ‘how do we not only take care of ourselves but also take care of these little beings that we have with us?’” She added: “We got pretty close because we were together for hours watching the government press conferences and tweeting at the Premier. Now I’m just glad to be back home.” Her sister Katrina said: “The family is incredibly relieved. The stress of not knowing whether she would make it or not, where she would stay and if she would have the support that she needed was overwhelming. Even if she’s stuck inside, at least we know where she is and we’re together as a family.”

paragraphLONDON (Reuters) — Delaying the Olympics is likely to cost insurers - including those with Bermuda-based offices - much less than canceling the Tokyo Games altogether. With a chance that some of those involved may not have policies specifically covering a postponement, industry sources say. The Tokyo Olympics were postponed yesterday to 2021, the first such delay in the modern Games’ 124-year history, as the coronavirus crisis forced the delay to one of the last international sporting events still standing this year. Jefferies analysts have estimated the insured cost of the Games at $2 billion, including TV rights and sponsorship, plus $600 million for hospitality. 

The International Olympic Committee takes out around $800 million of protection for each Summer Games, which covers most of the roughly $1 billion investment it makes in each host city. After the postponement, the IOC, local organisers, sponsors and hospitality and travel providers are among organisations who may look to recoup some money from insurers for the delay. However, this process is likely to be complicated. “Cancellation insurance usually includes postponement as standard,” said Tim Thornhill, sales director, entertainment and sport, at Lloyd’s of London broker Tysers, who also said this might not always be the case. Tokyo 2020 organising committee chief executive Toshiro Muto said yesterday it was not clear who would pay the extra costs arising from the postponement. 

The cost of postponing the Games was not discussed by IOC chief Thomas Bach and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe yesterday, Bach said, adding: “This is about protecting lives.” Japan has put up $12 billion to host the 2020 Olympics. Leigh Ann Rossi, chief operating officer of Sports and Entertainment at insurance broker BWD, said that for those organisations whose policies do cover the costs of postponement, “a claim would be less ... than for a full cancellation”. Rossi said it was difficult for insurers to determine an exact payout on such cover until after a postponed event finally takes place. Insurance industry sources said the payouts would be smaller because companies would still be able to make money out of the Olympics when it finally happens. Simon Sloane, partner at law firm Fieldfisher, said postponement insurance could cover money already spent and additional costs incurred to rearrange the event. Few sponsors have given details of their insurance. Comcast Corp has insurance if the Olympics don’t proceed, chief executive officer Brian Roberts said at a conference earlier this month. 

Comcast’s NBC Universal has sold more than $1.25 billion in national advertising for the games, a new record for any broadcaster. Insurance losses are likely to be borne by Lloyd’s of London, a commercial insurance marketplace, home to dozens of specialist insurers, industry sources say. Lloyd’s has asked its members to detail their potential losses from the coronavirus pandemic, and is due to report the aggregate 2019 results of its syndicate members tomorrow. Lloyd’s declined to comment. Lloyd’s insurers Beazley, Hiscox and Tokio Marine Kiln typically insure big sporting events such as the Olympics. Beazley declined to comment. Hiscox and Tokio Marine did not respond to a Reuters’ request for comment. Reinsurers such as Munich Re and Swiss Re share part of the burden of large losses with insurers in return for part of the premium. Munich Re has a $500 million exposure to the Tokyo Olympics, one source said. Munich Re declined to comment. Swiss Re has a $250 million exposure, chief financial officer John Dacey told analysts last week.

paragraphTraffic was backed up across the island after police and the Royal Bermuda Regiment carried out spot checks yesterday for people in breach of Covid-19 quarantine rules. Queues of cars formed on East Broadway and Corkscrew Hill as well as at Barnes Corner in Southampton as road users and their passengers were quizzed as part of the effort to limit the spread of the virus. Assistant Commissioner of Police Martin Weekes said: “We’re asking them if they are supposed to be quarantined, asking them for a driver’s licence, for identification because this is a road check and that’s where we get the power from to be stopping them. Then we’re checking their names against a list. We don’t have the list physically. What we’ve got is a list on a laptop from the Department of Health so we can key in a name and it will tell us whether that person is on the list or not.” He said that officers on checkpoint duty contacted a colleague in the communications and operations room, who checked if anyone should be in quarantine. Mr Weekes said access to the list was kept to a minimum for privacy purposes. 

He added: “We also ask all of the occupants of the car for their names.” Mr Weekes admitted the process was “laborious”, but that “there’s no other way around it”. He said: “This is very much like the roadside sobriety checkpoints. It’s more about getting people to think about what they’re doing, and getting them to comply, than it is to actually lock people up for being out. We want compliance, we don’t want to criminalize what, under normal circumstances, would be normal behaviour. We want people to see us, we want people to know that we’re out on the roads checking and to start thinking, perhaps I should stay at home.” He added that the checkpoints, also set up on South Road in Paget near the Ice Queen, Kindley Field Road in St George’s and Flatts Village near the aquarium, were about education and advice rather than enforcement. Mr Weekes said yesterday morning that, to his knowledge, no one had been found to be in breach of quarantine at the checkpoints. He explained that anyone who was found to be on the quarantine list would be told to “go home”. 

Mr Weekes added that police would make offenders aware that “their name will be submitted to the Department of Health, who will do a follow-up check at their residence and they may be subject to the fines that have been promulgated”. He added: “That’s up to the Justice of the Peace that is assigned to that, and that’s the way they’ve written the regulations. So we’re not doing on-the-spot fines, we’re not giving people tickets.” Some residents earlier raised concerns on social media about the effectiveness of the roadside exercises, including claims that their names were not checked against a central list. Mr Weekes said there might have been “teething issues, but that certainly shouldn’t be the case”. 

An update from the Government last night said that police reported that the community advisory points resulted in traffic delays which are caused by people who have no reason to be on the roads. The checks will be completed as quickly as possible, and the public is reminded they have an important role to play. If you do not have to be on the roads, stay home.” David Burt, the Premier, last night said that police blamed the checkpoints delays on “people who have no reason to be on the roads. The checks will be completed as quickly as possible, and the public is reminded they have an important role to play. If you do not have to be on the roads, stay home.” The Government last week cracked down on breaches of the island’s 14-day self-quarantine imposed on returned residents. Fines of up to $6,000 were introduced for a first offence and $10,000 or three months’ imprisonment for a second offence under amendments to public health law.

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paragraphA financial safety net of up to $500 a week will be set up by the Government for people thrown out of work as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the labour minister promised yesterday. Lovitta Foggo said her ministry would “do what it can to assist the many people that have found themselves displaced and their financial future uncertain due to Covid-19”. She added that the emergency benefits would be given to work-permit holders as well as Bermudians. Ms Foggo said the benefit would apply to “guest workers who have lost their jobs and are unable to return home” to ensure that “other sectors of the economy are not further damaged”. She added that the “temporary financial cushion” would be distributed by the Department of Workforce Development with a proposed maximum of 12 weeks per employee. 

Bermudian applicants can apply for financial assistance at the end of the scheme if needed, but work-permit holders will not be eligible. The unemployment benefit for laid-off employees who are not on financial assistance already was set at 60 per cent of gross earnings up to a maximum of $500 a week. Ms Foggo said: “Where the eligible applicant is receiving a percentage of their salary from their employer, and the amount is less than $500 per week, the applicant will be entitled to the different up to a gross amount of $500.” Eligible staff must meet the definition of an employee under employment legislation, and be Bermudian, the spouse of a Bermudian, a permanent resident’s certificate holder, or a work-permit holder unable to leave Bermuda because of travel restrictions. They must have been in full-time employment and have been laid off or had their employment terminated because of the Covid-19 pandemic, put on mandatory medical quarantine without compensation from their employer, or be self-employed and no longer at work because of the illness. 

Applications for the emergency payouts can be made online from tomorrow at the Bermuda job board or at gov.bm. Paper application forms will be available from the General Post Office lobby in Hamilton from tomorrow. Ms Foggo said: “As we are trying to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19, I would encourage eligible employees to apply online and use the help line numbers, 297-7714 and 297-7716, should they require assistance. This government is trying to be sensitive to the needs and hardships that our residents are facing. We will work with our employers and employees to ensure that we provide as much support as possible during these testing times. I have been encouraged by those companies that as good corporate citizens will pay laid-off staff a percentage of their salaries and insurance premiums in full. We will continue to provide updates on this benefits package — so please listen out.”

paragraphPolice and Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers have teamed up to enforce Covid-19 quarantine and isolation restrictions, it was announced yesterday. Assistant Commissioner of Police Martin Weekes warned that the power to detain offenders “will be considered where appropriate”. He said seven “community advisory points” would be set up at key locations across the island to stop and check drivers against “a list of those who have been issued restrictions by the health department”. Mr Weekes added that anyone who appeared on the list “and have no valid reason for being on the road will be instructed to return to their residence and to follow the requirements that have been issued to them by the health department”. He said: “Their names will be taken and communicated to the health department for further actions to be taken.” Major Ben Beasley, the Commanding Officer of the RBR, said: “This is just one of the ways we are able to assist the civil authorities and provide valuable back-up to maintain resilience in the island’s response to this crisis — we’re happy to help. 

The regiment will maintain its high state of alert. We are adaptable and capable of a flexible response to this and any other tasks which we might be asked to carry out by the Ministry of National Security.” Major Beasley added: “Being able to rely on this dedicated body of soldiers is only possible because of comprehensive training and maintenance of our ethos and esprit d’corps. That is the spirit of the military in action.” The first joint checkpoints were in operation last night, including one at Crow Lane roundabout near Hamilton and another at Rural Hill, Paget. Mr Weekes appealed for the public to stick to rules designed to minimise the spread of the virus and “avoid any unnecessary movement as we all work together to flatten the curve”. Mr Weekes added: “To that end, the Bermuda Police Service will be working with their colleagues in the RBR on methods to enforce these regulations as we seek to suppress the transfer of the Covid-19 virus through the control of unnecessary social movement and influencing of social-distancing. This is also in keeping with the requirements of the Quarantine Act to mitigate the risk presented by individuals and groups.”

paragraphTalks to end industrial action by trash collection workers are under way, the Premier said last night

Sanitation staff stopped work yesterday over what the public works ministry said were “concerns raised by workers”. Mr Burt said that trash collection was an essential service and that a halt to garbage pick-ups was “unfortunate. I am, however, concerned that the result of this impasse could be counterproductive to all that we are trying to achieve by causing more people to be out of their homes, and in unnecessary contact with others, just to dispose of their trash. My hope is that this impasse can be resolved in the best interest of all of us.” Mr Burt said that he had talked to Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union yesterday, and that more talks would be held today. Mr Burt admitted that the conditions under which people had to work as a result of steps to curb the spread of Covid-19 were difficult. But he said that the preventive measures that had been taken by the Government were in the “interest of protecting lives. I urge all of those who are involved in essential services to recognise the role which we play to help our country be united in getting through this particular time of challenge. I have  to set the record clear on social-media rumors that trash collection had stopped because self-quarantine rules had been broken by a trash collector. 

At no time did anyone who was under mandatory self-quarantine break their quarantine in this particular circumstance. Fear and hysteria will not help Bermuda get through the difficulties of which we are going through right now.” He added that everyone had a role to play to make sure Bermuda contained the spread of Covid-19 and “emerge stronger”. However, Mr Burt warned: “If we decide to tear ourselves apart, to say, ‘I’m not going to do this, I’m not going to do that, et cetera’, then it will be a difficult few weeks and I hope that we will not get there. The country’s aggressive testing regime to combat Covid-19 continued and that 16 new test results yesterday had all been clear. Bermuda is ahead of the curve when it comes to testing our population.” He said that he could not give the number of tests performed. yesterday. There were six confirmed cases of the virus last night. Mr Burt added that the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital’s 28 ventilators would “certainly be enough” if the country was able to limit the spread of Covid-19. He said he was “incredibly confident” about preparations made by the Bermuda Hospitals Board to handle the disease. Mr Burt added he had not been given an estimate of the percentage of the population that would become infected with the coronavirus. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said predictions had been made by Public Health England for the Overseas Territories, which could be released later. Mr Burt hoped there would be “100 per cent compliance” with the expanded closure order that came into force yesterday. 

All retail stores, cinemas and bars were shut down and restaurants were limited to take-out service. Mr Burt said that the closure policy would be in place for seven days at least. He added that the police and the Royal Bermuda Regiment would enforce mandatory self-quarantine orders with checkpoints to catch people who ignored the rules. Mr Burt said: “Those people who should be in quarantine put people’s lives at risk by being out and about in the community.” Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, said that there was a plan to hold anyone arrested for violation of self-quarantine orders. But he declined to discuss details. Mr Corbishley said: “I don’t think it would be suitable for us to discuss that here, just because it is an operational matter for the police.” But he said the possibility of arrests for quarantine violations was “remote”. Mr Corbishley added that police officers would continue social-distancing on the job and that it was not necessary for police to wear face masks. The commissioner said: “We don’t want to alarm the public by taking that step.” Mr Burt said that a WestJet flight from Toronto to bring Bermudians stranded in Canada home was expected to take off at 2pm today. He added that talks were continuing to get a similar flight from the United States.

paragraphThe historic Newport Bermuda Race is to be cancelled for the first time in more than 60 years, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club said yesterday

Organisers added that the race — axed because of the Covid-19 pandemic — was last abandoned in 1940 amid the gathering storm clouds of the Second World War. Jay Gowell, the chairman of the Bermuda Race Organising Committee, said: “As representatives of the race’s co-sponsoring clubs — the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club — the BROC believes in promoting the practice of safety as a way of life offshore. “Our committee has always held the position that we can only conduct the Bermuda race if conditions for competitors and local populations made it safe to do so. After continuing to seek guidance from numerous government and medical advisers, it has become evident there is no longer a timeline allowing our sailors and supporters to prepare for and participate in this offshore race safely. This decision is extremely disappointing to our sailors as well as organisers. As an international race organising authority, it is our responsibility to be a part of the solution to reduce the risk of exposure.” The biennial race, which would have been the 52nd in the event’s 114-year history, was scheduled to start on June 19. Mr Gowell said the organisers would work with sponsors, vendors and suppliers to “balance our accounts equitably” and will return entry fees paid after the initial deposit. 

He added that the Cruising Club of America and the RBYC would not make any money from the event. Mr Gowell said: “We would like to say thank you to all competitors for their support, encouragement and understanding as we have navigated this unprecedented and uncertain time. We want to recognise that some of you have proposed an alternative race that would not land a fleet of sailors in Bermuda. However, with the situation dire and the future unpredictable, we have chosen not to organise an alternative race.” The Newport to Bermuda race, dubbed “the thrash to the Onion Patch”, was launched in 1906 and continued as an annual event for five years. The event returned after the end of the First World War and continued every second year until 1940. The race restarted in 1946 after the end of the Second World War. It has been held every other year since then. The next Newport to Bermuda Race is scheduled to start on June 17, 2022.

paragraphA judicial review ruling that police acted unlawfully in a doctor’s arrest and search of his house has been upheld by the Court of Appeal 

Mahesh Reddy’s 2017 Supreme Court victory against police after an early morning arrest was supported in a judgment handed down by the court, which dismissed a Bermuda Police Service appeal against an earlier ruling in Dr Reddy’s favour by the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeal has upheld the Supreme Court decision and ruled that the police acted “unreasonably”. The judgment, issued last Friday, said “the power to arrest does not arise simply because the police wished to be able to carry out a search”. Dr Reddy was arrested in May 2016 as part of a long-running police investigation into Ewart Brown, a doctor and former premier with two medical practices, which offer diagnostic imaging scans. Police raided Dr Reddy’s home at 7am, arrested him and searched his house for two hours. Dr Brown and Dr Reddy have denied police allegations that they carried out medical fraud by ordering expensive patient scans that were not needed. 

Dr Reddy is medical director at Bermuda Healthcare Services in Paget, which was raided by police in February 2017 at the same time as a sweep of the Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s. Officers removed patient records, among other items, which sparked a separate lawsuit by Dr Brown’s patients. The 2016 raid included the search of the purse of a female friend who was present, along with Dr Reddy’s wallet and a cabinet that held five patient files. John Briggs, a senior police investigator, said in an affidavit that police believed, based on “protracted investigations”, that Dr Reddy was “involved in administering unnecessary diagnostic tests for financial gain”. Police maintained the raid was part of “a large-scale fraud and corruption inquiry, which commenced in 2012” and that they were investigating allegations of money laundering. Dr Reddy took his case before then Chief Justice, Ian Kawaley, who found that the arrest and search, conducted without a search warrant, was unlawful. Dr Reddy added that police caused him embarrassment by questioning him at the airport in 2014 and 2015. 

Dr Reddy was also questioned at New York’s JFK airport in 2016 by the US Department of Homeland Security. He further accused police in an affidavit of taking away “confidential and sensitive patient information”. Dr Reddy told police that if they wanted to question him, he would “make himself available at any time of the day or night in any part of the world, but asked the BPS not to harass him at the airport in Bermuda in front of his friends, colleagues and patients”. Mr Briggs said later there had been “compelling reasons” for the arrest, but Mr Justice Kawaley wrote that Mr Briggs failed to detail those reasons for the court. Police arrested Dr Reddy under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, but Mr Justice Kawaley ruled they had made a “fatal failure to consider crucially relevant matters”. Mr Justice Kawaley quashed Dr Reddy’s arrest and bail, declared the search unlawful, and ordered police to return the seized items in his June 2017 ruling. Police appealed, but Dr Brown launched his own Supreme Court action against the Attorney-General last December and listed his two clinics as complainants.

paragraphOne of Bermuda’s top fashion designers has died suddenly. Dean Williams was 55

René Hill, a clothes designer and former reporter at The Royal Gazette who worked with Mr Williams from 2014 to 2016, said she had learnt a lot from him. She said his death had “rocked me to the core”. Ms Hill added: “I last saw him about a fortnight ago and we had a brief chat. He had just returned from the US where he was assisting a mutual friend who was experiencing some health issues.” 

Ms Hill said: “The Bermuda fashion world has lost one of its brightest stars. Dean had an eye that was second to none, as he would take an ordinary piece of fabric and would transform it into a thing of beauty. In all my years, I haven’t come across anyone with his level of talent and skill. We collaborated and worked together for several years in studio and on fashion shows. He will be greatly missed.” Ms Hill said that Mr Williams’s talents would have shone on the international stage. She added: “He was seriously talented, but limited by geography. In somewhere like New York, Dean could have been the next Givenchy. It’s sad to see him go.” Mr Williams, a dressmaker and upholsterer, ran the custom clothing and alterations business Definitions by Deane. He said his store, opened in 2010 in his Devonshire home and later moved to Hamilton, as “a milestone in a 25-year-long love affair with beauty and grace in fashion”. Mr Williams said he created his first outfit in 1985, after years of experimenting in clothes and tailoring and doing alterations for neighbours. 

He wrote on his website that this “part-time hobby would morph into a vocation”. Mr Williams studied in New York at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Traphagen School of Fashion in New York City after training in fashion design at Bermuda college. He later worked as an assistant to prominent Manhattan designer Albert Sakhai. Mr Williams said his style was “a timeless and classic, yet edgy, design aesthetic”, and highlighted designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen as influences. He traced his interest in fashion to his mother, Velda Darrell, and her sewing machine. He told The Royal Gazette in 2011: “She taught me how to operate the machine. It wasn’t considered normal when I was growing up. There was always a stigma attached to men sewing and designing. People said you had to have a real job to fall back. I see my work as eclectic, creative and unique. I tend to be proud of what I do, but I would say I am probably most proud of my bridal pieces.” Mr Williams backed shows in Bermuda through the Bermuda Fashion Collective and praised the island’s “unrecognised designers and creative types”. He also showcased his line of clothing overseas, including the Small Boutique Fashion Week at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York in 2013. 

Mark Anderson, a gay rights campaigner and entertainer whose alter ego is Sybil Barrington, Queen of Bermuda, said Mr Williams was “a living legend”. He added: “Dean was one of Bermuda’s instrumental fashion designers, going back to when fashion shows were held at the Clayhouse Inn. He designed my Gombey dress that I wore in 2006, when the Government banned me from the May 24 parade.” Mr Anderson said Mr Williams was “a humble, spiritual guy” who would “give you the shirt off his back if he had to. He was always professional, whatever job he was hired to do. His wedding dresses were always on point and he would finish a job the week before it was due. If you came to Dean with an idea, he was so creative he could make something out of your plans and it would be better than what you had thought of. He never copied. Everything he did was original.” Mr Anderson compared Mr Williams to the late Italian designer Gianni Versace. He added: “He is our version of him — Dean Williams is that good.”

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March 23

paragraphAs reported in brief on Sunday, Bermuda now has six cases of Covid-19 and more positive test results are expected in the days ahead, the Premier said last night

David Burt added four new cases had been detected on top of two earlier ones. Mr Burt said that none of the six people who tested positive for the coronavirus had needed hospitalization. He said that of the new cases, one was “a close family contact” of a passenger on the March 8 British Airways flight and one arrived on the BA flight on March 17. Mr Burt added “two people arrived in Bermuda by private jet” and developed the illness. He said that the self-monitoring period for passengers on the March 8 flight ended yesterday and that the self-monitoring period for people on the March 17 flight would end on March 31. He added: “If you have not been unwell during this period, there is nothing else for you to do.” Mr Burt said that anyone who was on either flight who had felt unwell should contact their doctor and tell them which flight they were on. The Premier said that on-island testing for Covid-19 was a “critical piece” in Bermuda’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

He predicted that there would more positive test results. Mr Burt added: “The more we test, the more we know. The issue is not whether or not there are more positive results, this issue is how do we handle those.” Mr Burt said that healthcare workers had started “aggressive testing” for the virus and 96 tests could be carried out every day. He added: “So far, we have tested 41 people locally.” The Premier said that 11 test were done on Friday, one of which had come back positive. A total of 17 tests were done on Saturday and 13 yesterday. Mr Burt said the results should be in by tomorrow. He added he was “confident” that the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital could handle demand created by the virus. Mr Burt said the public must also launch an effort to social-distance to prevent spread of the virus and that police and the Royal Bermuda Regiment would be “actively monitoring” people who had arrived in Bermuda since March 17 and were on self-quarantine. The Premier said the earlier closure order would be extended to include all retail stores, cinemas and bars from 5pm today. He added that restaurants would be limited to take-out service. Gatherings will also be limited to no more than ten people — down from the original figure of 50. 

Mr Burt said that only “essential businesses” would be allowed to operate and with reduced hours. These include banks, food suppliers, supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations. He added that the Cabinet had also approved an unemployment benefits package to be provided to people who were out of work because of the pandemic. Mr Burt said "details of the scheme would be provided to the public today. The unemployment benefit will for eligible employees not on financial assistance and will provide the payment of 60 per cent of gross earnings up to a maximum of $500 per week.” Mr Burt said that the Bermuda Hotel Association had said that 1,400 workers were laid off after hotels closed their doors. He added: “Those hotel workers will receive their funds so that they can continue to live life during this very difficult time.” Mr Burt said public schools would launch a “remote-learning strategy in the upcoming week. Although school buildings were closed to pupils, teachers and other staff still could still work from their schools if they practiced social-distancing. It is everyone’s responsibility to minimise the spread of the virus. That means following self-quarantine, staying home when you are sick, maintaining good hygiene and, most of all making sure that you contact your doctor if you are feeling symptoms. Government’s top priority was public safety. The best way for that to happen is for persons to follow the rules.”

paragraphAn emergency transport service to get hospital staff to work is to be introduced

The move came after emergency service workers who travel to work by public transport were forced to walk or find alternative ways to get to their jobs after services were suspended to cut the spread of the coronavirus. David Burt, the Premier, said on Saturday: “Recognising that public transportation has been suspended for now, and that we have a number of health professionals who use public transportation, the department will put on a special pick-up for our key health workers such as nurses, health technicians and caregivers.” He added: “Those details will be shared as finalised.” The move came after a member of staff from King Edward VII Memorial Hospital posted on social media on Thursday that she had to walk two miles to reach the hospital because taxis were off the road as well.

paragraphTwenty ventilators are available at the island’s general hospital and eight more are on their way, the Bermuda Hospitals Board said last night

A BHB spokeswoman added there was also a plan to look after critical patients outside King Edward VII Memorial Hospital’s intensive care unit if the Covid-19 pandemic caused widespread serious illness. She said: “This is an exceptional situation. There is not a hospital or healthcare system that is built, supplied and staffed to be ready for a pandemic like this.” The spokeswoman added the board had still to get an estimated time of arrival for the extra ventilators. However, she said the equipment — machines that help patients with respiratory problems to breathe — was only part of the equation. 

She explained: “You need bed spaces where there is oxygen available, and critical care staff who are specially trained to look after ventilated patients. Although Covid-19 most significantly affects the lungs, all critically ill patients are at risk of multiple organ failure, so this specialized critical care training is vital. So our ability to care for critically ill Covid-19 patients relies equally on equipment, such as ventilators, staff and space. For this reason, we are looking at increasing our capacity outside of the intensive care unit at KEMH and utilizing all bed space with available oxygen.” The spokeswoman said increasing acute and critical care bed capacity was an immediate priority, as well as “cross-training and upskilling” existing staff. KEMH suspended elective surgeries last week to start the training. The hospitals board will also collaborate with “healthcare colleagues in the community” for extra back-up. KEMH has 120 acute care beds, with 90 in the acute care wing and 30 in the general wing. There are nine beds in the ICU. The acute care beds were 80 per cent occupied and the ICU beds were 77 per cent occupied last Friday evening. The bed occupancy varies and is monitored daily. 

The BHB spokeswoman said: “Our current plan is to use other areas of the hospital for ventilated patients. Today, we could care for up to 20 people on ventilators. When our additional ventilators arrive, we will be able to use them all.” She added: “We are working with Government to discharge at least 30 long-term care patients, use operating room spaces and other ward areas. Some good news is that we were in the middle of a bed replacement programme.” The spokeswoman said 48 new beds would arrive today and would be used immediately if needed. BHB had 420 nurses — 383 full time and 34 casuals — 118 doctors, 203 nurse aides (165 full-time, 37 casuals, one temporary) on staff in February. There were also 31 emergency medical technicians — 22 full time, eight casuals and one part-time. The spokeswoman said: “There are additional nurses in administrative and leadership functions and nurses and doctors in the community who can also add to these numbers in a time of crisis, especially if staff themselves are ill or in quarantine.” 

About 40 of BHB’s nurses have critical care training, along with 12 anesthetists, plus two doctors outside the hospital with training who could support, and 13 emergency department doctors. The spokeswoman added: “There are also certain speciality doctors and nurses in the hospital and community who can help work to support Emergency Department and inpatient care. This will need to be a team effort to get through.” A study by the Harvard Global Health Institute released last week warned that US hospitals could be overwhelmed by the illness. The review suggested that in a worst-case scenario, 60 per cent of the US population would get Covid-19, with a moderate scenario of 40 per cent and a best-case scenario of 20 per cent. Those numbers were specific to the US. The study predicted 20 per cent of adults who caught the coronavirus would need hospitalization and 20 per cent of those hospitalized would need a ventilator. 

Premier David Burt said last night that although there were six confirmed cases in Bermuda, there had not yet been one that required hospitalization. He said in a Facebook Q&A on Saturday that the Government had imposed strict measures to limit community spread of the virus here. The Premier added: “I do not have a concern that our hospital will be overrun and I have no intention of letting us get to that particular point at all.” Bermuda’s population was 63,779, with 17 per cent aged over 65, in 2016, according to the census. The BHB spokeswoman said: “It is sobering looking at numbers and our hope is that people pay attention as they are the front line of protection and can help us towards the best case scenario, which would be most manageable. As healthcare workers on the frontline, we will do everything we can. The healthcare community is pulling together, and we are planning, testing and looking into every option we have to cope.” She added: “This is why we cannot stress strongly enough that the community actions now — social, physical distancing; washing hands; not touching our eyes, nose and mouth; adhering to quarantine and isolation guidelines; and staying at home — are the most important actions that will enable the healthcare system to cope, along with on-island testing, and border control. This gives us the chance to slow and maybe even eradicate the virus in Bermuda.”

paragraphA group of Bermuda students were stranded in Toronto last night after an emergency flight to bring them home was cancelled at the last minute

Karen Marino, a Bermudian student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, travelled nearly 800 miles to Toronto to catch the WestJet flight, organised to take Canadian citizens home from Bermuda, but also bring Bermudians in Canada back to the island. She said last night that she arrived in Toronto at 7am and was preparing to board a WestJet flight to Bermuda yesterday afternoon. However, she added: “All of a sudden, the screen said ‘cancelled’. We were so confused and some of us were on the verge of tears out of frustration and the disappointment over how we were so close to home.” The 23-year-old from St George’s said: “Halifax has pretty much closed up its borders today, so going back wouldn’t be an option for me.” She added that she and another five students from Bermuda who teamed up at the airport and were due to catch the flight were worried that, if they left Toronto’s Pearson Airport, they might not be allowed back in. But Ms Marino, who is travelling with pet rabbit Django, said she and her mother, Isabel Villacres, managed to arrange that she could stay with a former roommate at Dalhousie who lives 20 minutes from the airport who came to pick her up. She added: “I’m so exhausted — I think we are just going to rest. We really haven’t slept in for ever.” Ms Marino changed her original flight home to last night before the shutdown of international air travel and faced being stranded in Canada for a month until the WestJet flight, which was scheduled to leave Pearson about 2pm, was arranged. She said at 1pm she was ready to board along with her friends and other travellers when the shock announcement that the plane would not take off was made. It is understood that the flight was cancelled because of problems at the Federal Aviation Administration’s New York air traffic control centre, which meant flights in Bermuda airspace could not go ahead. The problems also forced the cancellation of an emergency Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta to Bermuda to bring American citizens home, but also to get Bermudians back to the island. Ms Villacres said last night: “I was devastated when she called me and said the flight was cancelled — I said ‘what is going on? I could hear the kids trying to tell the agents they weren’t correct and that this flight was organised by the Canadian Government. It was terrible as a mother — I’m waiting for her to come home and to be with me.” Ms Villacres added: “The one thing we didn’t want was for her to be caught up in the middle of all this and stuck in the middle. It’s so heartbreaking — I just don’t have the words. There were tears of frustration and tears of happiness when the flight home was announced and then I was crushed again. I know the Government is doing everything in their power, but it’s not the Government it’s the Federal Aviation Administration ... I know that these kids would have been home tonight. I can understand our government’s position. It’s not a normal international flight, it’s a relief flight. Humanitarian.” She added she “hoped and prayed” that “something transpires” today. David Burt, the Premier, pledged last night that stranded passengers would be able to get back home. He said: “We are certain those flights will be put on. He said: “As soon as we have information on those flights, we’ll be sure to publish it.” He added the Government was trying to find out how many residents were stuck in the US and Canada because of the flight cancellations. Mr Burt said: “We are trying to ascertain those particular numbers at this point in time so we can have a better understanding of those persons that are there.”

paragraphThe Phoenix Stores today launched a temporary prescription delivery service for those patients COVID-19 self-quarantined or unable to visit a drugstore

George Grundmuller, President & CEO of The Phoenix Stores Ltd says; “In light of recently confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the island, the health and safety of our customers, colleagues and community remain our priority, and we’ve taken several care measures in this regard as a company. For example, our pharmacists and associates are practising social distancing by maintaining six feet and encouraging customers to do the same. Plus, until further notice, all drugstores apart from Dockyard Pharmacy remain open at regular operating hours to help keep the number of people in-store at a minimum. Additionally, our front-line team was issued gloves, masks and protective suiting for use at their discretion while an aggressive cleaning programme is in place requiring regular cleaning throughout the day. Customers will also notice hand-sanitizer and disinfectant sprays at checkout for in-store use. We understand our drugstores provide essential services to our island and with the Government of Bermuda urging the community to stay at home, the introduction of a temporary prescription delivery service seems fitting. The process to have your prescription delivered is quite simple. For refills, call your pharmacist at any of The Phoenix Stores [apart for Dockyard Pharmacy], provide your refill number and request delivery. 

Orders received by noon will be delivered the next business day. For new prescriptions, have your doctor’s office fax the order to your pharmacist at any of The Phoenix Stores [apart for Dockyard Pharmacy]. Then, you must call the dispensary for over-the-phone counselling regarding your new medication and indicate the medicine is for delivery. Orders faxed and sorted by noon will be delivered the next business day. Any order received after noon will be delivered the business day after next. The free delivery service runs Monday to Friday, so if you place an order on a Friday, you will receive your meds the following Monday. Mr Grundmuller adds; “It’s important to note that we cannot include controlled and refrigerated drugs in this free delivery service. The free delivery service applies to prescriptions only and cannot get combined with any other products. Orders are verified by the patient’s name, address and date of birth at the time of delivery and a recipient must be on-site to claim that package as prescriptions will not be left on a doorstep or in a mailbox. Our team will process any payments or co-payments via your Phoenix Charge Card, credit or debit card before delivery. For further details, contact your pharmacist at The Phoenix Stores: Dispensary Telephone Facsimile. The Phoenix Centre 295-0698 295-2636. Woodbourne Chemist 295-1073 292-0230. Clarendon Pharmacy 295-9137 292-2265. Collector’s Hill Apothecary 279-5512 236-9054. Paget Pharmacy 295-5510 236-9057. Warwick Pharmacy 279-5556 236-8625. 

paragraphThe coronavirus pandemic will not stop The Royal Gazette bringing the public the latest news on the crisis. However, the pandemic has pushed the newspaper closer to an “online first” future

"We will follow the advice of the Government and medical professionals, and stick to rules on social-distancing and live up to our responsibility to keep readers informed," said Dexter Smith, the Editor. “We were already moving headlong into a digital-first era and this unprecedented crisis has expedited that dry run.” The newspaper will continue to publish six days a week and regular updates will be posted online, but the majority of staff will work from home. Reporters will attend press conferences and other breaking news events, but every precaution will be taken for their safety and that of the public — including restrictions on contact with customers at our offices to outside the entrance. Covid-19 has also meant there has been no sport to report on, domestic or international, and so the four full-time sports staff have joined the news team for the duration. 

Mr Smith, a former Sports Editor of the Gazette, said: “This was a simple and sensible decision to make. The Monday sports section was first reduced to four pages because of Covid-19 — and that was largely owing to the recklessly irresponsible decision by football authorities to carry on regardless with the island’s most popular social activity — then to two, then to one, and now has been suspended indefinitely starting Monday so that we can make best use of resources throughout the rest of this crisis.” The Royal Gazette editorial team, and others in the organisation, will communicate the same way most people will — electronically, through e-mail, chat groups, videoconferencing and conference calls. Tim Smith, the News Editor, started to work from home on Friday. He said: “It’s gone well so far, apart from my remote access breaking and my one-year-old daughter ‘carefully’ dropping my phone into a glass of water to render my communication with the office a farce, and two of my kids adapting to quarantine by charging relentlessly round my computer like caged animals who’ve been fed too much tartrazine. Luckily, we have a very reliable news team, some of whom don’t have kids, who have the ability and selflessness to fill in the gaps to make sure we can carry on reporting the news as quickly and comprehensively as Bermuda needs in a time like this, and an IT team that deals with our many requests for help 24/7. So far, so good. Two of our editorial staff got a head start because of the first closures of schools." Heather Wood, the Lifestyle Editor, began working from home early last week. She said the experience of balancing work and children had presented a unique set of challenges. Ms Wood added: “I did get a bit of practice for what’s going on now, as our six-year-old was out of school for most of last week with the flu, so since March 10 I’ve been looking after her and working when I can — much of it at night. On Tuesday, by which time she was better, her school officially closed and I realised how easy I’d had it the week before.” She said her daughter’s school had given her classwork and a variety of apps to assist. 

Ms Wood said: “We both did very well that first day. She did laps around our house with my husband before he went to work, did tons of maths and reading purely because she was interested — all while I worked and then we started building a cardboard house. The next day was a nightmare. I absolutely had to write and do an interview during the day. There were lots of interruptions and our work plan went to pot. We did have a long talk and I explained I didn’t really know what I was doing, that I was winging it — and she promised to do her part to help.” Sam Strangeways, the Investigations Editor, said she had mostly remained at home with her children since March 14. She said: “Trying to homeschool and focus on work is extremely tough, especially with small children. They need your attention, they need help with online schooling, reading and other work, and they need to have fun and lots of exercise. She added: “I was impressed with the teacher for finding a way to still have a class and even that limited social contact was good.” Ms Strangeways said: “Social-distancing is so necessary for everyone right now because of the risk of community spread. So it is about keeping everyone safe, especially the elderly and those with ill health.”

paragraphTwo senior police officers have passed the course to qualify them for the Commissioner of Police job

Assistant Commissioner of Police Antoine Daniels and Superintendent Na’imah Astwood passed the strategic command course run by the UK College of Policing in Coventry with distinction — the highest grade. John Rankin, the Governor, said: “The fact that both graduated with distinction from what I know is a demanding course is huge testament, first and foremost, to their abilities and leadership skills. It is also confirmation of the qualities in the members of the Bermuda Police Service which I have seen throughout my term in office as Governor, and which continue to stand Bermuda in good stead.” Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley added that the two joined Deputy Commissioner of Police Darrin Simons as qualified for the top role in the service. Mr Daniels achieved a distinction on the same course last year. He added all three officers had “performed exceptionally well against the most talented senior officers from the UK and overseas. Mr Corbishley said: “I look forward to ACOP Daniels and Superintendent Astwood bringing back their developed leadership skills and experience to the BPS.”

paragraphAs New York City went into lockdown on Friday with more than 4,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 34 deaths, Susan Wakefield was scrambling to find needed medication

“I called the doctor yesterday and left a message. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get it, ”said the Bermudian who left in 2012 for Long Island, where she works with a charity that helps medically vulnerable children. While she doesn’t need the medications to save her life, she does need them for symptom management. Her solution to ease her anxiety? Gardening. She feels that getting fresh air and digging in the earth will help. “I just bought some top soil,” Ms Wakefield said. “An old neighbour let me know that our town hardware store would be closing soon. I went to them yesterday, the first time out of the house in about five days. Their door was locked. I was told to knock and they would come to serve me. I told them what I wanted and gave them cash and they told me to drive to the back and someone would put it in my trunk.” She described life during the pandemic as “surreal” and “unnerving”. Although Long Island is known for its traffic, the streets are now empty. “Last week was hard because every time you turned the TV on or off, something would change,” Ms Wakefield said. Rowan Hallett lives in Italy, the country most affected by coronavirus so far. More than 4,000 deaths have been recorded and 47,000 infections, despite a nationwide lockdown. 

Ms Hallett said people were dying because there just weren’t enough hospital beds, ventilators and medical workers to cope. “Where I am is still very much on the outskirts of the worst of this, so I don’t really have any first-hand experience,” she said from her home in La Morra, which sits in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. Whenever she leaves home she has to carry a form that confirms her identity and explains why she is out. “In the event that someone is stopped for a spot check the validity of this motivation will be assessed and, if found inadequate, the person will be fined,” she said. Should shopping be her reason for being in public she has to prove she’s out to buy necessities. A make-up run, for example, will get her sent back home. Ms Hallett, who has worked for a university in the area since 2014, said there were rumors that further restrictions would be placed on everything from how long you walked your dog, to which grocery store you used, to the number of people authorized to leave the house. She’s expecting things will not change for the better anytime soon; her office is closed until May 25. “So I get the sense that this will not fade out any time soon,” she said, adding that ultimately, it is a sense of community that gets people through crisis. 

She’s helping the children of five families in the building she lives in, tutoring them online in English. “I think people tend to let the list of things you can’t do scare them out of thinking of creative things you can do to help each other out,” she said. Carika Weldon, a genetic research scientist at the University of Oxford, was visiting a friend in Nigeria when the crisis really started to hit last week. “Right now you can’t tell there’s a pandemic going on,” Dr Weldon said of her experience in the capital city, Abuja. “People here know about it, but it’s not affected daily life.” At the time of our interview, there were eight confirmed cases of coronavirus in Nigeria, with everyone affected in Lagos. “Nigeria has banned travellers from 13 countries including the UK,” Dr Weldon said. She felt nervous about heading back to England where she felt many people were infected and didn’t know it, and where food might be in short supply. 

Covid-19 was a nightmare revisited for Gerri Crockwell who suffered with the Hong Kong flu in 1970. She’s in Spain now as she was then, when she was the sickest she’s ever been. “I do realise that this virus is different,” said Ms Crockwell. As of Friday, the country listed 19,980 confirmed infections and more than 1,000 deaths. So far, there are no confirmed cases in Ms Crockwell’s village of Ojen in Andalusia. “People are generally respecting the lockdown guidelines,” she said. “So I am reasonably comfortable so far.” She said things haven’t been particularly bad for her. She chats often with friends in the village, but she likes her own company. An amateur photographer, she’s using the time to organise her photos of Spain and Bermuda. “I am fortunate that I have a nice terrace with a gorgeous view,” she said. “I walk out every morning to see how the day breaks — love it.” As far as food goes she is well stocked, with fresh produce and meat. Of greater concern to her is Bermuda, particularly the economic fall out when the pandemic is over.

The Bermuda Olympic Association said it is “in favour” of the Olympic Games being postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic

Australia and Canada both decided to withdraw from the Games today while the British Olympic Association has said it is unlikely to send a team to Tokyo if the Games are held this summer. “The Bermuda Olympic Association today announced that, whilst it will support the decision of the International Olympic Committee regarding the status of the Tokyo 2020 Games, with uncertainty regarding the duration and ongoing impact of the Covid-19 health crisis, it is in favour of the postponement of Games,” a BOA statement read. "The safety of athletes, coaches, support personnel and their families is of the utmost importance.” The International Olympic Committee has given itself four weeks to decide on the future of the Games, although it has been widely reported that a postponement is imminent.

paragraphA west end nature reserve is to get a makeover

The Bermuda Audubon Society said a “major restoration project” at the Somerset Long Bay Nature Reserve was launched to tackle vines and cow cane that had overrun the reserve. Karen Border, the society’s president, said in the winter to spring newsletter, published earlier this month: “Sadly, the vines had completely smothered and killed a number of mature trees on the south side of the reserve, including black mangrove, red mulberry and hackberry. In phase one of the project, the vines and dead trees have been removed, surviving trees have been cleared of vines and the cow cane has been cut down. A number of other invasive species such as Chinese fan palms and Pride of India, have also been removed.” Ms Border added the first phase of the project was carried out by Horsfield Landscaping backed by volunteers, who also helped to clear bottles and trash from the site. She said: “Phase two of the project will involve the removal of the cow cane tubers to prevent re-growth followed by extensive replanting. A maintenance programme will be put in place to ensure the invasive species do not take over again — the society will be looking for a sponsor to meet the costs of maintenance.” Ms Border added: “The reserve will remain a wildlife refuge, with restricted access, but the pond can be viewed from the perimeter fence.” The Somerset Long Bay Nature Reserve was taken over by the Audubon Society in the early 1970s. The organisation restored a marsh on the site that was filled in with garbage in the early 20th century. Ms Border said: “The society re-excavated the pond, leaving islands where healthy stands of mangrove had survived. After the pond was deepened in 1979 to prevent it being choked by Sheathed Paspalum grass, it developed a rich freshwater marsh community. Because of its location on the north-west tip of Bermuda, newly arrived migrants, including rarities, are often first spotted here.” Moorhens, coots, pied-billed grebes and yellow-crowned night herons have all nested in the reserve and purple gallinule are often seen in the area.

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March 22, Sunday

paragraphBermuda now has six cases of Covid-19, Premier David Burt said tonight

He added four new cases had been detected on top of two earlier ones. He said there had been three new cases that came in from overseas and one of those had passed the coronavirus on to a family member. He said none of the new cases had needed hospitalisation. Mr Burt warned that the number of Covid-19 cases would continue to rise and ordered most retail stores and the cinemas to shut their doors. A total of 13 new tests were carried out today along with 17 yesterday and the results were awaited. He said 11 tests for the virus had been carried out on Friday and that 10 were negative and one positive. Mr Burt was speaking as he delivered an update on the Covid-19 pandemic at the Cabinet Office. He said 1,400 people in the hotel industry had been laid off as a result of the pandemic. More to follow.

paragraphStaff at the Department of Social Services will work from home until April 6, the Government announced today

A spokeswoman said: “The reception cashiers’ area will be closed to the public during this time. “A skeleton crew of staff will be present in the office to answer queries by telephone.” The Officer of the Tax Commissioner will also be closed, except for the receipt of documents in its drop-off box. A spokeswoman for the Tax Commissioner said: “We encourage all taxpayers to make payments through e-tax or through online banking.” She added tax officials would assist people who needed help to set up electronic payment services. The social services department issued guidelines to be in place until April 6:

Pension Benefits:

War Veteran Benefits:

Paying Social Insurance Contributions:

For more information, call 292-9242 on Tuesdays and Thursdays or e-mail the following addresses:

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March 21

paragraphThe health minister today slapped closure orders on a string of places and events to cut the spread of Covid-19

Kim Wilson used public health laws to shut down schools, gyms, beauty salons, spas, barbers’ shops and church services, with the exception of funerals. Organised sports activities and concerts with more than 50 people have also been outlawed until further notice. The ban will also cover swimming pools in hotels and other guest accommodation like Airbnb properties. A Government spokeswoman said: “The closure notice is in an effort to reduce possible community spread of the Covid-19 — coronavirus — pandemic. Failure to follow the ban will mean a $1,000 fine for the first offence, with three months in jail for conviction or a $5,000 fine or both for further offences. A $500 a day penalty will also be imposed for continuing offences. The spokeswoman added that quarantine measures were now enforceable under public health regulations. She said: “The measure of self-quarantine is an important and significant step to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.” Penalties for breach of quarantine include a fine of up to $6,000 for a first offence, and $10,000 for a second, or three months’ imprisonment.

paragraphThe health system could be “overwhelmed” if the public fails to follow quarantine and isolation rules, the Bermuda Hospitals Board’s chief of staff warned today. Michael Richmond said that the BHB backed “decisive action” by the Government to limit the spread of Covid-19. However, he added: “The community must adhere to these restrictions, abide by quarantine and isolation rules, or else the healthcare system could be overwhelmed as has happened in countries such as Italy. The BHB is doing everything in its power to prepare for increased demand. But we have limits. If we as a community do not control the spread of Covid-19, the numbers of critically ill patients could rise precipitously and the ability for the healthcare system to support those who are most critically ill will be put at risk.” The warning came as the BHB announced further restrictions at its hospitals and departments. A spokeswoman for the BHB said that people who had to visit the Emergency Department should come by themselves, if possible, and should bring only a single companion “if essential. This is to reduce the number of people in the waiting room, and help emergency patients, who are more likely to be in an at-risk group, to maintain a physical distance from each other while they wait. Parents who are seeking treatment for themselves are advised not to bring their children with them.” The spokeswoman said that people should not visit patients other that in “exceptional circumstances, such as newborns — the mother’s partner or one close relative or friend if there is no partner — unwell children — parents only, or people near the end of life”. She added that other outpatient services were being “critically reviewed with the aim of only seeing people in person by exception. All other patients will either have appointments postponed if they are stable, or offered a remote consultation, for example, by phone. People with outpatient appointments will be contacted directly about what will happen.” She added that elective hyperbaric treatments, used for divers with the bends and sometimes for wound care, had been suspended and that BHB was looking at closing down the service “even to emergency treatments. These are mostly diving accidents, but the oxygen from the hyperbaric chamber will be needed if multiple people with Covid-19 need ventilator and/or oxygen support in the hospital.” Diagnostic and lab tests are by appointment only and urgent tests had been prioritized over routine ones. Dr Richmond said that the measures were designed to limit opportunities for Covid-19 to spread by a reduction in foot traffic and a cut in the number of people in waiting rooms. He added: “This supports physical distancing that, along with hand washing and not touching your eyes, nose or mouth, are key ways people can protect themselves and their families.”

paragraphSoldiers from the Royal Bermuda Regiment have mobilized at the airport to help returned residents disembark and transport those who need quarantined outside their homes to special accommodation. Sergeant Giovanni Lema, a member of the RBR’s Motor Transport section, drove one of the buses used to ferry passengers off some of the last planes to arrive on the island before the airport shut down to most flights at midnight last night. Sergeant Lema, 35, speaking from the airport, said: “We’re providing transport using Public Transportation Board buses for people who may need it from the airport to where they’re staying and helping keep passengers moving quickly through the terminal using the Regimental Police.” He added only ten people were allowed through at a time and social distancing was enforced. The father-of-two, a carpenter in civilian life, said: “I think people have been encouraged to see us. No one has been rude or abusive — they see us as protection. Seeing us has given them a bit of comfort. People are relieved to be home and happy we’re there. I think we’ve helped take some of the stress off them when they finally got here.” Sergeant Lema is part of a partial RBR embodiment of about 60 soldiers, a mix of full-time staff and part-time soldiers. He admitted it was hard to leave wife Michelle, his son, aged 5, and daughter, aged 3 at home in Warwick when he reported for duty at Warwick Camp. He said: “it’s always tough leaving your family and your loved ones not knowing when you will be home. Even after you’re dismissed, you have to think about whether you will have to self-quarantine.” Sergeant Lema added the troops on transport duty all “kept an eye on each other and on our health to make sure if anything does change, we can address it”. But he said: “You do what you have to do for the protection of the people we’re here to serve.” Sergeant Lema added: “I’m a healthy person, so I don’t have too much to be concerned about — I would be more worried about taking something home to my family. But we’re getting on with the job, just like we always do.” Major Ben Beasley, the RBR’s Commanding Officer designate, said the troops were called in under the direction of the Ministry of National Security. He added: “No matter the national emergency, for more than 50 years the Regiment has been relied on to put the needs of others before themselves and this spirit is as evident today as it has ever been.” Major Beasley added: “Our role is to provide a flexible and adaptable resource to the Government and the people of Bermuda in times of crisis. This is an unprecedented challenge for the country, but we stand ready to provide back-up to support the normal functioning of our country. The Regiment’s troops lean into a challenge, especially when the stakes are high. The extensive training that we conduct, the exercises overseas, the rigorous command courses, all of these elements come together to create an agile force that protects Bermuda’s interests on land and sea.” Major Beasley said the RBR’s notice to move time was reduced to 48 hours last Friday and all soldiers are now on 24 hours notice to move as preparation for a possible full embodiment. He added: “We are better trained and equipped to deal with emergencies than ever before and the civil authorities and the public should be assured that we will do everything in our power to assist should the coronavirus crisis worsen. We work closely with other departments so there is familiarity when the challenge arises.” Major Beasley said that commanders had been instructed to carry out a dry run of the mobilisation process to confirm the wellbeing of soldiers and their families and establish likely personnel numbers. He added: “All training weekends, drill nights, and social events have been cancelled, in line with government guidance, to protect the health of our troops as much as possible.” Major Beasley said: “We are grateful to the families and employers of our soldiers for the support that allows our military to function because those loved ones and companies have once again put the needs of others before their own. Our soldiers’ sacrifice comes at a cost to them too and that is never taken for granted.”  He added that soldiers and members of the public should continue to follow government guidance posted at https://www.gov.bm/coronavirus.

paragraphAn emergency flight set up to get US citizens in Bermuda home today has been cancelled. A WestJet flight from Toronto to Bermuda to bring Bermudians home and transport Canadians back which was scheduled for today has also been cancelled. A Government spokesman said that the New York air traffic control centre had suspended airport approach and departure control services — which meant planes could not operate in Bermuda airspace. He explained: “This service, which is essential for flights to safely arrive and depart from Bermuda, has resulted in today’s Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta to Bermuda being cancelled.” The spokesman said it was expected the New York control centre would be back in operation by 7.30pm. But he added: “This is not certain and the Bermuda Airport Authority is coordinating with the Federal Aviation Administration for the latest updates.” A spokeswoman for the US Consulate in Bermuda said: “Today’s Delta flight has been cancelled — it has not been postponed or rescheduled. The Consulate is unaware of any additional flights being added at this time.” She added that people should monitor the websites of airlines and Bermuda airport operators Skyport for updated information. The news came after the US Consulate said this morning that today’s emergency flight to the US would be the only one until further notice for American citizens who wanted to go home. The consulate said earlier that four relief Delta flights to Atlanta had been organised from yesterday until Tuesday, with Bermudians in the US able to return today. A government spokesman said earlier that it was “critically important that only Bermudian citizens and legal residents book these flights and carry the necessary documentation for entry into Bermuda”. He added: “Individuals that are neither citizens nor legal residents of Bermuda will be denied entry into the country.” Bermudians who want to come home and US nationals who want to return were told to book a seat at Delta.com or by using the FlyDelta app. The flights were organised after negotiations that involved the Bermuda Government, airport operators Skyport and the United States Consulate. A spokesman for the tourism and transport ministry said any flight crews arriving from Atlanta would remain on board the planes when they are on the tarmac. Zane DeSilva, the tourism and transport minister, said the situation in the US “mirrors that of Canada, with many nationals stranded outside their home country and unable to secure a flight back home”. Ms Dierman said the US Consulate had fielded “a moderately low volume of calls and e-mails from Americans requesting information about their options.  Many are following information posted on websites, social media, and government announcements. The Government of Bermuda has been working around the clock to provide as much information as possible to the public about Covid-19. The protective measures that have been put in place help protect all those in Bermuda from the spread of the virus. I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to the many government officials, health professionals, immigration officers, and private citizens who have been working together around the clock to address Covid-19 to ensure the health and safety of all in Bermuda.” She added Americans should sign up for the Smart Traveller Enrolment Programme to get security updates at https://step.state.gov/ The Consulate also posts regular updates on its website at bm.usconsulate.gov and social media sites Facebook.com/usconshamilton and twitter.com/usconshamilton.

paragraphCustoms officers have held talks with the Government over on-the-job safety, the Minister of National Security said yesterday. Wayne Caines said that efforts had been made to alleviate concerns which caused customs officers to walk off the job on Wednesday night after the first Bermuda coronavirus cases were confirmed. Airport staff and union officials met outside the airport again yesterday morning. Mr Caines said: “The customs officers have legitimate concerns. The ministry has heard the concerns. One of the main challenges is at the arrival counter — the arrival counter needs to have something to protect the customs officers. We have spoken to the Ministry of Health and they have given us clear guidelines and they have shared with us everything that can be done for social-distancing, making sure when the arrivals come that they are a specific distance from the customs officers. We believe that we are doing everything possible to make sure that they are protected.” Mr Caines said the ministry had also been in discussions with prison officers. He said: “On Thursday, we issued clear guidelines for corrections officers. We believe if they follow the cleaning regimes and wear the appropriate gear that they will be safe. These are ongoing talks. We want to make sure everyone understands that, number one, we take these things seriously. We will continue to make these environments as safe as possible for all of the people within our ministry.”

paragraphA Bermudian scientist in England yesterday said her genetics research could reduce Covid-19 diagnosis from days to hours and help save lives. Carika Weldon, a researcher at Oxford Genomics Centre, part of Oxford University Hospitals, said: “For me the main concern has been the long wait in Bermuda for testing — five to six days.” Dr Weldon is working on nanopore sequencing in ribonucleic acid, RNA, a substance found in all living cells that acts as a messenger carrying instructions from DNA. She explained that with a process of extraction and examination of the RNA from a patient sample, Covid-19 test time could be reduced from days to five to six hours. Dr Weldon said: “I just wish I could have helped with diagnosis in Bermuda.” She added: “All the steps of how the test is conducted are what I teach in my science outreach. This whole situation has really brought to light how urgently Bermuda needs human genetics research on island.” She added this type of research is still relatively new but has been used for diagnosis in some labs in China. Dr Weldon said: “The delay in diagnosis means infected people don’t know for sure for longer. If they are isolated in the meantime that’s great, but if not, they could have spread it far and wide.” Dr Weldon said Covid-19 was not difficult to identify because researchers had isolated its sequence in January and passed the results around the world. She explained: “This is why the test kits can be developed because the sequence is fully known.” Dr Weldon said she was not sure if high summer temperatures would reduce the number of Covid-19 cases. She added: “I’ve seen reports that the virus doesn’t like heat, but I’ve yet to see any hard evidence. From what I’ve read, the virus isn’t stable in high temperatures above 122F, so it may be that summer helps. But only time will tell.” Dr Weldon said there might be a vaccine available by the end of the year. She added: “Human trials have started. These need to last a couple months to see the effect of the vaccine. That takes us to summer. Once it’s shown to work, there are more regulations it must go through before it’s widely available. Most predict the end of the year for this to be done.” Dr Weldon was speaking from Abuja, Nigeria, where she is visiting a friend. She added she will have to wait and if she will be able to fly back to her home in Oxford on Sunday.

paragraphOpinion. By Cheryl Packwood,  the former Overseas Representative for the Government of Bermuda in Washington. She lived in the Ivory Coast, where she was practised law and was part of the pioneering of GSM telephony on the African continent. "No, I am not afraid. I am absolutely terrified. The breakdown in the economy is frightening enough and when and how we come out of it is very much a daunting question. If our leaders are not hyperventilating yet, they should be. We are a service-dependent economy, whether we like it or not. We do need to think and execute on plans to make our economy a more substantive endeavor that is sustainable and not dependent completely on the whims and health of others. But what terrifies most is beyond an economic crash, which can impact us for years to come. I am not afraid of catching the virus or even dying. I am terrified of an eventual breakdown of civil society and what makes us human. 

Just a month ago, I made a pilgrimage to Ghana to attend the burial of a university friend. Maybe 800 or more people were in attendance for my remarkable friend of 40 years. We shared ourselves and our love freely. Eighteen days ago I was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at Harvard, at an alumni board meeting and gathering. We met. Then we sang and danced and communed. We hugged. We watched a student musical parody at the Law School. We expressed our love for each other and we exchanged ideas and thoughts on all things not virus over pizza, chicken wings and a few drinks until the wee hours of the morning like we used to back in the day. I have watched the world close down since my sojourn of friendship to Ghana and that marvelous weekend of friendship in Cambridge. Businesses are operating remotely en masse. Schools and universities are closed. Conferences are being cancelled all over the world. The theatres on Broadway have gone dark. 

The Metropolitan museum and her sister museums have shut their doors to the public worldwide. Bars and restaurants are closed around the globe. Birthday parties and even funerals are being cancelled. We cannot meet in groups larger than ten. But many of us are not meeting at all. I have a virtual date on Sunday evening with my friends, Charles and Josephine, to have dinner. We are all trying to keep in touch by phone, text and social media. Can we survive this for two weeks, two months or even 18 months as predicted? We need to eat. Apparently, we also need mountains of toilet paper. What we also very much need is human touch and companionship. We need sport. We need rivalry. We need art and music. We need to dance together. We need to see our family, our friends, even those we think we do not like. All this is what makes us human. We are isolated like never before and this isolation could go on for a very long and inhumane length of time. Our loss of what makes us human is what terrifies me the most."

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March 20

paragraphUK. BBC News. Leisure centres, pubs, recreational  facilities and restaurants told to shut in virus fight. See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51981653. A separate report stated that all cafes, pubs, restaurants, nightclubs, hospitality, theatres, cinemas, are to close tonight. 

paragraphGovernments in the USA, UK, France. Germany, Belgium, Italy and beyond have pledged to either pay employees directly or subsidize employers to retain their employees. Firm promises have been made to avoid mass unemployment or wholesale redundancies in coronavirus affected countries. In the UK, a British Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was announced. Government there will foot the bill from general taxation to avoid layoffs. 

paragraphOn-island processing of tests for the potentially lethal coronavirus will start this week, the national security minister said yesterday. Wayne Caines said: “I do not know the exact time. I can tell you that we will have the ability within the not-too-distant future to commence testing on island.” Mr Caines added that he could not provide an up-to-date count on how many Covid-19 test kits had arrived. He said: “I can say that more tests have arrived on island. We can confirm and have for you at our next briefing how many the actual number of tests that have indeed arrived.” The Government said earlier this week that there were 90 test kits for the virus in Bermuda. The news came after David Burt, the Premier, announced on Wednesday that two residents had tested positive for the virus. He said that one had arrived on March 4 on American Airlines flight 308 from Miami and the other on a British Airways flight from London Gatwick on March 6. Mr Caines said that he could not provide specifics on when the two had been tested, or when the tests had been sent overseas for analysis, but that the results had arrived on Wednesday. Mr Caines added that health ministry workers had “their feet to the proverbial fire” as they responded to the crisis. He said: “What we have advised them to do is focus on planning, to focus on everything that we have going on. When it is the appropriate time, we will be able to sit down and give a clear briefing of the specifics of this particular matter. As you can imagine, we have limited resources. We want to make sure that the personnel are focused on going forward, protecting this country, protecting this community. We felt that the best uses of resources, at this moment, was to have them to focus on the task at hand.”

paragraphA special Covid-19 hotline has taken more than 100 calls since it opened yesterday. The news came as Kim Wilson, the health minister, toured the call centre and met its seven phone operators today. Ms Wilson said: “I was grateful to be able to meet the telephone operators today, watch them at work, and thank them for their efforts in fielding calls from members of the public. I was interested to hear about the nature of some of the calls - which range from health concerns, to travel advice, to questions about safe work environments. The service that these telephone operators provide goes beyond providing practical advice - they also offer a voice of comfort and reassurance for those who may feel particularly stressed by the current situation.” The hotline is open from 9am until 9pm every day on 444-2498.

paragraphThe completion of the deal to buy out Bermuda Commercial Bank will be delayed, probably into the summer. Somers Ltd, a financial-services investment holding company, agreed last year to sell BCB to Permanent Capital Holdings Ltd and last month the deal received necessary approvals from regulators. Somers said in a filing with the Bermuda Stock Exchange today: “With the recent extreme market volatility in global markets caused by the Covid-19 virus, Somers and Permanent have agreed that anticipated completion of the sale of BCB should be delayed until as soon as practicable, which could extend into the summer, when it is hoped that the global outlook will have improved and markets are more stable. Permanent has confirmed to Somers that they remain committed to completing the acquisition of BCB. Somers will update shareholders once there is further clarity on an anticipated date of completion of the transaction.”

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March 19

paragraphPeople who have returned to Bermuda have been told it is vital to keep themselves quarantined. Quarantine advice from the Government includes:

paragraphWork permit holders whose children are returning to the island between today and tomorrow should immediately contact the department. The Ministry of National Security advised that the Department of Immigration is liaising with the airlines servicing the island to ensure they can return to Bermuda. An e-mail should be sent to the Chief Immigration Officer, Danette Ming, at dwming@gov.bm, and Assistant Chief Immigration Officer, Marita Grimes, at magrimes@gov.bm, with the following information:

paragraphExtra precautions were to be provided for customs officers at the airport after a walkout over Covid-19 concerns, the Minister of National Security said today. Wayne Caines explained last night that an inbound flight was on the tarmac when staff stopped work over “concerns around where the people come in at the customs area”. He said today that there was a “difficult set of circumstances” at the airport after staff learnt — alongside the rest of Bermuda — about the island’s first two confirmed cases of the virus yesterday. Mr Caines added that the concerns of all staff who interact with the public were taken “very seriously. The customs officers directly highlighted those concerns to me. I spoke with the deputy collector of customs, he reached out to a local vendor. The local vendor is going to fabricate something that comes directly over that will cover the customs officers as they conduct their operations. That is significant and that is not something that we take lightly. The person that is fabricating has given us a time frame, we’re asking him to accelerate it.” Mr Caines added: “In the meantime we’re going to give the customs officers other precautions [so] that they can safely operate and execute their duties.” LF Wade International Airport will close for incoming passengers flights tomorrow night, for a two-week period. All returning residents must fill out a self-declaration form — and all travellers arriving on the island will be subject to a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. Returning residents can complete their forms online at forms.gov.bm/covid19, for a swifter arrivals process. The minister said he believed that some of the staff did not attend work this morning but that their roles were filled by senior members of the customs department, boosted by Department of Immigration employees. He added: “We don’t bear any ill will or malice to the officers that were concerned.” Mr Caines said that no customs officers or airport staff had shown symptoms of Covid-19 since the flights on March 4 and 6 that carried the two people with positive Covid-19 test results. He added: “We’re going to make all the helping services available to the customs staff or anyone that has been customer facing that they can get the necessary medical attention if they so desire.”

paragraphVisits to correctional facilities are on hold to help limit the spread of Covid-19, the Minister of National Security said today. Wayne Caines added that a plan for jails was to be given to the Prison Officers Association for members to provide feedback. He told a press conference this afternoon: “Visiting at the Department of Corrections has ended.” Mr Caines explained that the Commissioner of Corrections gave a presentation to the Emergency Measures Organisation meeting earlier today. The minister added that he asked for the plan to be provided to the POA so that representatives could point out any “gaps”. Mr Caines, who declined to provide details about the proposals publicly, said: “We realise that there are concerns. “I have seen the plan. I would like for the Prison Officers Association to look at the plan and if they feel that it’s not strong or good enough for them, to share what we can do as a team, a collectorate, working together to make it better.” Timothy Seon, the head of the POA, could not be contacted for comment.

paragraphAt least six hotels will be shuttered this weekend because of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. Cambridge Beaches in Sandys and the Hamilton Princess will close on a temporary basis on Saturday night and Elbow Beach in Paget and The Reefs in Southampton will shut from Sunday. The Rosedon Hotel in Pembroke suspended operations yesterday, while the Grotto Bay Beach Resort will close on Friday afternoon. Guests who were due to arrive at island resorts were offered the chance to reschedule or cancel, with deposits in most cases held over for future bookings. David Dodwell Jr, general manager of The Reefs, said: “We want to do everything we can to protect the safety of our guests and staff. We hope to reopen upon the ending of the self-quarantine period on April 1. However, this may depend on any further restrictions or available airline service, which could impact the ability for our guests to visit and enjoy our well-known Bermuda hospitality. “We are working with all of our affected guests and offering them the ability to cancel or rebook to a later date at no charge. At this time, we are doing everything we can to support our amazing team members who are all impacted by this very difficult decision and the current travel climate.” 

Stephen Todd, the chief executive officer of the Bermuda Hotel Association, said yesterday that the closures were a “direct result” of the Government’s requirement for all arrivals from March 17 to self-quarantine for two weeks. Mr Todd added that the BHA supported the Government’s “proactive approach” to minimising the effects of Covid-19. He added: “This is a quite unique situation and not like anything we’ve previously seen.” Mr Todd said: “Through the board of directors at the Bermuda Hotel Association and through our wider membership, we are looking at the overall impact to our industry colleagues. We are not able to provide employment opportunities to the majority of our colleagues so we are looking to see, from a property to property standpoint, how we can support them. We also want to work with the Bermuda Government, wider industry partners and the financial institutions because we believe that some relief needs to be provided on behalf of all interested parties.” Nik Bhola, the general manager at Coral Beach and Tennis Club, said that the resort’s room operations had “pretty much come to a halt” although food and drink operations remained open. Mr Bhola said that the resort would have “ramped up” at this time of year and its team had been looking forward to the Bermuda Breeze tennis tournament and United States Tennis Association’s exhibition, all postponed because of the virus spread. 

He explained: “We have seen cancellations as a result of that. We were looking forward to a busy club and the start of our season, and rolling into Easter, which is obviously a busy time for us as well.” He added that weddings scheduled at the venue for next month had been moved to the autumn. Mr Bhola said maintenance teams and cleaning staff at the resort were busy, but “unfortunately the work isn’t there” for staff members in other departments. He added that some people were “on layoff, they’re not on full schedules”. Mr Bhola was confident the sector can bounce back. He said: “At our club, most people have postponed their trip, they’re quite happy to reschedule their visits, but they’re not canceling.” The Hamilton Princess announced this afternoon that it would “cease normal operations” from 5pm on Saturday until May 15. A spokeswoman said: “This decision will be regularly reviewed based on the ever changing environment and developments. This decision was not made lightly but has been made with the wellbeing of our guests, colleagues at the forefront, and the wider Bermuda community. We have committed to covering total health insurance payments for all our colleagues.” A message on the Elbow Beach website said it would close from Sunday until May 6. It added: “On any existing guest reservations, we would like to offer a one-year rollover allowing you to keep your deposit on the books for travel one year from your original travel date.” 

Clarence Hofheins, the general manager at Cambridge Beaches, told guests: “Lodging, restaurant, and spa services will remain open for those guests currently lodging at Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa, until the evening of Saturday, March 21.” Mr Hofheins said that the resort would reopen once the mandatory 14-day quarantine for arrivals ended. He added: “We are in close communications with our employees and we are assisting them through this challenging time.” A letter posted on the Fairmont Southampton website told guests: “We want you to have the opportunity to experience the true magic of Bermuda. Please contact us to reschedule, or cancel, your stay with us.” At The Reefs, customers were told online that “additional flexibility” was available for guests who needed to change their plans. The Rosewood Bermuda told its guests about the required quarantine 14-day period for arrivals from March 17. It said: “Bermuda health personnel will be in communication with guests during this period to monitor guest health and status. Special arrangements will be made such as in-room dining fulfilment in order to ensure guests are cared for while maintaining the safety of all guests and associates. Guests showing no symptoms after the 14-day self-quarantine period will be permitted to move freely on the island.” 

The website added: “For reservations booked with travel between March 17 and March 31, 2020, guests may rebook without a fee for up to 12 months, and any deposits will be applied to future reservations.” Pompano Beach Club said on its website: “With the coronavirus crisis affecting us all in one way or another, if you should decide to cancel a stay that is scheduled to take place prior to May 15, 2020, the resort will either issue you a full refund of your advance deposit/prepayment or allow you to transfer it to a future reservation, without any penalties.”

paragraphPeople unemployed because of Covid-19 could be helped by an emergency unemployment benefit scheme, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport said yesterday. Lovitta Foggo said that a task force had been set up to implement the programme. She explained: “We appreciate that these are unprecedented and uncertain times, particularly for employees who may be facing unemployment due to business closures. So this government is trying to be sensitive to the needs and hardship that our residents may face.” Ms Foggo said: “To be clear, this unemployment benefit is not intended to be a substitute for financial assistance. The proposed period for this unemployment benefit is three months, after which workers may apply for financial assistance. The policy will be administered through the Department of Workforce Development.” Ms Foggo added that details were being finalised, but the aim was to make sure that the scheme was operational by Monday, when she will provide an update. The minister also praised Riihiluoma’s Flying Colours gift shop in Hamilton for the social conscience it showed, despite the business impact of Covid-19 which forced the store to shut down temporarily, for ensuring that laid-off workers still had health insurance. Ms Foggo said that kind of action would help everyone manage the crisis and asked other employers to do all that they could to assist their staff.

paragraphTwo men have been arrested after a shooting that killed one man and injured another. Police said 18 shots were fired in the area surrounding the junction of Court Street and Elliott Street, where Clarke Fox, 28, was wounded on Tuesday at about 2.45pm and died overnight in hospital. Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley said that a woman police officer was only ten feet away from “the individuals that pulled the trigger”. He added: “The thing that shocks me is the fact this took place in broad daylight, in public, with indiscriminate firing. Some of the cartridges indicated they potentially hit cars. This is not the Wild West, not a Hollywood movie — this is life.” He added that police had recovered a motorcycle thought to have been used in the incident. Mr Corbishley said at Hamilton Police Station yesterday: “There are men not far away from here that are extremely dangerous to the fabric of our community — not least when we have such significant challenges in organising Bermuda to address the current threat of coronavirus. I do think some people do not think, do not care, but I hope they worry, because we will bring them into custody.” 

He said he had spoken to the dead man’s mother and that it was “not the first tragedy that her family has faced”. Mr Corbishley said he had “promised her we will do everything to bring those responsible to justice”. He added that police were working on the theory the shooting was gang-related. Mr Corbishley said: “It’s easy to make a guess, but I genuinely do believe this is a dispute between gang members. That’s part of our inquiry certainly in regards to the persons targeted and the offenders.” Anyone with information on the shooting to call the main police number, 295-0011, or the confidential and anonymous Crime Stoppers hotline, 800-8477.

paragraphButterfield Bank is to automatically defer all residential mortgage and personal loan payments for the next three months to help customers through financial difficulties caused by the Covid-19 crisis. The bank will also introduce a payment deferral on credit cards for April and May, meaning customers can skip their next two monthly payments without incurring any late fees. In a statement, the bank said: “Butterfield will introduce a three-month automatic payment deferral programme on all residential mortgages and personal loans in good standing, meaning customers will not be making principal and interest payments for the next three months and any penalties will be waived. This will assist customers who may be facing lower incomes or cash inflow at this time.” Butterfield added that business customers with a remaining loan principal of up to $2 million who are facing difficulties can pay interest only on their next three monthly loan payments with no penalties. “Business and corporate clients with loan values greater than $2 million who wish to discuss credit and payment arrangements should contact their relationship managers, as these arrangements are typically more complex,” the bank added. Michael Neff, Butterfield’s managing director, Bermuda, said: “The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on tourism and hospitality, and its knock-on effect on employment has been sudden and significant. We understand that the situation will make it difficult for some of our customers to service their outstanding debts. 

To make things easier for families and businesses, and to help the local economy recover more quickly post-crisis, Butterfield is taking these urgent, substantive steps to ease the financial pressures on customers in Bermuda. We are working as quickly as possible to implement these changes, and we are here to support our customers throughout this crisis and beyond. We encourage anyone facing financial challenges to reach out to us so we can work on solutions together. We will continue to review these initiatives and will provide timely updates to customers.” Customers covered by these arrangements should understand that interest on the outstanding balance at the contractual interest rate, payable during the payment deferral period [where no loan or interest payments are being made] will be added to the outstanding principal and will result in extension of loan terms. Therefore, the total amount of interest paid over the lifetime of the loan will increase as a result of payment deferral. Those customers who wish to maintain their current payment schedules and amounts are asked to contact their relationship managers or the bank’s consumer credit department on 298-4799.

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March 18

paragraphBermuda’s first two cases of Covid-19 were diagnosed at about 4pm today, it was revealed tonight. One of the two residents had travelled from the UK and the other from the US and the cases are unconnected. Both became ill three days after their return to the island. Neither required hospitalization, but both are in isolation. One traveler arrived on March 4 on American Airlines flight 308 and the other arrived on British Airways flight 2233 on March 6. Self-monitoring ends today for passengers from the March 4 flight, while monitoring will for passengers on the BA flight until Friday. Anyone who travelled on either flight who becomes unwell should contact their doctor. Mr Burt warned possibly ill people not to attend either doctor’s offices or the hospital without contacting them first. 

The Premier also announced a 12-hour Covid-19 hotline at 444.-2498, to start tomorrow from 9am to 9pm, for residents to call with queries or concerns. The announcement of Bermuda’s first Covid-19 cases came earlier tonight. Mr Burt said: “The Ministry of Health is working closely with other ministries across the Government to rapidly investigate this situation and to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. Our chief concern is how many people had close contact with the individuals once symptoms developed.” Health officials are investigating those people who may have been in contact with the two patients. The Emergency Measures Organisation met at 7pm today to discuss the next steps. Bermuda has 90 test kits for the virus. Mr Burt said he could not confirm earlier reports that 800 test kits were being brought to the island, but he said that more were on route. He added a public health order had been issued to compel people told to quarantine to remain away from others. Mr Burt said changes had been added to containment legislation brought to the House of Assembly on Monday and that these additions had been put into effect. He added several containment measures had been taken including:

Mr Burt said: “I want to reassure the public that the Government has been actively preparing for an event like this as part of the international health regulations. “Thankfully we will have the ability to screen for Covid-19 on island tomorrow which will aid us in controlling any spread of this virus.” More details to follow.

paragraphNew restrictions on blood donations have been put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic — but new donors are still needed. The Bermuda Hospitals Board said people cannot donate blood if they have either been to an area with an outbreak of Covid-19 in the past 28 days or lived with someone diagnosed with, or suspected of being infected with Covid-19 over the same period. Anyone with a confirmed case of Covid-19 will be banned from blood donation until 56 days after they have made a full recovery. A Bermuda Hospitals Board spokeswoman said: “Our screening measures are evolving in line with public health recommendations and the changing dynamics of the Covid-19 outbreak. We ask donors who have recently travelled outside of Bermuda to call 236-5067 when booking their appointment to confirm they are eligible. These measures help ensure our donor centre remains an area of wellness within Bermuda’s health system — the Blood Donor Centre is not a place where sick people gather. We urge all healthy eligible donors to book and keep appointments. Patients depend on these life-saving donations. Every day, blood products are needed for patients undergoing surgery, cancer treatments and to save lives following traumas. To help every patient, we require the ongoing generosity and commitment of donors.” The spokeswoman said it was safe to donate blood in Bermuda and all donors were screened for any symptoms of illness. She added: “This screening occurs during both appointment booking and upon arrival at the donor centre. Those with any symptoms are not allowed to donate blood and are instructed not to visit.”

paragraphThe Minister of Finance and the Leader of the Opposition responded to steps taken by banks to help customers financially impacted by Covid-19. Butterfield Bank is to automatically defer all residential mortgage and personal loan payments for the next three months. It will also introduce a payment deferral on credit cards for April and May, meaning customers can skip their next two monthly payments without incurring any late fees. Clarien Bank is to temporarily waive some late payment fees and customers were encouraged to contact the bank to discuss other options to help them through the economic disruption. Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, explained: “As I said earlier this week, this Government takes its responsibility seriously to assist the most vulnerable in our community. We are taking proactive steps to help provide appropriate financial assistance to Bermudians and to protect our Island’s economy during this difficult time. We have had discussions with our key stakeholders concerning appropriate actions they should take to assist the people of Bermuda, and I have reviewed the announcement made today by Butterfield Bank. I am encouraged to see that they are offering relief to their clients during this challenging time. I am optimistic that other service providers will also consider the needs of our community and act accordingly.” Craig Cannonier, the One Bermuda Alliance leader, said: “I am relieved to see the steps that both Clarien Bank and The Bank of NT Butterfield have taken to provide some economic relief to our community, during these unprecedented times. We note that coronavirus relief legislation is being passed in every country. It is important that Bermuda offers to its people the same level of relief that is being offered around the globe. To that end, we applaud the steps taken by the local banks, and hope that any and all relief that is offered by the Federal Reserve Bank and passed on to our local banks, is, in turn, passed down to our businesses and residents. It is equally important that all the banks be uniform in their approach, so that the community is afforded a level playing field in terms of the economic relief offered.” He added: “We must continue to positively collaborate as a country, while we maneuver through this pandemic, with the end goal being that economic recovery will be available to all.”

paragraphLegislation to up the cost of immigration fees has been approved by the House of Assembly. Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, said the 5 per cent increase would mean almost $1 million in additional revenue. Mr Dickinson said: “This is to ensure there is reasonable cost recovery for the provision of the various enhanced services offered by the Department of Immigration. “Based on the general increase of 5 per cent, the overall financial impact of these revision is estimated to be an increase in yield of between $800,000 and $900,000.” 

paragraphThe House of Assembly approved amendments to the Health Insurance Amendment Act at its sitting last Friday. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said the amendments would double the time insurers had to pay the mutual reinsurance fund premium into the fund from 30 days to 60. The legislation will also require the companies to provide a daily list of who they cover to the Health Insurance Committee. Ms Wilson said the changes would improve the efficiency of the Health Insurance Amendment Act 2019, which came into effect on June 1 last year. Last year’s amendment was drawn up to allow the Government to pay an annual grant to the Bermuda Hospitals and replaced the fee-for-service arrangement. Ms Wilson said: “Early in the transitional period of the change, the insurers requested an extended time to pay the mutual reinsurance fund premium as they believe they needed more than the legislated 30-day deadline. “They needed more time to reconcile their books before they could make the payment to the MRF.” Ms Wilson added that she used her powers as minister to temporarily extend the deadline and the 60-day limit has been a success. She said the requirement for insurers to provide their eligibility lists every day would not be a problem because the companies already supplied them on a daily basis to the hospitals board. Ms Wilson said: “So for them to also provide it to HIC would not be a duplication of effort. It will also ensure that the numbers reflect the amount that is being paid for on a daily basis.

paragraphBermuda’s courts have limited access to courtrooms and suspended some services in response to coronavirus concerns. The Supreme Court Registrar circulated a notice to attorneys which said: “With the increasing worldwide concern regarding the spread of the coronavirus, it is imperative that the Judiciary implement precautionary measures so as to ensure the health, safety and welfare of members of the public who interface with the courts of Bermuda, as well as court staff.” The message, which was also posted on the doors of the Dame Lois Browne-Evans building, said that the swearing of affidavits, certifying of copies and criminal record checks have been all suspended until further notice. It warned that appearances before the Supreme Court will be “limited”. The registrar said: “Lawyers are encouraged to strongly consider whether matters listed for a substantive hearing or trial over the course of the upcoming four weeks may be re-listed for hearing at another date. Parties should make every effort to seek an agreement as it relates to matters concerning case management and to file a consent order to that effect, thus avoiding the need for parties to appear.” The Supreme Court will also stagger matters to be heard in Chambers to limit the number of people in the court. Regarding Magistrates’ Court matters, the court will give requests for adjournment for health issues consideration. The registrar said: “The court should be made aware of such requests as soon as practicable before the scheduled date. No new matters or enforcement proceedings shall be filed or scheduled unless the urgency of the matter requires it such as domestic violence protection order applications, bail applications or child protection matters. Lawyers, parties or witnesses in court proceedings should not expect that their matters will be heard or will have a return/mention date scheduled unless the urgency of the matter requires such.” Access to the courts will also be limited to those involved in the cases and the media. The registrar said: “Observers or supporters will not be allowed in the courtroom. Parents and guardians of juveniles are allowed to accompany them to court. Members of the public shall not loiter or remain in any court unless they are waiting to be heard in court proceedings or are awaiting assistance from a court associate.” Those who attend Magistrates’ Court to pay fines, child support or judgment debts are asked to go directly to the cashier’s window and then leave, and are encouraged to pay by card instead of cash. The notice also instructed those attending court to sanitize their hands and said the Government has increased its efforts to sanitize the court facilities.

paragraphShipping companies in Bermuda have taken special measures in a bid to keep their crews and ships free of the Covid-19 virus, and to ensure that the pipeline of food and other essential goods to the island remains open. Steps include extending the service time of crews to limit the number of people who work on the ships, canceling shore leave, restricting access to the ships to only those who must go aboard, as well as vigorous sanitization regimes, and practising social distancing. Should a particular port close, Bermuda-bound vessels would have other options, shipping executives said. Barry Brewer is the president and chief executive of Neptune Group Ltd, operators of Bermuda Container Line Ltd, which operates the MV Oleander. The ship, which makes a weekly run from Port Elizabeth, New Jersey to the island, arrived on Monday with 215 containers, which Mr Brewer said was a 20 per cent increase in volume, year-over-year. “That is probably reflective of restocking efforts,” he said. The Oleander operates with 14 crew who normally work a 12-week shift before taking 12 weeks off while a second crew replaces them. Crew members, who are from Poland, Ukraine and Philippines, generally return home to visit their families once their shift is complete. “The crew has been asked to stay on, to extend their service time, and we will review later in the summer,” Mr Brewer said. BCL is limiting who can go aboard the ships, Mr Brewer said, while also canceling shore leave. The measures are intended to “reduce opportunities for the virus to get on board the ship”, Mr Brewer said. US ports are likely to remain open, he added. “The reality is that the US needs to import goods like everyone else to feed their people,” Mr Brewer said. “Keeping ports open is critical for them. Our belief is that the US will focus on ports remaining open, and we have seen nothing contrary to that.” If a port does close, Mr Brewer said ships could instead begin their voyage from Halifax in Canada, or from US ports Boston, Norfolk, Baltimore, Charleston or Jacksonville. “If one port is closed, those other ports should be open,” he said. “We could put the vessel into several different ports.” Mr Brewer said he was among invitees to a “very, very good meeting” hosted by the Government on Monday at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. There, representatives of the island’s three shipping lines were asked about their contingency plans, while wholesalers and retailers were questioned about the state of their stocks, Mr Brewer said. Tjerk Neijmeijer is president and chief executive officer of Container Ship Management, which operates the Somers Isles container ship that makes the round trip to Bermuda three times monthly from Fernandina Beach, Florida. The ship will next arrive on Tuesday. Aside from having no crew changes, canceling shore leave, and restricting access, Mr Neijmeijer said half of staff members at the company’s Florida office are working from home, with the other half in the office, while in Bermuda one person is working permanently from home. The Somers Isles has seven crew working on contracts ranging from six months to a year, Mr Neijmeijer said, while officers work eight-week contracts. The most recent crew member to join the ship did so five weeks ago. “They are all stuck on the vessel for the foreseeable future,” Mr Neijmeijer said. “They have been instructed not to leave the vessel while it is in port. The agent, and a customs officer, come on board but they are meeting on the poop deck outside the structure of the ship.” Mr Neijmeijer said it was “highly unlikely” that US ports will close. He added: “There might be individual ports that close depending on stevedores being able to work the ships, but we will cross that bridge if and when it shows up.” George Butterfield is vice-president, freight, at Meyer Agencies, agents for the Bermuda Islander container ship, which sails weekly from Salem, New Jersey, arriving on Thursdays. The ship is operated by Bermuda International Shipping Ltd. Mr Butterfield said: “Presently, BISL’s first concern is to keep the crew and vessel safe. Part of our contingency plans consist of not having any crew transfers and not allowing the crew members to come ashore. Any visits to the ship by authorities are conducted outside on the poop deck. Since the port of Salem is a small privately-owned port, it’s unlikely that it would close. As the port only services the Bermuda Islander, it can be easily monitored by US authorities. If by some slim chance it does, we can easily move anywhere along the eastern seaboard.” Mr Butterfield said there has not been an increase in the number of containers making the voyage, but added “we are prepared to handle any additional cargo should the need arise”. Mr Brewer said the three vessels that serve Bermuda generally operate at 50 per cent capacity. “Bermuda has capacity in terms of shipping,” he said, “and we have options.”

paragraphA new association designed to reunite old comrades from the Royal Bermuda Regiment and promote service in the military has been launched. Major Preston Gill, the president of the Royal Bermuda Regiment Association, said the organisation was designed to promote, foster and maintain the traditions and well-being of the Regiment and its predecessors through the perpetuation of the comradeship of members and former members. Major Gill, a serving soldier, added: “A total of 11,900 people have served in the Regiment and we weren’t capturing all that post-Regiment experience.” But he said: “We also want to focus on the Junior Leaders, the future, the currently serving, as well as veterans. The purpose is to enhance the camaraderie among serving members and develop that for the future.” Major Gill was speaking as members of the RBRA executive visited the military side-chapel at the Anglican Cathedral in Hamilton to help publicize the new organisation. Gavin Rayner, a former Regimental Sergeant Major, who retired in 2015 and who is treasurer and RSM of the association, said: “An organisation like this has been in a lot of people’s minds for a long time and for someone like Mr Gill to put something on paper.” Mr Rayner, who works for drinks suppliers Burrows Lightbourn, added: “I jumped at the chance to be involved. It just gives back to the battalion. It brings together a lot of the former members on a bigger scale than what is currently available. Additionally, it’s an opportunity to incorporate junior ranks for networking and to be of assistance to soldiers still serving.” The organisers said the RBRA was not an official part of the RBR, but had its approval and expected to work closely with it in the future. Major Gill said: “We want people to continue to experience that feeling of camaraderie, help with recruitment and encourage former members to rejoin the RBR.” He added honorary membership was open to residents who were veterans of other services and Bermudians who had served in overseas units. Major Gill said: “The key thing is to promote the welfare of private soldiers in the RBR and offer assistance if and when they leave the Regiment. Former Sergeant Peter Aldrich, a business consultant, added: “Like many others, despite my feelings of being conscripted at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed my service. Mr Aldrich, who served from 1985-91, said: “I still deeply appreciate and value the friendships that I made and the experiences that I had in the Regiment; all of which helped shape the person I am today for which I am extremely grateful. The Regiment continues to be a common thread that brings together all walks of life for the common goal of military service for one’s country, which Bermuda should be proud of.” Roderick Spencer, an ex-Colour Sergeant who served from 1985 to 2002, added: “I’m still friends with a lot of ex-Senior Non Commissioned Officers, mess members and soldiers who served under me. Mr Spencer, an entrepreneur as well as chief information officer at wholesalers Butterfield & Vallis, said: “A lot of them miss the friendships that were created and the opportunities that were created and we want to reward them for their years of service.” Former Sergeant Bill Davidson, the compliance manager at a professional services firm, added: “I learned a lot from the Regiment and owe them a lot and this is an opportunity to give back. I’ve always been impressed by the shared experience of the RBR and this is a way to formalize that common experience. We can help each other, the community and soldiers who are still serving. We’re not the RBR, we’re an organisation that supports the RBR.” Major William Madeiros, the chairman of the Defence Board, said the board backed the association to the hilt. He added: “It’s an excellent idea as we continue looking for reasons and benefits of association with the Regiment – the association is one of those benefits. It’s a fantastic idea and, on behalf of the board, we wish Major Gill and the rest of the team every success. Major Gill has done an excellent job liaising with myself and the Honorary Colonel David Gibbons and we are happy to endorse the association.” For more information or to join the RBRA, email regimentassociation@gmail.com.

paragraphA gift shop set up to cater to the tourist trade has become a victim of the Covid-19 pandemic. Riihiluoma’s Flying Colours on Queen Street, Hamilton, has laid off 11 full-time staff on a temporary basis and closed its doors. The owners of the shop said it would remain closed until the crisis was over. Sarah Fields, co-owner of the shop with Fraser Hunt, said they had a “Plan A and a Plan B”, but once the 14-day quarantine plan was announced, “we felt we had to skip to Plan B”. Ms Fields declined to reveal the business’s monthly payroll, but said it was “too much to be able to make it to the end of this crisis”. The store will continue to pay employees’ health insurance over the layoff. Ms Fields said the co-owners were “hoping for a more gentle process” than the 14-day quarantine plan, but added that “another part of me is very grateful that the Government acted as decisively as they did”. She said: “I believe we should all be at home self-isolating, and that’s my plan.” Staff were told about the layoffs on Monday, a day after the Government announced that anyone arriving on the island would be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine rules followed the suspension of some cruise ship visits to the island. The co-owners said in a joint statement: “Flying Colours’ clients are primarily visitors who arrive by air or cruise ship. “With the rapid developments in the Covid-19 outbreak having led to the cruise industry’s suspension of services and the implementation of a compulsory 14-day quarantine for those arriving by air, the prospects for our business during the health crisis are poor. We are a tourist-focused shop that will have no customers. Given the extreme speed at which the Covid-19 situation has developed in Bermuda and globally, we were forced to make some very difficult decisions very quickly. We determined that the only viable way forward is to close our doors for the duration of this health crisis in order to be in a position to reopen when the situation improves. The statement added: “We are exploring every option to assist our long-serving employees and their families during this difficult time. We will keep our staff on health insurance. We are hopeful that, with these measures, we can help our valued employees and that we will be able to welcome them back when Flying Colours is able to reopen to serve visitors.”

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March 17

paragraphThe Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has now advised all UK-based British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This includes advice to Bermudians traveling abroad who, in the event of any difficulty should contact their nearest British consulate or embassy. This advice takes effect immediately and applies initially for a period of 30 days. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. All countries may restrict travel without notice. If you now need to change or cancel your travel plans, follow these steps:

For those abroad, including Bermuda. The FCO will continue to update FCO Travel Advice pages with relevant information. Check  travel advice for your location regularly and sign-up to email alerts. You must follow the advice of local authorities. Your safety and security is the responsibility of the local authority where you are. If you wish to leave the country you are in, contact your airline or travel company and your insurance provider as soon as you are able, and keep up to date with the latest developments. International travel may become more difficult. We only organise assisted departure in exceptional circumstances.

Quarantine while you are abroad. If the local authority where you are proposes to quarantine you for your own protection, you should follow their advice. When you are abroad, your safety and security is their responsibility. If there are suspected cases of coronavirus where you are, you may need to remain in your hotel room or accommodation for 14 days, move to quarantine facilities, take tests for coronavirus and, if positive in some cases, be hospitalized abroad. You should also contact your airline or travel company, and your insurance provider as soon as you can. We only organise assisted departure in exceptional circumstances.

If your travel is essential. Follow our checklist before you travel:

Get travel insurance.  Make sure you have appropriate insurance for overseas travel, and purchase it as soon as you book your travel. You should check the detail of your travel insurance to see what it covers, and contact your insurance provider if you have any questions. You may need to consider a specialist policy. It’s your responsibility to make sure you’re covered. Read our guidance on purchasing insurance. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has published information on the travel insurance implications of coronavirus.

Entry restrictions. Many countries and territories have introduced screening measures (temperature checks, health/travel questions, quarantine) and entry restrictions at border crossings and transport hubs. If you have recently been in a country affected by the virus you may need to be quarantined, or you may not be allowed to enter or travel through a third country. If you decide to travel, contact the local immigration authorities or the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country you’re travelling to.

Travel advice and consular support. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice.  Constantly under review, so that it reflects our latest assessment of risks to British people. Find out more about how our travel advice works.

Consular help. The FCO publishes all its Travel Advice on GOV.UK. FCO consular officers cannot provide any additional information by phone. Read more about the consular support we provide.

International cruises.  If you are planning to go on a cruise, be aware a COVID-19 outbreak on board is possible, and your travel may be disrupted. If you are aged 70 and over, or if you have underlying health conditions, we advise you against cruise ship travel at this time. Find out more in our cruise ship travel guidance. The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) has adopted an enhanced member health policy which all CLIA ocean member cruise lines must follow. It includes guidance on who should be permitted to board cruise ships. If you are due to travel on an international cruise, contact your travel company for the latest information.

International education trips. The UK government advises against all overseas education trips for children under 18 until further notice. Read the Department for Education guidance.

Latest health advice. See the latest NHS guidance on coronavirus for the current situation in the UK and abroad. The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) has also produced general advice on preparing for foreign travel and how everyone can reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.

paragraphImmigration legislation to tackle the problem of mixed-status families and to give status to children born overseas to Bermudian parents was approved yesterday. The measures were passed with support from both sides of the House of Assembly — but Opposition MPs from the bipartisan committee on immigration reform said they were disappointed that the legislation was not retroactive. MPs from the ruling Progressive Labour Party and the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance highlighted the controversial history of the island’s immigration policy. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said the first legislation to make changes should not affect Bermudians and would tackle problems in ways that would not lead to the separation of families. He added the changes would “assure Bermudians a place of primacy in their homeland”. Ben Smith, an OBA MP and member of the immigration committee, told the House he looked forward to “getting back to work” on “the next phase”. Mr Smith added: “There are some exciting parts that I know Bermuda is going to be interested in.” Sylvan Richards, the Shadow Minister of Home Affairs and the Environment, said the road to the legislation had been “long and winding”. Mr Richards added that the lack of a retroactive element was “unfortunate”. Christopher Famous, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher and also a committee member, spoke about the demonstrations that blocked Parliament four years ago over the OBA government’s Pathways to Status legislation. He said: “People marched because they remembered that immigration was used to propel those that arrived in Bermuda, primarily from the UK, ahead of those who lived here for centuries.” Leah Scott, the deputy Opposition leader, told the House that she had been granted Bermuda status in 2007 as a long-term resident. Ms Scott said Mr Caines had been “crestfallen” by some of the delays to the legislation, which was put on hold in July last year. She added: “I am a bit disappointed it’s not retroactive. It’s selfish. I have a granddaughter that I would like to see get Bermuda status.” Some children of permanent resident’s certificate holders obtained their parents’ status while others did not under earlier legislation. Renée Ming, a PLP backbencher and another member of the bipartisan committee set up in 2016, said the group had learnt and evolved together on a topic that “can bring out the best in us and, at times, can bring out our worst as well”. She added: “This committee and our government has the opportunity to change that. The bipartisan committee was a step in the right direction.” Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker, said immigration was “a very sensitive, emotive topic for all Bermudians. When you’re trying to get laws in place to do with immigration, it’s not an easy one. It’s never going to be easy, particularly with our history.” Mr Burgess said the legislation would also allow children of permanent resident’s certificate holders — a category introduced by the PLP — to obtain PRC status.

paragraphResidents have been urged to inform police of their travel history and any flu symptoms before officers visit their home. Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, announced a series of precautionary measures put in place by the Bermuda Police Service in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Corbishley said: “If the situation warrants that an officer comes to your residence, we urge you to inform the officer you speak with on the phone, whether any occupant has been diagnosed as having Covid-19, any occupant has recently returned from overseas travel or any occupant has displayed symptoms of cold or flu. Officers responding to calls will, in the interest of public and personal safety, maintain a safe social distance during questioning or recording of information. This is for the good of both you and the officer.” He added: “Your Bermuda Police Service stands ready to assist in these uncertain times and will maintain the highest standards of policing that you have come to expect from us. We urge you to do your part in helping us to do so, by please following these guidelines.” Residents should use 911 for all emergencies. For non-emergency inquiries call 295-0011. Do not visit police stations to make a report unless the matter is of a serious nature. People are told to use hand sanitiser stations at the entrances of police stations. Doors and countertops will be regularly disinfected.

paragraphThe Risk and Insurance Management Society’s annual conference, which traditionally attracts a strong contingent from Bermuda, has been cancelled for the first time in the event’s 70-year history. The event was due to take place on May 3 to 6 in Denver, Colorado. Organisers sent out a message today saying they made the decision to cancel, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, “with a heavy heart.  As we moved through our own risk management process, assessed the facts, analyzed the data and carefully calculated the outcomes of a range of scenarios, it became abundantly clear that this was the best decision for our members, our conference participants, and our employees,” Rims said in a statement today.

paragraphTwo men were injured in a daylight shooting on Court Street, Hamilton this afternoon. Both of the victims were taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in a private vehicle, but the extent of their injuries remains unknown. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, called for “calm in the community”. He said the public felt “strain and anxiety and uncertainty of a deadly pandemic that is sweeping the globe”, and that police were tackling the early stages of an investigation. Mr Caines added: “The absolute last thing Bermuda needs is an onset of senseless gun violence and antisocial behaviour.” He said that the country needed to come together and support one another, not “engage in destructive behaviour”. Ben Smith, the shadow minister, said it was “unbelievable that people engage in these acts that add an extra layer of anxiety on our already anxious population and even more strain on our emergency services”. Mr Smith said the time had come for a common aim to “help Bermuda weather this storm”. He added: “I always condemn all acts of violence, but given the situation we find ourselves in today, this is beyond belief. “This must stop — and we must do all we can to help the police find the culprits as soon as possible.” Detective Inspector Kenton Trott said police received reports of multiple gunshots in the area at about 2.45pm. A police spokesman described suspects as two males on a red and black motorcycle. The rider was described as wearing dark clothing and a dark helmet, while the pillion passenger was said to be wearing dark coloured clothing and a white helmet. Mr Trott added: “They would have travelled south along Court Street, then turned around and went north down Court Street before turning west on Angle Street. At this moment we are very early in the investigation so inquiries are ongoing. We are asking if anyone was in the area of Court Street, if you could please contact police on 295-0011 or 247-1739.” The confidential Crime Stoppers hotline can be reached at 800-8477 Officers this afternoon taped off a section of Court Street near the Spinning Wheel nightclub as they began their investigation. Several shell casings were visible in the road near the junction with Elliot Street. One car parked on the southbound side of the road had a shattered rear window, while a second had what appeared to be a gunshot in its rear window. Responding to the violence, David Steede, Senior Pastor for Hamilton Seventh-day Adventist Church: “In these unprecedented times in our country, it is imperative that we stand together as one. Any day now we could be impacted by an infectious virus that threatens to take the lives of many. The last thing we need is for us to be destroying each other. As a pastor in the City of Hamilton, I implore those involved to not use this critical time in the history of our country for vengeance, violence and vile behaviour. I admonish us with Jesus’s words to Peter in Matthew 26:52: ‘Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Let us remain calm during these difficult days that are before us.”

paragraphA classically Bermudian hotel has suspended operations and moved to takeaway service to slow the spread of Covid-19. The Rosedon Hotel relieved most of its staff and asked them to stay at home for the next 30 days as the island braces itself for the impact of the pandemic. A press release from the property, which runs the Huckleberry restaurant, said: “In an effort to help mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 virus and to protect our team members who are our most valuable asset, Rosedon Hotel will close all hotel operations on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. With the requirement of a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arriving passengers as of Tuesday, March 17, 2020, we believe the prudent thing to do is to temporarily cease hotel operations.” It explained that the restaurant would stop providing on-site dining tomorrow and a drive-through or takeout service called Huckleberry@Home will instead be offered daily from 11am until 8pm. The press release said: “In order to maintain safe ‘social distancing’ all guests will be required to remain in their vehicle or on their cycle while on property. Our team members will be utilizing safe distancing and sanitary procedures consistent with best practices to ensure that we can continue to deliver this service for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic. The majority of the Rosedon and Huckleberry team are being asked to stay at home for the next 30 days and to practice ‘social distancing’ and safe sanitary practices in order to be ready to return to work as soon as the pandemic passes. Rosedon Hotel will create a ‘healthy quarantine’ on-site with a number of our hotel and restaurant team who have volunteered to stay on property in a controlled environment. All team members who have volunteered to remain on property will be working to implement our Huckleberry@Home concept as expeditiously and safely as possible.” Rob Bruni, the hotel’s assistant general manager, told The Royal Gazette that about five guests occupied three rooms today with one due to leave tonight. He explained that other guests said they expected to leave earlier than originally planned but that dining and other hotel services would remain available to them until their departure. Mr Bruni said: “We did have other bookings and we were very proactive in the past few days, the past week, reaching out to those guests, letting them know that this may be a concern.” He added that many guests took heed of the warning and cancelled their reservations. The hotel employs a staff of about 50 and the press release explained that for those who were asked to remain at home “where applicable, they will be working remotely and participating in online training in order to make the most of their time away from the property”. It added: “In keeping with our commitment to ethical leadership, all staff have been guaranteed their regular wage through March 31, 2020 and are being encouraged to apply for two weeks of vacation time for the subsequent period through to April 14 in order to ensure that they do not face financial hardship in the midst of all of the other uncertainty that Covid-19 is causing.” Mr Bruni added that some employees were offered “safe housing” even if they were not actually working over the 30-day period.

paragraphThe Bermuda Breeze tennis tournament has been postponed because of the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus. The annual tournament was due to be held at Coral Beach and Tennis Club from March 30 to April 5. Organisers are following the guidelines of The United States Tennis Association and the International Tennis Federation, who have suspended all tournaments until further notice. A Coral Beach and Tennis Club statement read: “The health and safety of all the players, organisers, staff and spectators is our main priority. We will be closely monitoring the situation and collaborating with the USTA and ITF to find mutually beneficial dates in order to reschedule the tournament. We appreciate your understanding and we are hopeful that we will be able to host our tournament later on in 2020. Stay tuned. Thank you for planning on participating in our tournament and we hope to see you in Bermuda soon. Please stay safe.”

paragraphFlora Duffy admits that triathlon seems “trivial” when compared to the wider crisis at large amid the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus. Although Duffy was “devastated” by the decision to call off MS Amlin WTS Bermuda on Saturday, she said the bigger priority is to try and protect the island’s community from the pandemic. With more than 180,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 worldwide and about 7,000 deaths, the sport’s governing body has suspended all activities until April 30, including WTS Bermuda, which was due to be held from April 17 to 19. “It’s devastating because I love racing and love racing at home,” Duffy told The Royal Gazette. “I’m also sad for the community that has put so much effort into the making the race happen. I know it’s months and years of work. It’s really sad, but the bigger priority right now is stopping the spread of Covid-19 and keeping everyone safe. My thoughts are with everyone there and I’m just really hoping that Bermuda can be spared in some way.” Duffy was ruled out for eight months last season because of a career-threatening foot injury before making a superb return to competitive action, winning a fifth Xterra world title in Kapalua, Hawaii, in October. The two-times world champion was confident of carrying her strong form into the new season as she builds towards the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer, where she is expected to be among the medal contenders. However, with Covid-19 wiping out most of the world’s major sporting events, she remains “unsure of what the rest of the year will hold”. She added: “Sport and triathlon and trying to stay fit seems quite trivial. I’m just doing what I can to help limit the spread of the virus and I hope that’s everyone’s top priority right now. Every athlete around the world is in the same boat. Everyone is training and suffering, but that doesn’t seem important at all when people are fighting for their lives. It’s a case of taking it day by day, week by week and see how things unfold. We’ll see what happens. Maybe racing will resume in a few months.” Duffy, 32, is due to have stitches removed from her hand today after snapping a fifth metacarpal during training this month. However, with public swimming pools being closed in Stellenbosch, South Africa, because of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Bermudian is exploring alternative training options. “Thus far, the virus has not particularly affected my training at the moment, although it will by the end of the week,” she said. I have my stitches out tomorrow and I’m able to get back in the water; however, I’ve just received an e-mail to say the pools are all closed. Maybe I’ll have to look for an open-water swimming option. There’s plenty of dams here and I’ll look to see if any of the private pools are staying open.”

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March 16

paragraphHSBC Bermuda, Butterfield Bank and Clarien Bank are all lowering their base lending rates for business and retail customers. All three banks said they were making their moves to help customers with the likely negative economic impact from the Covid-19 crisis. Yesterday, the US central bank, the Federal Reserve dropped its influential federal funds rate by one percentage point in an emergency measure, less than two weeks after a half-point cut for similar reasons. HSBC Bermuda’s base lending rate for business clients will be reduced from 4.75 per cent to 4.25 per cent, while the base lending rate for retail customers will be reduced from 3.75 per cent to 3.5 per cent. The rate reductions are effective May 1, HSBC said. Butterfield’s base rate for Bermuda dollar residential mortgages and consumer loans will decrease half a percentage point to 4.75 per cent. The rate decrease on personal loans is effective today while the rate decrease on Bermuda residential mortgages “will become effective as soon as practically possible”, the bank said. Clarien Bank said its Bermuda dollar personal base lending rate will be reduced by half a percentage point to 4 per cent and its Bermuda dollar commercial base rate by half a percentage point to 4.25 per cent. Borrowers will be notified of the effective dates in accordance with the terms of their facility. HSBC Bermuda added: “Additionally, the bank would like to remind its customers to proactively contact their banking relationship manager or make an appointment with the retail team if they are experiencing financial difficulties due to the pandemic. The bank will review each case on an individual basis to determine the most appropriate way to support customers that are facing particular challenges.” Michael Neff, Butterfield’s managing director in Bermuda, said: “It is our intention, with this significant decrease in rates, to help ease the financial burden on personal banking and business customers whose income may be impacted by the potential decrease in local economic activity associated with the health crisis. The bank is additionally reviewing the fee schedules and payment terms of select other products and may make changes to provide additional relief to customers during this challenging period, including providing extensions on repayment of credit card balances. We want our customers to know that we are here to support them, and those who may find themselves in financial difficulty should not hesitate to reach out to us to discuss their situations. Doing our part to help protect the health of our community and keep our economy functioning is our priority.” Clarien Bank explained in a statement: “Governments and financial institutions around the globe are implementing measures to reduce the negative economic impact resulting from Covid-19 and to create financial stimulus where possible. As a result, we will be making adjustments to our personal and commercial base lending rates.” Clarien added that it was enacting its business continuity plans to ensure minimal disruption to its day-to-day business.

paragraphSeniors were warned to find ways of distancing themselves, even from loved ones, as the coronavirus pandemic appears to hit elderly patients with health problems worst. Charles Jeffers, the honorary director of Age Concern, said last night that seniors should consider “saying to their children and grandchildren, I know you love me — but it might be better if you didn’t come by”. Claudette Fleming, the executive director of the charity, has been in regular contact with Cheryl Peek-Ball, the Chief Medical Officer, as the pandemic unfolded globally. Mr Jeffers said: “Our stance has to be more reaction than action. All we can do as a preventive is to practise social-distancing and even have people not visit. If a senior knows their immune system has been compromised, call their families and advise that maybe they ought to make their contact by telephone or WhatsApp and social media. What can you do? With some diseases, it takes bodily contact. This does not. You can just be in the same space and pick it up.” The BBC reported yesterday that the Health Secretary in Britain, Matt Hancock, had said announcements were coming advising every Briton aged 70 and older to stay at home long-term to protect themselves. Mr Jeffers called the prospect “a very, very sad thing”, but said the elderly needed to “take stock of their situation. The key thing is being aware of your surroundings,” he said. “You might have to tell someone not to visit you, and to call on the phone instead.”

paragraphThe chief executive officer of a telecoms holding company has advised consumers to avoid cash transactions in light of the threat posed by Covid-19. Frank Amaral, the boss at One Communications, wrote to the company’s customers to advise that the firm is “taking every precaution to safeguard our customers, employees and business operations”. Acknowledging that One’s business involved face-to-face interactions with the public, he encouraged customers to consider several recommendations. In the letter, he wrote: “Avoid cash transactions in-store whenever possible. We strongly recommend this for our seniors.” Mr Amaral encouraged customers to make payments online via their bank or One’s website, and suggested that customers sign up for auto debit payments. For enquiries or service plan changes, consider going online at website onecomm.bm by completing a form, using our chat feature, or by calling our call centre on 700.7000 for mobile services and 700.7300 for home services,” he wrote. He advised customers to monitor updates from the World Health Organisation, Centre for Disease Control and the Bermuda Government. Mr Amaral said “having in place a comprehensive infection prevention and business continuity plan is critical at this time”. He said One Communications has enacted the following protocols:

Mr Amaral concluded: “We will continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust our plans when needed. We thank you for your co-operation at this time.”

paragraphA funeral procession in honour of a former Bermuda Industrial Union vice-president was held in Hamilton yesterday. Family, friends and colleagues paid their tributes to Glenn Simmons, who died on March 3, aged 67. Signs on public buses brought out for the funeral remembered Mr Simmons, who headed the union’s bus operators and allied workers division. The procession from Union Square headed through the streets at 1.30pm to the service at the Hamilton Seventh-day Adventist Church on King Street. Premier David Burt was among those who contributed written tributes. The Premier said Mr Simmons “strived for long-term victory, not just short-term gain. To anyone who spoke to, marched or campaigned with, or even joked with Glenn, it was very clear that he had an eloquent and simple truth in life: ‘Treat people with justice!’” Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition, wrote: “He was a stalwart of the community, a sportsman and an activist who always put Bermuda and Bermudians first.” Zane DeSilva, the transport minister, said he had grown up in the West End with Mr Simmons, who had supported him when some viewed his political convictions with suspicion. In a BIU statement, Mr Simmons was hailed as “a big brother to some of the staff and a younger brother to others”. The People’s Campaign activist group statement said Mr Simmons had attended their “every meeting. He assumed a leadership role without instruction or appointment.” The Bermuda Public Services Union offered condolences to his family and wife, Maxine, writing: “He possessed a great sense of humour and a love of laughter with a deep-rooted sense of social justice and commitment to the BIU.” The Bermuda Union of Teachers said the island had “lost an ambassador; the trade union movement has lost a stalwart. Many of us have lost a friend.” He was saluted as “a staunch advocate for the Bermuda people” by the Bermuda Entertainment Union, while the Bermuda Hotel Association commended his “energy, enthusiasm and professionalism”. Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton, called Mr Simmons “a friend to the city, a man who stood in the front line for workers’ rights”. A Somerset Cricket Club statement called him “a lifelong friend”, a footballer for Somerset who represented the island in golf and “never forgot his friends”. After the service, mourners travelled by bus to Mr Simmons’s burial at Emmanuel Methodist Church, Southampton, and union members later paid respects at the BIU headquarters.

paragraphIlona Perry still can’t wrap her head around the unexpected honour she received at the beginning of the year. Gourmand International placed her cookbook at the top of its list of vegan offerings in 2020. The Bermudian, whose sole claim to cooking was that she could, wrote Veganize It! only to document how she had transformed typical Bermudian dishes to suit a diet that was vegan, off and on, for about ten years. The book took about 12 months to put together and has been available for sale since last autumn. In January, Ms Perry was notified of her win. “Somebody nominated me for it. I’ve no idea who. I went online and found out that for cooking, the award is the same as the Oscars are for films. I think they have an awards ceremony at a food fair in Paris in June. I don’t know who did it for me but I am really excited that they did.” The idea for Veganize It! came from a neighborhood friend in Los Angeles where she and her husband, Bayard Outerbridge, moved a decade ago, so he could pursue a film career. With a potluck dinner to attend, the Bermudian couple was eager to introduce Americans to a local tradition, cassava pie, the friend encouraged her to veganise it. "At first I thought it was going to be impossible. I had already changed many other recipes, but this one was so egg and dairy-heavy. I had waxed poetic about cassava pie so much that he told me that if anyone could do it, I could. So I decided to give it a shot.” After “many experiments and strange results” she ended up with something she was pleased with; her husband agreed it was close to the real deal. “It was really hard. I tried so many versions that either came out like caramel or really brown. The one I finally decided on is not as yellow [as the traditional dish] because it lacks egg yolk, but it tastes the same.” Baked macaroni and cheese, Hoppin’ John and “fishless” chowder are some of the other Bermudian favourites she transformed. She also threw in dishes that were representative of her Cuban and Portuguese heritage — all without ever having a formal cooking lesson. “My family had a restaurant in Palm Beach, Florida and they pretty much taught me how to cook, but I am not a professional by any means,” she said. “A lot of it was trial and error, I also stole a page from how other people were veganise their traditional foods. I tried to make it as simple as possible. No one wants to spend two hours to make a meal, not when you’ve got other things to do with your time.” Aquafaba, the liquid left over from cooked chickpeas, has become a kitchen staple. It becomes like an egg white; you can actually eat it. I have eaten flans made with that and they were just incredible.” A vegetarian for many years, she is now 100 per cent vegan when at home and does her best to maintain the diet when elsewhere. “For me, it’s always been about compassion and health,” Ms Perry said. “My father passed away with a heart attack; pretty much everyone in my family has suffered from cancer or heart disease — you look for other ways of living, so that doesn’t happen to you. Plus, I love animals. I would never pay someone else to hurt them just so I could eat them.” Her decision to not eat meat wasn’t always accepted in her early days. “I got a lot of pushback. I think people feel they’re being judged by you, people are used to a certain way of doing things. In the past, vegan food has been pretty boring, all beans and rice, so I can understand why not many people were attracted to it. When I moved to LA, it all changed. Basically, I live in the vegan mecca; one of the biggest markets for vegan food in the world. Here the big trend is to take traditional food and create a vegan version. So we have vegan taxos, vegan creme brûlées, vegan schnitzels ... and it’s great cuisine.”

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March 15, Sunday

paragraphThe Government will fast-track new legislation tomorrow so that it can force arriving passengers to self-quarantine. Residents were also strongly advised today to cancel all non-essential travel as the Government tries to prevent a killer strain of coronavirus entering the island. David Burt, the Premier, said on Twitter this afternoon: “I will request to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, that both houses of Bermuda’s Legislature meet tomorrow to pass the laws required to give the @BdaGovernment the power to enforce the newly announced self-quarantine effective March 17.” The Government has also “strongly urged” passengers arriving from Britain, New York and Miami tonight to self-quarantine for the next 14 days, even before the new legislation takes effect. Passengers must complete a questionnaire setting out their travel history for the past two weeks. Mr Burt added: “Please all of Bermuda, for your friends returning from the UK this evening, now is not the time to ignore the warnings! We ALL have a role to play in minimising the risk to the vulnerable due to #COVID 19. Though it will not be legally enforceable until Tuesday, STAY HOME!” A Government spokeswoman pointed to “the rapidly changing global situation in respect of ports of entry and steps taken by most countries to protect their border”. The restrictions are expected to remain through the end of this month. Persons on quarantine will be contacted by health personnel, who will be the first point of contact in the event the person develops fever, cough or difficulty breathing. The Ministry of Health issued guidelines on how to quarantine, advising people under quarantine to separate themselves from people in their home. According to the document, in the event that a quarantined person falls ill, “you will be isolated and the members of your household must be quarantined”. Employers with quarantined staff were asked to “exercise sensitivity”, and not to require or knowingly allow workers to come to work if they have been required to self-quarantine. A worker in self-quarantine and who does not feel sick should be allowed to work from home, where possible. Agreed options such as paid sick leave should be considered. The requirement to self-quarantine will apply also to visitors to the island — but they will be able leave Bermuda whenever this wish, if they have no symptoms.

paragraphPhysicians, nurses and laboratory staff got a refresher on the use of personal protective equipment and infection prevention and control on Saturday, according to a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health. The training was given by infection prevention and control professionals at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and Ministry of Health staff. It included including the Department of Health’s senior medical officer Heather Armstrong and the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit’s nurse epidemiologist, Jennifer Wilson. The course was to prepare health workers in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Cheryl Peek-Ball, the chief medical officer, said the participants would be ready to “safely manage patients who are suspected of having the virus, collect specimens for testing, and could serve as a pool of professionals to assist with a centralized Covid-19 testing set-up”. The course had 15 participants.

paragraphBermuda is too small for signature schools to have a solitary focus, the education minister announced. Diallo Rabain said the island was “not of the scale” where planned signature, or specialized, schools would be able to concentrate on “one speciality”. He added: “All of our schools, we recognise, will have to have multiple things that our students will be able to get involved with — and you may have duplicates in various schools, depending on the amount of students that actually want to do that.” The comment came during debate on the budget for the Ministry of Education in the House of Assembly on Friday. Cole Simons, the shadow education minister, questioned Mr Rabain on how pupils would be instructed. He asked: “How are we going to determine within the signature schools what we’re going to offer? How are we going to arrive at the optimum curriculum that is going to be followed?” Mr Simons said: “These questions need to be answered so that, when it’s opened, we know it’s fit for purpose and that the community will embrace it.” He also asked Mr Rabain for the time frame to phase out middle schools and open signature schools. Mr Rabain said that all signature and specialist schools would have “core academic tracks”. The minister explained: “Everyone that goes to these schools, there will be a core track that they will have to follow in order to qualify to graduate. All of them will come out with a high school diploma — whether they engage in any of the speciality topics that are offered at the school or not.” He said that the schools would also have music, performing arts and physical education programmes. Mr Rabain said that the people of Bermuda had come up with the ideas for Plan 2022 — the Government’s blueprint for education. He added: “Now that we are getting ready to implement those long term, adaptive strategies, we need to be able to go back and say ‘What is it that you want? What is it you would like to see within our schools?’” Mr Rabain said that it was also “imperative” that educational changes “be in tune” with workforce development to support the needs of Bermuda’s job market in the years ahead. He added: “That is the type of data that will structure what needs to be offered within our schools, outside of the regular things that we know that we are going to need.” It was announced last week that international firm Innovation Unit Australia New Zealand had been selected to help rebuild the public education system. The contract will start later this month and run until at least the 2021-22 school year. Mr Rabain said “an estimated $950,000” had been budgeted for work by the firm this year. David Burt, the Premier, said last month that the pledge to phase out middle schools was the “signature promise” of the Government in its election platform in 2017. He added: “I am cognizant that I cannot go back to the polls unless I deliver on my signature promise.” Mr Burt added that he had been assured by Mr Rabain that the next school year would be “the last school year of our current system”.

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March 14

paragraphGatherings of more than 50 people should be avoided in an attempt to combat the spread of a potential killer strain of coronavirus, Premier David Burt said last night. Mr Burt said church leaders would be contacted on Monday with advice for the safety of their congregations as the island braces itself for the possible arrival of Covid-19. However, he advised churchgoers to avoid contact by “social distancing”. He added that government public events would be cancelled for the next four weeks and that a decision would be made in the next few days on government offices and schools. Mr Burt said it was possible the Easter break could be moved “a few weeks forward”. The announcement came after Kim Wilson, the health minister, imposed a travel ban on China, Iran, Italy and parts of South Korea on Thursday night under the Quarantine Act. The restrictions apply to anyone who had been in a listed country in the previous 14 days or since the start of the order and who were visitors to the island, not residents. Visitors from France, Germany and Spain will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine and travellers from the United States and Britain will be subject to “active self-monitoring” for 14 days. Mr Burt said that test kits for Covid-19 had been ordered but there would be no wide-scale testing on the island for “a few weeks” because of a global shortage of the equipment. The Government will use a private aircraft to collect kits as they become available and all tests will be covered under government insurance. Trinidad is the Caribbean regional centre for tests. Mr Burt said the US could not supply tests or kits due to pressure on the country’s health system from the virus. Extra equipment, including ventilators, has been ordered for King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. Mr Burt advised elderly and vulnerable people to stay at home where possible. The island remained free of confirmed cases of the virus yesterday and 45 people were self-monitoring. Twelve people have been tested for Covid-19 — eight have been given the all-clear and four await their results. The news came as a string of events were shelved, including the Carifta Games next month, which has been postponed. Ms Wilson earlier said that the travel exclusions were based on “sustained community spread of Covid-19”. Yesterday, the global death toll from Covid-19 passed the 5,000 mark. Cruise arrivals also took a hit as Norwegian Cruise Line started a voluntary suspension of all voyages between March 13 and April 11 for its three cruise brands. Mr Burt told the House of Assembly that Neptune Group, which runs Bermuda Container Lines, had confirmed weekly supply runs to Bermuda from New York would be maintained. He added that the volume of imports was up year-on-year, which suggested that “importers appear to be stocking and restocking certain items”. Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition, said the One Bermuda Alliance knew “for a fact” that travellers from banned countries had come through Bermuda’s airport after they caught flights in London. Mr Cannonier also told the House some customs officers were “not happy with some of the preventive measures at the airport”. He added there had been “some timidity on asking questions” of travellers. Mr Burt said no passengers were coming through unchecked and that travellers had to answer a questionnaire coming into the island. No passengers were allowed off a private jet that stopped at LF Wade International Airport on Thursday night en route from Zurich to Massachusetts and whose crew had a travel itinerary that included Italy. Glenn Jones, the interim chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said: “Coronavirus is damaging the tourism landscape globally and exerting significant impact on both our local industry stakeholders and our airline and cruise partners overseas. Our team is constantly measuring the scope of what’s happening in the short term and evaluating what it means for our destination. At the same time, we’re strategizing for a recovery. When the time for normalcy arrives, we want to be ready and we’ll be preparing our stakeholders for that moment as well.” The Government also issued a warning against price gouging — selling goods at an unfairly high price — during “times of national emergencies”. Those found guilty can be jailed for up to six months or fined $10,000. The pandemic has also had a knock-on effect on public events. The Bermuda Festival called off its final weekend of shows, Saltus Grammar School has cancelled school trips, and schools issued advisories to parents on stepping up hygiene. Saltus also announced preparations for remote learning in the event of a shutdown of the school and the Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation said that children or staff who had a high temperature should stay at home. Bermuda High School for Girls sent an e-mail to parents designed to quash rumors that staff members had been screened for Covid-19. Linda Parker, the head of school, said it was “categorically untrue”. She added that the school had two pupils off sick with influenza. The City of Hamilton said that normal services would continue and that the cleaning of fixtures such as pedestrian crossing buttons and car park pay stations had been increased.

paragraphLovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, has confirmed this morning that both the 39th Annual Sports Awards and the 36th Annual Premier’s Concert have both been postponed, and will not take place this weekend. This follows David Burt’s announcement yesterday that because of the concerns of Covid-19 and its associated health risks, major government public events would not take place for the next four weeks. The minister wants to ensure clarity regarding the postponement of the two events to prevent members of the public from attending either the Sports Awards or the Premier’s Concert venues this weekend. For ticket information regarding the Premier’s Concert, the public are encouraged to visit ptix.bm or ticket information. For the latest Bermuda Government official and up-to-date health and public services information and guidance regarding Covid-19/Coronavirus, visit website gov.bm.

paragraphNorwegian Cruise Line announced “suspension of all cruise voyages embarking between March 13 and April 11, 2020 for its three cruise brands”.

paragraph Bermuda has banned visitors from China, Iran, Italy, parts of South Korea, France, Germany and Spain because of the coronavirus.

paragraph The Carifta Games, scheduled to take place in Bermuda from April 10 to 13, have been postponed until further notice.

paragraphGovernment update on Saturday at noon: 14 people have been tested for Covid-19. 8 returned negative results. 6 results pending. 

paragraphGovernment has announced the following events have been postponed or cancelled as a result of the coronavirus

paragraphDaily Telegraph, London. British Airways, which exclusively serves Bermuda from the UK once daily, in a fight for survival, is in talks with unions about job cuts as Norwegian faces an anxious wait for a bailout and Lufthansa requests state help. British Airways warned the coronavirus pandemic has caused a crisis "of global proportions like no other we have known" as governments prepared to start bailing out cash-strapped airlines. Norwegian, Gatwick’s third-biggest airline, pleaded for an “immediate” handout after warning it was “within weeks” of collapse. Europe’s biggest airline Lufthansa confirmed it will seek “liquidity” as the EU relaxed state aid rules on Friday afternoon. It plans to ground two thirds of its 800 planes and axe 66 daily flights to the USA.

paragraphDaily Telegraph, London. UK travellers and all others with UK or British Overseas Territory (BOT) passports including Bermudians will need to join the same queue as other non-EU citizens, submitting to a physical passport inspection and will need to have their passports stamped each time they enter the EU after the Brexit transition period expires. British negotiators had requested that UK nationals should be allowed to use "EU citizens" lanes after January 1 next year but were told that was not possible, according to two sources with knowledge of the negotiations. As a result, UK and BOT travellers will need to join the same queue as other non-EU citizens, submitting to a physical passport inspection and receiving a passport stamp. It is understood that a UK request for nationals to use electronic e-gates was rejected because the EU's borderless Schengen zone does not currently have the technology to accommodate "third country" nationals.

paragraphA man has said he was given the all clear on a potential killer strain of coronavirus after he fell ill on a flight back to Bermuda — but was later told he was not screened for Covid-19 at all. The man, who returned on a flight from Miami on March 4 after visiting his home country, arrived in Bermuda with flu symptoms and was taken straight to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. He said he was told the next day by the health department that he had influenza — but was clear of Covid-19. However, a doctor at the hospital “backtracked” on Monday — after the man’s daughter and her mother back home had already ended self-imposed quarantine. The man, still at home on self-isolation, said: “My family had taken the responsibility of isolating themselves, based on my condition. I had spent time with my daughter while I was there, so they saw it fit to take those steps. As a result of that information from here, which was incorrect, they eased it up. My daughter went back to extracurricular activities.” Now his family have had to go back into isolation. The resident, who asked not to be named, said the hospital doctor told him on March 6, “they were comfortable saying I was negative for coronavirus. Now they are telling me on Monday that I was not screened for Covid-19. So we are back to square one.” He was not cleared of Covid-19 until Thursday night. The lack of a specific check was revealed after the man asked for a clean bill of health in writing. He said: “The doctor said on Monday he was no longer comfortable in giving me the records for my relatives because the screen they did on me only covered different strains of coronavirus and not Covid-19. He also told me that my samples did go overseas for testing as a result and they expected it back by this Friday. Because my first test came back positive for influenza A, and the fact that I had come from a low-risk country, that constituted a screen. Influenza A was detected, influenza B was not detected. Three or four coronavirus types were not detected. But they did not screen for Covid-19.” He said yesterday his condition was “much better, much improved”. The man added: “I’m staying in the house. I have a couple of friends that check up on me. When I do need something, they drop it off for me at my door and I get it after they’ve left. My landlord sounded very anxious. He has two small children. My family’s anxious about it — I have had a whole back and forth with my daughter and her mum.” A Bermuda Hospitals Board spokeswoman said the hospital, which is on “high alert”, could not discuss individual patients. She added: “The key is to ask questions about symptoms and understand potential risk exposures based on someone’s travel or exposure to someone who might have the new coronavirus. The risk of exposure is changing almost daily at the moment, and we follow closely what is happening globally and review advisories on overseas travel risks. Last week, the risk factors would have been different to today, for example, as anyone looking at the emerging US figures would recognise.” Tests for the virus are conducted overseas with a turnaround time of about five days. The spokeswoman added: “We hope that this will change in the coming weeks and we will be able to carry out the tests on the island resulting in a much quicker turnaround time. We, therefore, follow a risk-assessment protocol while results are sent away.” The spokeswoman said people with influenza, or who suspect they might have Covid-19, should isolate themselves. She added: “Even if Covid-19 is suspected, the individual will only be admitted if they require hospital treatment and they may be discharged to isolate at home with a follow up by the Department of Health. Eighty per cent of people will likely only have mild to no symptoms, so will not need hospital treatment. Only those with severe symptoms will need critical-care management as those will be the lives that are most at risk.”

paragraphMS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda became the latest casualty of the coronavirus pandemic this morning when it was announced by the sport’s world governing body that all activities will be suspended until April 30. WTS Bermuda, featuring former world champion Flora Duffy, was due to be held from April 17 to 19. Hazel Clark, the chairwoman of World Triathlon Bermuda, said: “These are unusual and challenging times for us all in Bermuda and we will continue to work in the best interest of our stakeholders and visitor participants. “Situations such as this present the opportunity for us to display the best of humanity as we navigate the impact of coronavirus as a community.” Below follows the release from World Triathlon: In the light of the rapid spread worldwide of Covid-19, the Executive Board of the International Triathlon Union has decided to suspend all activities until April 30. The measure includes the suspension of all the competitions in the World Triathlon calendar, courses, camps and other activities, and therefore all the world ranking, Olympic qualification ranking, Paratriathlon ranking and Paralympic qualification rankings will be immediately frozen from Monday. Marisol Casado, the World Triathlon president and International Olympic Committee member, said: “This is a decision that is hard to take, and you can have my word that we are taking it with the health and safety of athletes, coaches, officials, facilitators, staff, volunteers and spectators, all the triathlon family, as the top priority. We are taking this decision convinced that we all have to take our part to prevent and stop the spread of the virus. It is our responsibility as a society. And having our athletes, coaches, officials and staff travelling around the world at this challenging time is not something that we in World Triathlon are willing to risk.” All the events in the World Triathlon and continental calendars will be immediately postponed until further notice. ITU strongly recommends all the affiliated national federations to extend the measures as well in their territories, to avoid spreading the virus. All World Triathlon staff will be working from home during these weeks. World Triathlon will continue working during this time to try to reallocate the events after April 30 when possible and will work with all stakeholders to undertake further actions if needed regarding the Olympic and Paralympic qualification rankings. World Triathlon will continue evaluating the situation on a daily basis and will announce any further change in the situation as soon as possible to all stakeholders when this happens.

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March 13

paragraphImmigration legislation to be debated next week is only the first step, a town hall meeting was told last night. Colin Anderson, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of National Security, told an audience of about 30 people that the Bill was focused on mixed-status families and the repatriation of Bermudians. Speaking at a town hall meeting at CedarBridge Academy, Mr Anderson said: “Immigration reform means something different for everybody. In some places I talk about immigration reform and they all want to talk about work permits. Some people want to talk about status or that all they are interested in is the Job Makers Act. It means something different for everyone, and that is part of the challenge.” He said the changes meant children born overseas to Bermudians “up to two generations” back will be automatically Bermudian. For children born before the legislation, a Bermudian parent would still have to prove they were domiciled in Bermuda, but he said the process would be simpler. Children from mixed-status families and earlier left without status, would become eligible to qualify through the Bermuda status of brothers or sisters. The legislation would also create a two-year window for the children of permanent resident’s certificate holders to apply for PRC status. Mr Anderson said the window was a temporary solution which would allow the Government two years to tackle the problem of PRC holders. He said: “The issue is how can we have a situation where PRC holders can pass it on indefinitely? This will lead to other problems. People will not want to stay here indefinitely and be happy that they are not Bermudian. That’s not sustainable.” Mr Anderson added: “In the next two years we have to put forward legislation that deals with the issue of PRCs. It’s a compromise, but some times compromise is not a bad word.” The legislation, tabled in the House of Assembly last Friday, is expected to be debated on March 20. The individuals behind the “Supporting Fair Immigration Reform” Facebook group backed the legislation earlier this week. A spokeswoman for the group said: “The tabling of this Act is a step in the right direction and shows progress for bipartisan immigration reform. This Amendment Act will help to regularize families in Bermuda who are divided into different immigration categories. These people have ties to Bermuda. They have grown up in Bermuda, paid their taxes and continue to live here, but they can’t be in the same immigration category as their parents, as the current immigration laws do not allow them to qualify for Bermudian status or a permanent resident’s certificate.” The spokeswoman added that the Bill was a “small step” and that more work was needed. She said: “There are much more challenging topics to be discussed. We look forward to receiving further updates on how this government will fulfil its own stated promise of comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform.”

paragraphAirlines that service Bermuda have offered to waive fees for flight changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic. British Airways, American Airlines, Delta, Jet Blue, Air Canada and WestJet have each announced they would waive change fees, although the details of the policies differ between the airlines. British Airways has offered to waive change fees for any British Airways flight booked between March 3 and 31. A spokesman said: “If you need to change the travel date on your booking, we are waiving all change fees — a fare difference may apply. This applies to any British Airways flight, in any cabin, whether booked directly with us or through a travel agent. If you need to cancel your flight, we will give you a voucher to the value of that flight which can be used across the British Airways network up to 12 months from the original date of departure.” American Airlines, which offers flights to New York, Miami and Philadelphia, have waived change fees for tickets purchased prior to March 1 for travel through April 30. Change fees for summer travel have also been waived for those who book their flights now. Delta, which flies to New York, Boston and Atlanta, has waived change fees for all tickets purchased in March for travel before February 25 next year. The airline also announced there would be no change fees for any previously purchased tickets to travel between March 1 and April 30. Jet Blue, who fly to New York and Boston, announced that it would suspend change and cancel fees for bookings made between March 6 and 31 for travel through September 8, 2020. Change/cancel fees for customers who had previously booked to travel between March 10 and April 30 have also been waived. Air Canada, which offers service to Toronto, is offering a one-time change fee waiver for to tickets purchased between March 4 and 31, 2020 — provided all travel is completed before December 31, 2020. WestJet, which also flies to Toronto, has offered a one-time change fee waiver for flights booked between March 3 and 31, 2020. All of the airlines also announced that they had increased cleaning of their aircraft as a result of the pandemic.

paragraphPast convictions for possession of small amounts of cannabis could be quashed, a Cabinet minister signaled yesterday. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health who led the House of Assembly budget debate for the Ministry of Legal Affairs, said the policy was under consideration as part of a wider look at cannabis and the law. Ms Wilson said: “Work will continue on this 2020-21 budget year, to advance from limited decriminalization of cannabis to establish a robust licensing regime that will create a comprehensive framework that embraces the science of cannabis use for medicinal purposes and capitalize on the economic benefits of a regulated cannabis industry. “This will be achieved by tabling a new Bill entitled the Cannabis Licensing and Control Act 2020, along with the attendant regulations. Consideration is also being given to expunging criminal records for convictions of seven grams or less. Such persons, with otherwise untainted records and who not would be prosecuted had the new law been in effect, would be considered to be free from this burden.” Ms Wilson said the ministry’s potential changes included the creation of a simplified, regulated cannabis framework, which could include regulated cannabis use and personal cultivation, after the public showed support for decriminalization. She said: “Moving from limited decriminalization of cannabis to ending unnecessary, continued criminalisation and laying the framework for a medical cannabis industry presents many challenges. Our government has honoured its commitment to respond to the increasing numbers of medical professionals and patients embracing the science surrounding cannabis.” Government decriminalised possession of less than 7 grams of cannabis in 2017 and pledged legislation to increase access to medicinal cannabis. Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, who sits in the Senate, tabled draft legislation to legalise medical cannabis and establish regulations on licences for growers and importers, in the Senate in December. Ms Simmons said at the time: “Public consultation is meaningful, at this stage, because now that a draft framework is fleshed out in legislation, we hope it encourages constructive feedback and comments, rather than fuelling polarizing arguments in the abstract.” She added: “I can confidently say that this Bill and the regulations will fulfil this government’s promise to deliver new mechanisms for lawful access to medicinal cannabis, by way of a prescription from a medical professional and dispensed by a pharmacist and establishes the legislative infrastructure for the implementation of domestic medicinal cannabis production, while also satisfying Bermuda’s international obligations.”

paragraphCivil servants were told to cancel “non-essential travel” yesterday, but no ban will be imposed on large public gatherings at present, the Premier announced. However, David Burt advised people to practise “social distancing” and highlighted that some businesses had staff working on a remote basis. He added that plans were ready to be implemented if schoolchildren needed to be sent home. Diallo Rabain, the education minister, later confirmed that a plan had been developed from earlier virus scares. Mr Rabain added: “We are in the process of reviewing that plan. Rest assured that we do have a contingency plan that’s being worked on and will be ready within the next few days.” Mr Rabain said that the plan would allow for pupil instruction to continue if schools were forced to close. By press time yesterday, Bermuda remained free of confirmed cases of Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, which was declared a pandemic on Wednesday, by the World Health Organisation. Infections worldwide topped 133,000 cases with more than 5,000 deaths. The Premier said:  "The island awaits additional test results and that our hope is that those tests will also be negative. Test kits for the virus are expected to arrive next week. The island was fortunate due to our isolation and the fact that it is not high tourism season. The most important thing to do is to slow the spread. The Minister of Health has said previously that it is an inevitability it will arrive here.” Mr Burt explained that countries that took aggressive action to slow the spread avoided having their healthcare systems inundated with cases. Our public health response is about minimising transmission to make sure our public health system is not overwhelmed. A public health emergency response team, similar to the Emergency Measures Organisation, had combined all relevant agencies. There has been a daily flow of information to the public as we are determined to learn lessons from those countries where the virus is spreading more rapidly.” He said the island had the ability to be “nimble” and minimise the impact of the virus. He added: “There are some realities for which we must prepare, even if things do not reach a crisis point.” Mr Burt said that the Government had prepared for public employees to work remotely if required. Extra protective equipment such as gloves and masks have been ordered, along with thermal imaging equipment to scan arrivals at Bermuda’s ports of entry. He admitted there had been “some gaps early on”, but that “strict screening” continued at ports. Mr Burt added: “All essential service will continue functioning and shipping is not expected to be disrupted.” Daily updates will be posted on the Government’s website at www.gov.bm/coronavirus. Carnival cruise lines announced yesterday it had suspended operations of its Princess Cruises, which does not visit Bermuda, until May 10. A cruise that was due to include a stop in Bermuda later this month has been cancelled, its operators said yesterday. The Divina, operated by MSC Cruises, was scheduled to arrive at Dockyard on March 26 for a 24-hour visit. A spokeswoman for the cruise line said: “MSC Cruises has revised its itineraries for its ships, that were due to call at Italian ports in connection with the Italian Government’s decision on March 9 to introduce further strict measures that have impacted the country as the Covid-19 coronavirus public health emergency continues to evolve. Some ship itineraries have changed up until April 3, the date set by the Italian Government for emergency coronavirus measures, and in some instances beyond this date.” A government spokesman, however, said they had not received any notification about the cancellation. The spokesman said: “MCS has not officially released the Bermuda space for March 26 to 27 at this time. The Ministry of Tourism and Transport has not received any cruise ship cancellations affecting April’s cruise ship schedule.” Divina was the only ship scheduled to dock in Bermuda this month, with the next expected on April 3. The MSC Cruises website showed that the ship’s itinerary was to sail from Miami to New York, from where it would travel to Bermuda before going on to Europe, with a stop at Ponta Delgada in the Azores. The Divina was expected to have 4,203 passengers and 1,751 crew.

paragraphA total of three cruise lines have suspended visits to Bermuda in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was revealed tonight. The Ministry of Tourism and Transport said that Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, and Ponant Cruises for the ship have suspended cruises. Following the announcement that NCL has voluntarily suspended all cruise voyages between March 13 and April 11, a spokesman for the tourism ministry said that seven cruises scheduled to travel to Bermuda have effectively been suspended. Ponant Cruises also suspended its April 29 visit. Although Bermuda is not scheduled to receive Royal Caribbean ships until April 22, the line has suspended service for 30 days. The Azamara Pursuit, part of a Royal Caribbean affiliate brand, was cancelled for April 8. Zane DeSilva, the tourism minister, said: “In light of the monumental impact of Covid-19, the suspension of cruise ship travel was inevitable. Such decisions are among the many that governments and organizations will make as we continue working toward containing the global spread of Covid-19. Unfortunately, this will have an impact on a number of businesses that would normally service the cruise lines and cruise passengers. I would urge residents to support our local community during these difficult times. ” The cruise ship schedule will be updated on a regular basis and can be viewed at www.marops.bm/shipping_button_link.aspx

paragraphBermuda-based International General Insurance Company Ltd has been granted provisional approval by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to begin writing US excess and surplus lines business effective April 1. The approval is pending execution of the IGI Bermuda US E&S lines trust agreement which is currently in progress, IBI Bermuda’s parent company said. International General Insurance Holdings Ltd, the parent, said it is expected that IGI Bermuda will be named on the NAIC’s April quarterly listing of alien insurers. IGI Bermuda intends to write short-tail US E&S business in energy, property and political violence specialty lines.

paragraphTelecoms holding company One Communications Ltd. one of those offering Internet and WIFI, recorded net income of $16 million in 2019, the company reported in a filing with the Bermuda Stock Exchange. That was an increase of $900,000 over the net income recorded a year earlier. The company reported shareholders’ equity of $156.3 million as at December 31, 2019, an increase of $6.1 million over the previous year. Capital investment during the year was $17 million, some $11.3 million less than in 2018. The company paid $6.5 million in dividends for the period ending December 31. One paid $1.7 million in dividends in 2018. Frank Amaral, chief executive officer of One, said: “For Bermuda in 2019, we continued efforts to further improve and enhance our suite of internet, TV and mobile services. We were especially focused on the launch of our FibreWire TV platform, which provides customers with a choice as to when, where, and over what device, they want to watch. With respect to the company’s operations in the Cayman Islands, we continue to benefit from strong capital investment and continuing growth in the national economy.” The company reported earnings per share for continuing operations for the year of 39 cents per share. One’s total assets increased during the year to $212 million, up from $205.6 million the year previous. Consolidated revenue for the period was $105.6 million in Bermuda and $30.7 million in Cayman. Total operating expenses were $114.4 million. The company made $4.7 million in principal repayments in 2019 leaving a balance of $27 million in long-term debt outstanding. One said it did not make use of its overdraft facility in 2019 and had $20 million in cash and cash equivalents at the end of the period. During the year, the company repurchased 1,005,037 shares under the approved share buyback programme at an average price of $3.58 per share.

paragraphShaun Goater says he is “extremely grateful” for the considerable interest shown by parents keen to enroll their children in his newly launched academy in England. The former Manchester City striker has created the Shaun Goater International Academy, with the aim of helping Bermudians pursue a professional football career or various other job opportunities in the global sports industry, which he rolled out last week. “The last week has been a whirlwind of excitement,” Goater said. “So many people have reached out to us sending congratulations and well wishes. But the really exciting part has been speaking with families who want their sons to join the programme.” The academy is scheduled to open its doors for business in September with the selection process to start next month. Goater plans to return to the island this month to meet with parents keen to have their children enroll in his academy. “We have more calls booked in over the coming weeks,” he added. “I would urge any family who wishes to find out more to get in touch with us as soon as possible as places are limited.” The academy will utilise high-quality professional football coaching alongside strong academic performance. It is geared towards Bermudians between the ages of 16 and 18 and is also open to British-based students, and will be limited to 30 students in its first year of operation. Goater’s organisation has partnered with a school in the North West of England, where students will have the chance to learn from Uefa-licensed coaches and former Premier League players. The academy offers students two routes: the first encompasses an elite football performance pathway for talented young players and the second exposure to the football industry, allowing students to study and gain qualifications that will enable them to join university courses in Britain and beyond and pursue a career in sports marketing, sports management, commercial or journalism. It will also provide links to key organisations that can support students in their chosen field. “I feel I can really help Bermudians, in terms of this pathway, into pro football and good education if the football doesn’t work out,” Goater added.

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March 12

paragraphThree cruise lines cease all services. See https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/cruises/articles/is-cruise-industry-in-real-trouble-over-coronavirus/

paragraphCivil servants have been told to cancel “non-essential travel”  Premier David Burt said this morning. He told a press conference that the Government’s public health emergency response team had yet to make a decision on whether to restrict public gatherings and events such as the Carifta Games. He said plans were in place to be implemented in the event that students needed to be sent home from school. Bermuda remains free of confirmed cases of Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus that was deemed a pandemic yesterday by the World Health Organisation. The Premier said the island was waiting for additional test results and that “our hope is that those tests will also be negative”. Mr Burt said the island was “fortunate due to our isolation and the fact that it is not high tourism season”. He urged the public to keep informed via the Government’s website here. “Earlier today, I attended a meeting of our public health emergency response team, which has been meeting regularly since the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus. Led by the Ministry of Health, as of last week this body mirrors the EMO structure, with which we are very familiar, and brings together all relevant agencies to coordinate our efforts at preparing for this urgent public health crisis. There has been a daily flow of information to the public, as we are determined to learn lessons from those countries where the virus is spreading more rapidly.” He said the island had the ability to be “nimble” and mitigate the impact of the virus, but added: “There are some realities for which we must prepare, even if things do not reach a crisis point.” Mr Burt said that as of last week, the Government had prepared for public employees to work remotely if necessary. Extra protective equipment such as gloves and masks have been ordered and are en route to the island, along with thermal imaging equipment for scanning of travellers at Bermuda’s ports of entry. Meetings are being held frequently and Mr Burt emphasised the need for the community to keep informed via the Bermuda Government website. He added: “Our public health response is about minimising transmission to make sure our public health system is not overwhelmed.” Mr Burt said the island was learning from the example of countries that got a surge in cases because of a lack of vigilance. While he admitted there had been “some gaps early on”, the Premier said “strict screening” continued at ports of entry to Bermuda. He added: “All essential service will continue functioning and shipping is not expected to be disrupted.” Health authorities in both the United States and Canada have warned their citizens off travelling by cruise. Carnival cruise lines this morning announced it was suspending operations of its Princess Cruises until May 10. However, the Princess line does not call on Bermuda.

paragraphTemperature checks could soon be introduced at all of the island’s ports in efforts to protect against a potential killer strain of coronavirus, the Minister of Health said yesterday. Kim Wilson told the House of Assembly that officials were due to meet a vendor today, although it was still not clear what type of thermal screening equipment would be used. The Opposition One Bermuda Alliance suggested that consideration of the measure in the battle against Covid-19 could have taken place earlier. MPs heard about the island’s preparedness for the bug shortly before the World Health Organisation labelled the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic, which is a disease spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time. Craig Cannonier, the OBA leader, pointed out that temperature screening was taking place at borders all over the world and asked the health minister if there were plans to do the same in Bermuda. Ms Wilson replied yesterday: “The Ministry of Health is exploring all avenues as it relates to prevention and included in that ... is the investigation of the temperature systems, whether or not it’s the handheld one or one that you walk through, we are exploring all that. In fact, we have a meeting tomorrow with a potential vendor and we have also sourced vendors that can provide that particular mechanism. Which mechanism is utilised I can’t speak to at this point, but we are in the process, currently, of looking at a particular thermal scanner and acquiring such a scanner for our ports of entry.” Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the shadow health minister, asked how long it would take for the thermal screening equipment to be in place. She added: “It would appear that we could have been a little bit more proactive as opposed to just exploring now. I’m just wondering how far away are the receipt of the thermal monitors.” Ms Wilson replied that the person tasked with procuring items needed in Bermuda, including face masks and personal protective equipment, was also looking at the acquisition of thermal screening devices. Ben Smith, the Shadow Minister of Youth, Sport and Social Development, pointed out that, internationally, “we have seen some major changes in how people are dealing with large gatherings”, particularly sports events. He asked what plans were in place for dealing with how Bermuda might be similarly affected. Ms Wilson said: “I couldn’t stand here and correctly say that it’s business as usual because we recognise that we are in a very challenging time right now. The Government is committed to doing what we can to address this issue, however, we do recognise that there will be economic impact and there will likely be events that are going to be cancelled and persons will choose for a number of reasons not to participate in that particular event.” She added that the Government had made no decisions about whether there would be travel restrictions imposed on people coming into Bermuda or “whether or not we wish to cancel any type of public gathering”, although talks were ongoing. Ms Wilson provided an update about preparations for Covid-19 in a ministerial statement yesterday, when she told MPs that tests for the strain were performed on eight people in Bermuda — three proved negative with results pending on the others. The island sends its samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency, in Trinidad, and the turnaround time for results is four to five days. Ms Wilson said: “Currently there is no commercially available scientifically valid rapid test that can provide instant results in the world. However, we are exploring additional testing options in collaboration with local and international partners and the Government will ensure that tests can be conducted locally at the earliest opportunity.” Provision for duty relief on personal protective equipment and supplies used solely for disease prevention and control was included in the Customs Tariff Amendment Act 2020, which was tabled by Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, in the House yesterday. Ms Wilson stressed that anyone experiencing symptoms of fever, coughing and difficulty breathing should call their healthcare provider and share any previous travel history. Those people were asked not to “just show up” at healthcare facilities. Open Airways, a charity that helps people with asthma and other long-term breathing difficulties, reminded sufferers to take preventer inhalers daily as prescribed and to always carry emergency or relief inhalers. The organisation said: “We know respiratory infections can trigger asthma symptoms, and we know people with asthma and other respiratory diseases are more likely to suffer from serious complications from the virus.” It repeated guidance for preventing flu or the effects of Covid-19, including frequent hand washing with soap and water or an alcohol hand sanitiser; coughing or sneezing into an elbow or a tissue; and avoiding contact with people who show signs of respiratory problems. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, said yesterday: “In the past two weeks, the number of cases of Covid-19 outside China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled. There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives. Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals. In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher. WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have, therefore, made the assessment that Covid-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.” He said the word was not to be used lightly and that “if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death”. The WHO director-general said that the label did not change his organisation’s assessment of the threat posed by the virus, nor what countries should do. Cheryl Peek-Ball, Bermuda’s Chief Medical Officer, said yesterday that there were, at that time, no confirmed Covid-19 cases on the island. She added: “As of noon today, 44 people in Bermuda are self-monitoring with public health supervision.”

paragraphThe final appeal over same-sex marriage got a day in court for December at the Privy Council in London. The December 7 and 8 hearings, revealed yesterday, will settle the issue after years of dispute in Bermuda’s courts and Parliament. The ruling by Britain’s highest court will also set a precedent for same-sex marriage across the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, and a host of former territories. The court date was announced by the gay rights charity OutBermuda, a plaintiff in the latest round of legal action over same-sex marriage. The group said the top court’s decision would likely be made public in the first quarter of 2021. Adrian Hartnett-Beasley, a director of OutBermuda, said the group had “long known that our pursuit of marriage equality would be a marathon, not a sprint”. He said the Privy Council hearing marked the group’s “final push to preserve our equal rights under the law for all Bermudians and all families”. Mr Hartnett-Beasley added: “We deserve no less.” Zakiya Lord, another director of the group, said: “Since our first court victory and despite every obstacle put in our path, Bermuda’s loving, same-sex couples have celebrated their vows under Bermuda law.” Ms Lord said it was “time for all of us to have certainty, protection and equal dignity that marriage rights will ensure”. Roderick Ferguson, another plaintiff, said the litigants “always knew” the case could head to the Privy Council. He said LGBTQ Bermudians and their supporters had shown strength and numbers “like never before” over the past three years. Mr Ferguson added: “The popular support for marriage equality and for the LGBTQ community is stronger than ever and growing among Commonwealth nations. With three judicial victories behind us, we could not have more faith in the fairness of the courts and our ultimate victory.” OutBermuda was a main sponsor of the island’s first gay pride parade in August 2019, widely seen as a sign of the island’s changing stance. The show of support brought more than 5,000 people onto the streets of Hamilton. But the dispute’s origins go back to the Stubbs Bill of May 1994 that legalized sex between men. The next milestone was June 2013, when the Government approved amendments to the Human Rights Act to prevent discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. MPs in the House of Assembly then approved amendments defining marriage as between a man and a woman, but it was rejected by the Senate on July 2016. Same-sex marriages have been legal since May 2017, when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Bermudian Winston Godwin and his Canadian fiancé, Greg DeRoche. The two argued their rights were breached by the Registrar’s refusal to post their marriage banns. The court’s decision paved the way for others to wed. In response, the Government passed the Domestic Partnership Act that December, upholding existing same-sex marriages, but prohibiting any further by substituting them with domestic partnerships. Mr Ferguson contested the civil unions as unconstitutional, and was joined by Maryellen Jackson and OutBermuda. Other respondents were listed as Gordon Campbell and Sylvia Hayward, pastor of the Vision Church of Bermuda, which opened in 2009 as a gay-friendly church. Then Chief Justice, Ian Kawaley, ruled in their favour in May 2018, and the Bermuda Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by the Attorney-General. Because the ruling was based on a constitutional issue, the Government got an automatic right of appeal in the Privy Council.

paragraphBermuda’s banks say they will work with customers who struggle financially in the event of coronavirus-related economic disruption. The Bermuda Bankers Association said last night that its members had been “very active in preparing for the potential public health actions that may be implemented in Bermuda” as a result of a potential Covid-19 outbreak. We are also aware of the potential economic consequences for our customers, if there are significant disruptions to our daily activities. BBA member banks will undertake good faith measures to work with customers who are struggling financially to ensure that they are made aware of the options available to them. We emphasize that customers who may be facing income dislocation due to this potential health-related emergency, should contact their respective bank at the earliest opportunity to explain the economic difficulties that they may be experiencing so that responsible options can be discussed.” The statement follows a call from the Bermuda Government for the island’s banks to cut their lending rates after the US Federal Reserve dropped its influential “fed funds” rate by half a percentage point last week. The island’s four banks — HSBC Bank Bermuda, Butterfield Bank, Clarien Bank and Bermuda Commercial Bank — are the members of the BBA and employ a combined total of about 1,200 people in Bermuda. All the banks have business continuity plans to respond to potential emergency situations, the BBA said, and all will be closely following announcements from the Emergency Measures Organisation. Italy, the country with the biggest outbreak of Covid-19 outside China, this week announced a freeze on mortgage payments after a nationwide lockdown. In the UK, the UK-wide Royal Bank of Scotland has offered similar relief to its customers.

paragraphAntigua & Barbuda have confirmed their withdrawal from the Carifta Games, scheduled to take place in Bermuda next month, amid the worldwide spread of the Covid-19 virus. The 49th Carifta Games are scheduled from April 10 to 13. However, Antigua & Barbuda’s Minister of Sport Daryll Matthew confirmed his government’s decision to pull out of the event after discussions with Prime Minister Gaston Browne and other relevant health ministers and officials yesterday. “We are cognizant of the fact that our young people have been preparing for over a year for these events and having weighed this against the safety of our young people, we made a decision to withdraw from the competitions,” said Matthew, speaking to The Daily Observer newspaper. “We have communicated this information to the relevant officials which made up the Antigua & Barbuda team to include president of the Athletics Association, Swimming Association and the director of sports and they are in support of the decision,” To date, jumpers Taeco O’Garro, Sheldon Noble, Mia McIntosh and Alyssa Dyett were the only Antiguan athletes who had qualified for the event. Speaking last week, Donna Raynor, president of the Bermuda National Athletics Association, was confident that the Covid-19 threat, which has more than 129,500 confirmed cases and 4,500 deaths worldwide, would not disrupt the staging of the Games, which could involve more than 600 athletes and coaches from 27 Caribbean countries, along with supporters from various islands. The spread of the virus has already put the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer in jeopardy, while the International Triathlon Union confirmed that MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda, scheduled for the weekend after Carifta, will go ahead as planned.

paragraphRadio frequency fields from mobile phones are “possibly” carcinogenic to humans based on an increased risk of certain brain tumors, according to the World Health Organisation. University of Albany, New York professor David Carpenter, believes the WHO needs to increase its risk grading. The neurologist will be speaking tonight by Skype at a BUEI screening of the film Generation Zapped — about the risks of electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones and mobile phone towers. “The reason the WHO didn’t grade radio frequency fields as a stronger carcinogen was the lack of good animal data,” said Dr Carpenter, who is the director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany. “Now we have the animal data in conjunction with the human data. I find that quite definitive.” Dr Carpenter has edited two books on the subject, reviewed countless scientific papers about it, and sat on various committees in the United States. As an authority on the topic, Dr Carpenter gets a lot of skeptical messages. Some opponents claim there are no scientific data to prove that EMRs from mobile phones are dangerous to humans. “That is absolutely false and total nonsense,” he said. “The only people who would make a statement like that are people who don’t read the scientific studies that have been published.” He furnished The Royal Gazette with four articles from scientific journals. In one Swedish study published in Reviews on Environmental Health in 2013, oncologists Lennart Hardell and Michael Carlberg concluded that glioma and acoustic neuromas, rare types of brain tumours, are caused by RF-EMF emissions from wireless phones. “Urgent revision of current guidelines for exposure is needed. The American Federal Communications Commission has standards that are set to say that the only possible harm that can come from radio frequency radiation is if you are cooking your brain like in a microwave oven,” Dr Carpenter said. However, he believed there was real risk for people, particularly those who hold their mobile phone close to their ear, frequently, over a long time period, such as ten years or more. The risk diminishes the further the user holds the mobile phone away from their body while using it. “If you are texting and you have your phone away from your body by a foot or so, the exposure to your brain is much less,” Dr Carpenter said. He urged people to use a landline, whenever possible, or to use a wire ear piece to keep the mobile phone at arms length when a landline isn’t available. Dr Carpenter is no stranger to Bermuda. Years ago he worked as a scientist at the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences, studying the brains of sea snails. “I had wonderful times there,” he said. He said it is an “appropriate” time to discuss the topic in Bermuda because the island is considering implementing a 5G radio frequency network in Bermuda. “We haven’t studied those higher frequencies yet,” he said. “When there is a reason to be concerned we should be careful before we roll out some new thing we don’t have evidence as to whether or not it is safe.” He said at one level, 5G might actually be less dangerous than existing 3G and 4G networks. “5G frequencies don’t travel as far,” he said. “If it is rolled out you have to have these mini cell towers that are placed about every 200 metres. If it was only 5G radiation generated there, we know 5G can be blocked by trees, weather, it won’t penetrate glass. It probably doesn’t go into your brain, although there may be effects on skin and eyes. The problem is no one is going immediately to 5G. The proposal is that these mini cell towers will also generate 3G and 4G, and those we know to be dangerous.” He got “roped” into the electromagnetic field 40 years ago. “I came to New York in 1980 as the director of the New York Health Department laboratories,” he said. “Just before I arrived here there was a settlement between the State Public Service Commission and the State Power Authority over concerns about the possibility that magnetic fields from electricity might increase the risk of leukaemia in children. The state public service commission accessed money from the state utilities for a research programme.” After administering the programme for seven years, he became the spokesperson for New York State on the issue of health effects of EMR. Generation Zapped will screen tonight at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute at 7.30pm.

paragraphPeople see Hayley Francis Cann walking around with instruments and usually assume she is headed somewhere to perform. In a way she is, although her job as a music therapist requires her to “do a lot more than entertain”. There is a clinical process involved: referrals, assessment, examination of patient history and an action plan. Wanting to help people understand the role better, she searched for information, but came up with little outside of textbooks and scholarly articles. And then came the thought: why not write a book of her own? “I don’t have any children, but I’ve seen my colleagues bring their children to work,” the 26-year-old said. “That’s what gave me the idea.” Mandy’s Mom, The Music Therapist is the result of her efforts. Ms Francis Cann, who works in Ontario, Canada, returned home this week to promote it. The book tells how Mandy spends a day shadowing her mom at work and, once back at school, describes music therapy and its benefits to her classmates. Although only officially released on March 3, copies went on sale here in December. “There are so many music therapists around the world and I really wanted to do our profession justice. Also, I really wanted to get it out because March is Music Therapy Awareness Month. I thought it would be a good time for me to start getting people interested and excited about buying it, because there are so many music therapy events happening around the world. It was a bit of a challenge, but we did it. “We sold out in Bermuda which was great,” Ms Francis Cann said, adding that Amazon.com also had to order more copies from her publisher, Mascot Books. “It took about eight months to put it together before it was actually printed. It was a very hands-on process where I was involved in every detail — which I wouldn’t have had with a traditional publisher. I really liked this route.” Through the company she works for, Find Your Voice, she uses music to help older people, particularly those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. She’s particularly proud of the work she did with a woman who made the odd sound, but never said actual words. Ms Francis Cann gathered a group of seniors to sing and welcomed the woman to join them. “At the halfway point of our session, she started to sing along,” she said. “For a good 20 minutes she was singing along. That was amazing for the rest of us to see.” Because music activates the entire brain, it can temporarily bring back some of a dementia patient’s memories. “How long that memory will last depends on how progressive their dementia is,” Ms Francis Cann said. “It’s great to bring out who that person is on the inside, and see them more joyful and at ease.” Growing up, music was her passion. She played the clarinet, but hated the stress of getting on stage. Music therapy seemed the perfect career option as it included another love of hers, healthcare. The programme she studied at Acadia University in Nova Scotia required her to learn to play the piano and guitar and become proficient in voice and various types of drums, but today, her “principle instrument is the saxophone”. “I think the guitar was probably a bit of a struggle but, once I got it, it was okay. I just hadn’t ever played the guitar before. It was a completely new instrument for me.” She would like to eventually move back to Bermuda. “I would like to work with both young children and seniors, because I think there is something beautiful that can happen when those two generations cross and interact,” she said. The book will be available locally exclusively at The Long Story Short bookstore in St George. Books are also available directly from the Cann and Francis families or online on websites such as Amazon.com and mascotbooks.com.

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paragraphNo plans to cut flights to Bermuda have been announced amid concerns over a potential killer strain of coronavirus, a spokeswoman for airport operators Skyport said yesterday. The spokeswoman added: “We have not been advised by airlines of any reductions that will affect Bermuda at this time. Skyport is closely monitoring the impact the coronavirus is having on the travel industry, specifically on our day-to-day air passenger traffic.” She was speaking after it was announced that two airlines that fly to Bermuda planned to cut routes in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Delta Air Lines, which operates daily Atlanta, Boston and New York flights to and from the island, said that it was cutting international flights by up to 25 per cent and domestic routes by 10 to 15 per cent. The airline added that it would continue to make adjustments to planned capacity as “demand trends change”. A Delta spokeswoman said: “Details of our expanded schedule changes will be shared later this week.” American Airlines, which operates daily services between Bermuda and New York and Miami, announced that it would reduce its international capacity for the summer peak season by 10 per cent. The airline added that domestic capacity would fall by 7.5 per cent next month. A spokesman said: “We have not reduced any service to Bermuda at this time.” JetBlue, which flies to Bermuda from New York and Boston, was reported last week to be reducing capacity by about 5 per cent. The airline did not respond to a request for comment on if Bermuda would be affected by the cuts. Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism, was asked if talks had been held with airlines and if there had been any indication that there would be cuts in flights to the island. He was also asked if there were contingency plans to deal with a flight reduction. He did not respond by press time yesterday. News of airline capacity reduction came after the United States and Canadian Governments warned their citizens this week to avoid cruise ship travel. A total of 22 ships are scheduled to visit Bermuda next month, with 24 in May and 23 in June. David Burt, the Premier, said last week that the virus “could be an existential threat” to Bermuda’s tourism and financial services industries. There have been no confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 in Bermuda.

paragraphThe race to come in line with international standards has left Bermuda in a strong position, the finance minister said. Curtis Dickinson told the House of Assembly on Monday that last year had been a “transitional” year with a degree of uncertainty about how new legislation would affect the island. Mr Dickinson said: “We were all here for the mad rush to get economic substance passed in late December of 2018 and no one was putting any money on what the impact of that legislation would be. We had a couple of interesting things happen in 2019. We had the black listing, the grey listing and then the white listing. We also had, probably unbeknown to most members of the public, a similar set of assessments being done by the OECD around our economic substance regime, which we passed with flying colours.” He added: “For a number of companies 2019 — even for a number of practitioners in the industry — was kind of ‘hold on to your breath and hopefully the floor doesn’t fall out. People were not making aggressive pushes to recommend Bermuda because they were unclear about a number of things.” Mr Dickinson said that while Bermuda has landed on the white list, the Cayman Islands found itself on the black list, which could present opportunities for Bermuda. He said: “We may see an uptick of activity as a result of that black listing. While I am not advocating this, I am sure many of my private sector former colleagues are out there sharpening their marketing pencils and positioning this jurisdiction as best they can.” Mr Dickinson said the number of inquiries about economic substance had increased and Bermuda has positioned itself well as a high-quality jurisdiction. He added: “I think with the benefit of hindsight, economic substance may be a good thing for us.” Mr Dickinson said economic substance would not silence the “nonsense” political narrative of the island as a tax haven, but Bermuda must continue its commitment to best practice and meeting international requirements.

paragraphGovernment could install green energy solar panels on several of its buildings, it was revealed on Friday. Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, told the House of Assembly that officials had been in discussions with a company about solar panels. He said the company would install the panels on government buildings and maintain them for a fixed period. Colonel Burch said: “They would be paid back in the cost savings we get in electricity over a number of years and then the Government will own it. We are seriously exploring that as an option because we cannot continue on the path that we are on.” He added that the West End Development Corporation has already installed solar panels on several buildings in Dockyard. Colonel Burch also told the House that the ministry has launched a new drive to encourage recycling — starting with Government offices. He said: “At the start of this year I asked the education and enforcement officer to devise a plan for the implementation of mandatory recycling throughout Government. There are over 60 government locations, so the first step was to get buy-in from the Cabinet and the public service executive. That was the easy part. Now it’s getting departments to participate and I’m pleased to report that the response so far has been encouraging.” Colonel Burch said the drive had already started in 11 sections or departments and another 26 were “in progress”. He added: “We anticipate that the process will be complete by the end of this month. We have to do a better effort of recycling and I think we are on that path. If we can get those in Government to actually carry out that process, hopefully they will carry that idea home.” The minister was also asked for information on Government’s work to make quangos more efficient. Colonel Burch said that progress has been slow, but that the Housing Corporation and the Land Development Company now shared human resources and IT services. He added that Government had agreed to hire Performance Solutions, a business management consultation firm, to help with the process.

paragraphDepartment of Social Insurance benefits have increased by 1.2% effective August 16th 2019. Therefore benefits to be paid on Friday, March 13th 2020 will represent the new monthly amount plus the retroactive payment for the period August 16th 2019 to February 15th 2020. The benefit amount to be paid on April 15th 2020 will be the new monthly amount for all beneficiaries. For persons soon to be of pension age and provided that the Department has the correct contact details, you will receive in the mail an invitation to apply for a pension benefit two months before your 65th birthday. Should you have any questions, please contact the Department: Telephone: 441-292-9242 Email: SIBenefits@gov.bm In-person: Ground Floor Government Administration Building, Parliament Street, Hamilton.

paragraphA town hall meeting will take place tomorrow to discuss new immigration legislation tabled in the House of Assembly. People are invited to CedarBridge Academy for the meeting about amendments to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act. National security minister Wayne Caines said the proposed intentions of the Bill would be detailed “line by line, page by page”. The legislation, tabled by Mr Caines last Friday and scheduled for debate this Friday, aims to solve the problems of mixed-status families and settle the status of children born overseas to Bermudian parents. Further reform is planned that will also affect permanent resident’s certificates and Bermudian status, “belongers”, such as naturalized British Overseas Territories citizens and the spouses of Bermudians, and the status of job-makers. Mr Caines told the House last Friday that the Government was “committed to ensuring comprehensive immigration reform”. He said that progress “requires time, resources, collaboration with stakeholders and strong leadership on this issue”. The meeting takes place in the school’s cafeteria from 6pm to 8pm.

paragraphA former top police officer is poised to take legal action against the Bermuda Police Service after they booted his son off recruit training about two weeks before graduation because he was ruled to be overweight. Michael Jackman, who ended his career as deputy commissioner after 32 years on the job, is back on the island from his native Barbados to back up his son Jeral’s battle to be reinstated in time for the class passing-out parade on Friday. Mr Jackman, who retired in 2014, said his Bermudian son, who had almost completed the tough six-month recruit foundation course, was “body-shamed” when he was told he did not meet a body mass index standard. His father said: “He is a big guy — like most Bermudians are. Even if they could legally implement a body mass index policy, it would have to be applicable to Bermudians, but they don’t have the authority to do that. There is no provision for a commissioner to impose a BMI standard on one police officer. That’s why I am so annoyed.” Mr Jackman, who was awarded the Overseas Territories’ Police Medal for Meritorious Service in 2012, added that he would “fight this unjust, illegal and unlawful behaviour to the full extent of the law”. He explained that the police conditions of service only stipulated that an officer had to be “fit for duty”. Mr Jackman said he had spoken to Darrin Simons, the acting deputy commissioner and “pointed out that what he was doing was wrong”. He added: “They can’t introduce a policy or something that only affects a few people. There is a conditions of service order.” Mr Jackman said that he did not think Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley could meet a BMI standard of 30, which he said was expected of his son. He added: “I would make a bet that 65 to 75 per cent of police officers couldn’t make that standard. I would have been considered overweight by that standard. There are adjustments for age, but many officers could still not meet the standard.” Mr Jackman said his son, a medal winner in the IAMA Taekwondo World Championships a decade ago while still a schoolboy, had gone to the Police Association to lodge a complaint. He added: “I don’t know where that’s gone. But it’s unlawful and we can’t let it stand.” Mr Jackman said the letter given to his son suspended him for two weeks and gave him two weeks to respond, but that it was clear the commissioner “has the intention of dismissing him. He should be back at work preparing for his graduation.” Mr Jackman, in a letter to The Royal Gazette, said Jeral, 26, applied to join the service in 2019 and had the required medical. He added his son was told he was over the BMI limit set by senior officers, but that he agreed to go on a weight reduction programme and also consulted a dietitian for help. Mr Jackman wrote: “At some stage, a decision was made to allow him to enter the service and a condition was placed on that entry that he had to meet the BMI standard before completing the recruit foundation course. Before signing this illegal requirement, he was not allowed to seek legal advice. Had he sought legal advice, he would have known that the Commissioner of Police does not have a legal authority to test him for BMI, once he was accepted into the BPS.” Mr Jackman added that officers were governed by the Police Act 1974 and the conditions of service order. He said: “The Act and regulations do not give the Commissioner any authority to order or insist a police officer undertake any medical exam. Any concerns about a police officer’s medical conditions must be referred to a medical board as per the conditions of service order. A person’s weight is not a performance factor as is being argued. Weight and, in context BMI, is a medical issue and can only be addressed in one way. Surprisingly, the senior command of the BPS thinks that someone’s BMI is a performance issue.” Mr Jackman said that his son had “met and exceeded” the academic standards of the course and skill assessments and had scored 88 out of 91 in the final knowledge exams, as well as passed a police driving test. He added: “He has also exceeded all of the standards for the job-related fitness test.” Darrin Simons, the acting deputy commissioner, said last night: “The Bermuda Police Service acknowledges that this is a difficult set of circumstances. Notwithstanding, the Bermuda Police Service can confirm that Mr Jackman has been removed from the course, as he has not met a pre-employment contractual condition. The matter is ongoing and, in keeping with the principles of natural justice, Mr Jackman has been given a period of time to submit additional information to the commissioner’s office for consideration. As such, it is inappropriate for the BPS to make further comment.”

paragraphBermuda’s struggling real estate market will only recover if the island’s banks begin lending again, an economist told a construction and trades industry conference. Robert Stubbs, who is head of research at think tank Seed Bermuda, was speaking on a panel at “2020 Vision: Straight Up. No Chaser”, presented by recruitment and immigration consultancy firm The Catalyst Group. “Bermudians are not buying real estate, because banks are not lending money,” said Mr Stubbs, formerly the head of research at Bank of Bermuda. “Sixty per cent of Bermudian sales in the last 12 months were in cash. The banks are not lending, we have to get them lending again.” Bermuda recorded approximately 200 real estate transactions in 2019, a level of activity that mirrored results in 2012, which real estate agency boss Brian Madeiros of Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty has called “the worst-performing year in recent recorded history”. He said a regularized market in Bermuda that doesn’t price people out should produce 450 sales transactions annually. Penny MacIntyre, a partner at Rego Sotheby’s International Realty, also spoke on the panel. She was among several realtors who recently called on the Government to allow work permit holders to buy condominiums in Bermuda. She told conference attendees that real estate values have dropped by 30 to 40 per cent. “We are in year three of a consecutive decline in all real estate sectors”, Ms MacIntyre said. “Where we are now, from 2017 to 2018 to 2019 and now as we start 2020, is a detrimental space to be in. “For people here who hold real estate, it is their most valuable asset and their retirement money, but we don’t have a robust economy, a buying base. We don’t have enough people to fill the rental properties on a long-term basis, or to buy because of confidence levels.”

Frances-Anne Solomon did not know Ulric Cross’s story but.....the request to make a film about him came from her mother. And so she started on a quest which ultimately led to Hero. It opens the Bermuda International Film Festival on March 20. “The story came to me through a family friend,” said Ms Solomon, an award-winning film-maker born in England to Trinidadian parents. She had a successful career with the BBC before she moved to Toronto, and launched her own company, CaribbeanTales Media Group, in 2001. “A family friend approached my mother and said that he wanted her to make sure a film was made of Ulric — that was his way of saying, ‘Get Frances-Anne to make a film’. So I got involved to help my mom, initially.” Early research got her interested. Mr Cross, a lawyer, left Trinidad for England in 1941 “to seek his fortune”. He enlisted in the Royal Air Force, ultimately becoming the most decorated West Indian airman of the Second World War, and then joined the Pan-African independence movement. It put him on “a dramatically different course”, one that was completely in line with Ms Solomon’s “life mission” as a director, producer, distributor and curator — to express the “intimate voices and larger political roles” played by people from the Caribbean throughout history. Mr Cross’s tale opened the door to the “hitherto untold story of those Caribbean professionals who helped to liberate Africa from colonialism. I began to realise what a big story it was,” she said. “Really, it’s about the way the whole world came together to try to support the African liberation movement in the ‘50s and ‘60s. And then when Apartheid was abolished, all over the world there was a call from South Africa for educated black people to come and help with the transformation process. It felt very much like, let’s go and create freedom in Africa. And I thought that was a very interesting story.” As described in her director’s statement, Hero straddles the three points of the triangular trade — Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. Its aim however, isn’t to spew the “familiar narratives of slavery and victim-hood” but to instead champion “heroic agency. This story interweaves ‘reality’ [archive, newsreel] with ‘arti?cial’ media [dramatic recreation],” it reads. “These artistic tools are vital in order to reclaim and finally tell the authentic tales of our heroic Caribbean leaders, forefathers and ancestors. Since ‘real’ footage does not exist, we must re-imagined the past in order to reclaim it for posterity. These appropriations of form are essential where conventional documentation does not exist.” With so many paths to explore, the film was several years in the making. “I began working on it in 2011 and finished it last year,” the film-maker said. “It was a very long time, partly because I’ve never seen a story like that before — one that tells the story of the Caribbean. I had to come up with a way of telling a story that was one man’s story, but also tell a second story. I had to understand the whole history of all those countries [and tell a story] that was engaging and interesting from an audience point of view, but also showed the impact and importance of this man, of this time.” Mr Cross was 96 when he died in Trinidad on October 4, 2013. His family is pleased that his story has been recorded for posterity. Mr Cross’s son, Richard Finch, will be here to open the festival. His 87-year-old wife, Anne, who is also portrayed in the film, saw it at a special screening in Lewes, England, where she lives. “She liked it, she thought it was great,” Ms Solomon said. “She was pleased we had taken the time to tell Ulric’s story. It’s a story that not a lot of people know. At a particular point in time, there were a lot of Caribbean people who went to Africa to help with the movement. Persons from the Caribbean went to England and left England to go and help liberate Africa and all the change that that involved. It showed how one person from a small island could have a global impact.” Born in England to Trinidadian parents, she left the BBC and moved to Canada in 2000. “I went to university in Canada. My mother lives here, my family lives here and I wanted to move from being a producer at the BBC to owning a production company. Canada has a lot of resources for independent producers.” With Hero complete, she’s working on a film about Denham Jolly, the Jamaican-Canadian businessman and civil rights activist who transformed “from immigrant to successful businessman and philanthropist” and another about Claudia Jones, a Trinidadian who founded Britain’s first major black newspaper and helped start the Notting Hill Carnival. Ms Solomon will not be here for Biff. Actor Peter Williams will join Mr Finch at the opening. “My last film was in the Bermuda International Film Festival so I was excited to be part of it again,” she said. “I am very excited Hero has been invited to open the festival.”

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paragraphThe global spread of the coronavirus epidemic could affect the island’s tourism business, the Bermuda Tourism Authority said yesterday. However, Stephen Todd, the deputy chairman of the BTA, said it was “early days and too difficult to predict” what impact the outbreak could have on Bermuda. Mr Todd was speaking after the United States and Canadian governments warned their citizens to avoid cruise ship travel A total of 22 ships are scheduled visit Bermuda next month, with 24 in May and 23 in June. Mr Todd said the BTA was liaising with the cruise industry, mostly through its New York office. He added: “There clearly is concern for them right now. It’s difficult to measure.” A spokesman for the tourism and transport ministry said yesterday that cruise ships that want to dock in Bermuda will be assessed before being allowed to tie up. The ministry spokesman said Bermuda remained free of the Covid-19 illness. He added: “So yes, there is a possibility that cruise lines may contact the Department of Marine and Ports requesting Bermuda be included in their cruise itinerary.” He said officials would “gauge the safety of each vessel entering our waters and decide whether to allow entry”. All other ships that plan to dock in Bermuda will have to meet the same standards. The tourism ministry spokesman said the Government “continues working to fine-tune our plan”. The epidemic had claimed nearly 4,000 lives and infected more than 110,000 worldwide by last night. The US Department of State on Sunday warned its citizens, “particularly travellers with underlying health conditions”, not to take cruises. The department said that the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention had highlighted an “increased risk of infection of Covid-19 in a cruise ship environment”. Canada’s top doctor issued a similar warning yesterday. Theresa Tam, the Chief Public Health Officer, said Canadians should “avoid all cruise ship travel due to Covid-19”. Dr Tam agreed with the US that the virus could spread fast on cruise ships “due to the close contact between passengers”. Mr Todd said the outbreak had “already impacted islands to our south — this would be considered their high season”. Bermuda’s cruise season runs from April to November, with one ship, the Divina, scheduled to arrive in Dockyard from New York on March 26. Mr Todd added: “In Bermuda, there is heightened activity at our borders for cruise ships and at the airport. But to the credit of our cruise partners, they have taken as many precautionary steps as they can.” The island got a visit from Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas cruise ship last month after a long quarantine in New Jersey in the wake of suspected Covid-19 cases on an earlier cruise having led to the cancellation of its Bahamas voyage. All the passengers were later given the all-clear. Yesterday, the Bermuda Government issued a guidance document for hotels, guesthouses and Airbnb operators. The Ministry of Health said last Friday the Covid-19 threat was being included in plans for the coming cruise season. A spokeswoman said all cruise lines that visited Bermuda had forwarded their passenger screening policies. International regulations require ships to provide a Declaration of Health form to the Bermuda Government at least 24 hours before arrival.

paragraphLegislation to prevent conflicts of interest at the Land Valuation Appeal Tribunal was passed in the House of Assembly. Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, told the House of Assembly that the Land Valuation and Tax Amendment Act 2020 would “provide for a procedure for addressing the disclosure of conflicts of interest by members”. Colonel Burch explained to parliamentarians: “The valuation lists set out the annual rental values for properties in Bermuda. Colonel Burch continued: “As part of keeping the entries in the list accurate and up to date it is regularly amended in respect of changes to properties such as new builds, renovations, mergers and demolitions. Land owners then have a statutory right to challenge the proposed amendment to the list should they be aggrieved with the assessment. Colonel Burch said: “In instances where the objection is not resolved with the Land Valuation Department the objection will proceed for a hearing before the tribunal.” Colonel Burch added: “The proposed amendment stipulates that where a member of the tribunal has any direct or indirect interest in any matter before it, they shall fully disclose their interest to the tribunal at the earliest opportunity and not take part in any, or further discussion of the matter and have no vote in relation to the matter unless the tribunal has resolved that the interest does not give rise to a conflict of interest. This proposed amendment is in keeping with Government’s objective to have members on all government tribunals disclose any known conflicts of interest, thereby ensuring independent and impartial hearings.” Craig Cannonier, the leader of the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance, said he had no objections to the Bill, which would amend the Land Valuation and Tax Act 1967. He added that the change would help to make sure “we have as much transparency as possible”.

paragraphThe country must come together “like never before” as Bermuda braces itself for the battle against a new and killer strain of coronavirus, the health minister said yesterday. Kim Wilson said the kind of co-operation shown in hurricanes was needed and that people had to work together to limit the spread of Covid-19, although she emphasised the island had no confirmed cases. She told MPs in a presentation on the Ministry of Health’s budget for 2020-21: “I will take this time to remind us all that we are in the phase of preparedness for a potential pandemic and we must focus on preparing for this situation. The World Health Organisation says we must prepare to detect cases, prepare to treat cases, prepare to follow contact and prepare to put in place adequate containment measures to control the spread.” Ms Wilson added: “If I could, I would stand here today and use the entire five hours allocated to this ministry and appeal to all, how such an historic threat can only be managed by the highest level of collaboration and solidarity, of every single sector and person, in this community. This community has proven to be resilient against catastrophic hurricanes when we band together as one, so I also ask that we rise to the occasion for this unexpected and unusual threat to health like we have never done so before.” Ms Wilson said that her ministry had been preoccupied by the respiratory disease since mid-January. She added that her team was “aggressively, progressively and very passionately preparing for the escalating health threat. We’re working closely with our many international affiliates, other ministries, departments, the hospitals, the community providers and other agencies to expeditiously investigate and monitor the activities. Depending on the extent of which the Covid-19 threat evolves, the ministry may be engrossed in work completely dedicated to managing the situation during fiscal year 2020-21.” Ms Wilson added that the entire workforce in the Chief Medical Officer’s department was “nearly fully dedicated to the planning and preparing for Covid-19, which is rapidly spreading across the globe. It is a highly infectious disease and a rapidly escalating threat. Therefore it is a threat to Bermuda now and in the foreseeable future. There have been no cases of Covid-19 identified in Bermuda — however, the reality is that the spread of the virus continues on track to become a pandemic in the coming weeks if not days. Although Covid-19 is not in Bermuda, it has been documented in over 109,000 people in over 100 countries, including our region.” Ms Wilson said that the Bermuda Hospitals Board had an emergency plan in place that included options for its emergency, intensive care unit and acute care wards “to cope with an influx of patients in the event of a pandemic. The availability of beds can change on a daily basis. However, BHB has taken actions to increase the capacity of availability by making adjustments such as discharging stable patients, postponing elective surgeries and using additional beds in other areas. There are negative pressure rooms in emergency and on each floor of the acute care wing. Negative pressure rooms stop the air flowing out of the patient’s room, keeping the rest of the hospital safe. There is also an entire floor, inclusive of 30 beds, with an independent air filtration system should that need arise in case it needs to be used for potential cases. It would be critical for people who can be cared for at home to stay there so that hospital services can focus on those most in need.” She said that no one should arrive at the hospital or any clinic without calling first to tell staff their symptoms and get advice on what to do next. Scott Pearman, a One Bermuda Alliance MP, asked what happens to homeless people if there was an outbreak as they would be unable to “self quarantine” at home. He said: “It seems like a quite sensible question in the circumstances.” Ms Wilson responded that the Government is in the process of identifying facilities for those who may be in that position.

paragraphA Government bid to buy a shuttered sports centre may be scrapped, the House of Assembly has heard. Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said the $1 million sale was still budgeted and approved by the House, but questions had come up about who would run the Sandys 360 centre. Speaking on Friday, Colonel Burch explained a legal opinion suggested the sports centre’s Board of Governors would still have a say in the future of the site even after a sale. He added: “If that is the case, and I will put you on notice, we ain’t buying it.” Colonel Burch said Government awaited a definitive answer from the Attorney-General’s Chambers. He added: ‘It adds to the challenge as it is deteriorating with each passing day. There was a request for us to do some work there, but we can’t do that because we are not allowed to invest public funds into buildings that are owned privately.” The Sandys 360 Sports, Aquatic and Enrichment Centre opened in September 2009 but closed in November 2013 because it was unable to make ends meet. A KPMG report into the failed centre revealed that almost $6 million of public money was ploughed into it before April 2014. Parliament approved a plan in March 2018 for taxpayers to bail out the trustees by buying the centre and surrounding land with another $1 million of public money. But it was reported last July that negotiations with HSBC, the mortgage lender, had stalled “as a result of a third party laying a claim to some indebtedness from the trustees of Sandys 360”. Colonel Burch also gave an update on the TN Tatem Middle School, which was closed permanently in February after it was hit with severe mould problems. He told the House of Assembly: “The reality is there were three classrooms that had serious issues with mould and the music room.” Colonel Burch said the problems with the classrooms had been dealt with, but the music room would take longer as wood flooring would need to be removed. He added that the Ministry has already been contacted by several parties interested in using the former school once work was carried out. Colonel Burch said: “We will get to the stage where the building will be straightened out and we will look at the recommendations for its future uses and make a decision.” He said the ministry had worked to teach Government employees about the causes of mould and its prevention. Colonel Burch said: “We started with the schools and we are having success there. The custodians now turn off the air conditioning by 7pm and open the windows in the schools to let fresh air come into the equation.” He added that the windows were closed and air conditioning turned back on before pupils arrived in the morning. Colonel Burch also told the House that the Department of Parks Headquarters will move to Marsh Folly in Pembroke after Government abandoned a plan to build a new maintenance yard at the Botanical Gardens in Paget. He added that the area at the gardens would instead used for extra parking.

paragraphWork on the new airport terminal is in its final push towards a scheduled midsummer construction completion. About 300 people are working on the site as the $250 million project nears completion. Dave Westwood, construction manager for Aecon, the general contractor, said: “We don’t have a fixed date for the opening, but we’re on schedule. We have some finishing work to do and all the systems and equipment have to be tested and commissioned.” After the completion of construction work, the opening date will depend on how long the testing and commissioning takes — probably about a couple of months, according to Aecon. A total of 31 Bermudian subcontractors are among the companies to have worked with Aecon on the project. Mr Westwood explained that testing was scheduled this week for the six telescopic bridges, the walkways that will connect to the doorways of aircraft and give passengers protection from the elements on their way into the terminal. Tenants for the restaurants, bars and retail outlets will also be asked this week to start work on their spaces. Aecon granted The Royal Gazette’s request for a tour of the building and it was clear that airline passengers will get a very modern experience. Road access to the new-look airport will be from the same roundabout as is used today. Trees have been moved from the old terminal site and replanted as part of the landscaping work in front of the new building. A large pond will not only be decorative, but will also take the overflow from the water tank that will collect rainfall from the terminal roof for use inside the building. Passengers scheduled to leave from the airport will see 23 “smart” check-in desks, designed for use by different airlines depending on demand and clusters of self check-in kiosks, some of which have already been installed, will take the weight off the lines. The terrazzo-tiled floor has been laid, but was still under protective covers as work continued. Departing passengers’ route through the airport will be marked by decorative longtails suspended from the ceiling — incoming travellers will follow kites. Mr Westwood said: “It’s all part of the effort to create a sense of place.” Dropped-off bags will be taken to the right place in an automated process, involving conveyor belts and scanners. The system, made by Glide path, a New Zealand company, reads baggage tags to direct luggage along belts to the right aircraft. Luggage is simultaneously scanned for security purposes. If the system detects anything suspicious, the bags are diverted to an area where staff will be able to make further checks before clearing the bags to continue their journey. Travellers in the security area will find four belt scanners and two body scanners, all of which have yet to be installed. Mr Westwood added that shoe removal and laptop examinations will no longer be necessary, thanks to state-of-the-art technology. The US Immigration pre-clearance area will be past security to the left and the stairway and elevator to the international departure lounge, for those travelling to all non-US destinations, will be on the right. The departure lounges stretch the length of the building from north to south, with fixed seating, retail outlets and a restaurant with outdoor seating area at each end. Mr Westwood said the sizes of the US and international lounges were adjustable. He explained that if a cluster of flights were US-bound, for example, the US lounge could be extended to up to 70 per cent of the total area by using sliding panels to wall off appropriate areas. High-tech systems should also give incoming travellers a smoother experience passing through the new airport. A total of six “e-gates”, with passport scanners and glass doors, are about to be installed in the arrivals hall, which will automate the passport control with a system similar to the one used at London’s Gatwick Airport. The façade of the new terminal is designed to stand up against sustained winds of more than 170mph.

paragraphThe Premier has denied that the Government wanted to clip the wings of the island’s tourism authority. He was speaking after Kevin Dallas, the Bermuda Tourism Authority chief, stood down last month just after Zane DeSilva, the tourism minister, warned that he would make changes at the organisation. Mr Dallas posted on Twitter on February 29, just after he quit: “I have no doubt this team, allowed to do their jobs, will take us to the next level by implementing the National Tourism Plan.” Mr Burt said last Friday: “I’m not going to get into what someone’s tweets mean. The board has made their decision, we will move forward, and my hope is that there will be a replacement found.” He added the BTA was not an independent agency. Mr Burt said: “It’s created by an Act of Parliament, with a board appointed by the minister, who receive directions on policy from the minister. “It’s no more independent than the Bermuda Monetary Authority. Mr Burt concluded: “I think it is a red herring, when people go with this line, of some form of independence. It’s not correct. The fact is, all of these bodies work in conjunction with the Government and everyone is accountable to the taxpayers of this country, including myself.”

paragraphAn interim chief executive has been appointed for the island’s tourism overseer, its board announced today. Glenn Jones, the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s chief experience development officer, will lead the organisation until someone fills the post of CEO on a permanent basis. He will report to the BTA board and also continue in his current capacity. Paul Telford, the chairman, said: “Glenn is a Bermudian who has grown and developed within the ranks of the BTA and performed very well in a variety of evolving roles, latterly in the C-suite. I have no doubt he will be able to step into the CEO role with strength and confidence during this interim period. He has an extremely strong leadership team around him, which I’m certain will support him to the fullest, in liaison with the board. “We’re confident in Glenn’s ability to pilot the BTA on its ever-successful trajectory.” Mr Jones joined the authority in January 2015 as director of public and stakeholder relations. He then led the roll-out of Bermuda’s National Tourism Plan as director of strategy and corporate communications. The BTA said that Mr Jones leads a team responsible for “empowering Bermuda entrepreneurs and small businesses to develop on-island experiences, driving growth in visitor spending, and maintaining high visitor satisfaction”. Mr Jones, who will fill the vacancy left by the departure of Kevin Dallas, said: “I’m proud for the opportunity to lead a team that helped fuel a 37 per cent increase in air arrivals for Bermuda since 2015. During this interim period, I hope to inspire our team and the industry to the same principles that got us here — data-driven decision-making, commitment to stakeholder engagement, and strategic focus on the long view. At the same time, we’ll be focused on an agile response and innovative thinking to navigate the formidable headwinds we face in the near-term.” Mr Dallas stepped down last month, after three years at the helm, to pursue opportunities in the private sector. The BTA said its board planned to “expedite timing for the launch of a robust recruitment process for the permanent CEO position, ensuring continuity and ongoing leadership for the six-year-old destination management organisation”.

paragraphBetter services for people with special needs will include treatment in their own homes, MPs heard yesterday. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, explained that an additional grant to the Bermuda Hospitals Board of $1.2 million will pay for the development of a team “to support individuals who live in the community, but are not resident in BHB’s group homes”. She said: “The demand for expert assessment and support from people who live in the community is growing. Because there has been insufficient community support to meet the people’s needs, currently their only option is admission to a group home or long-term unit. Improved community support will help people to stay in their homes with their families.” She added that the money will pay for resources such as clinical psychology, social work, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Ms Wilson, speaking as she delivered a presentation on her ministry’s Budget, said that an extra $350,000 for the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute would help cater for the number of community treatment orders expected under new mental health legislation. She explained: “Community treatment orders are provided to people after an inpatient psychiatric admission under the Mental Health Act. It means that they will have supervised treatment after they leave hospital with certain conditions in place. If the conditions are breached the individual can be brought back to the hospital. Each new patient placed on a community treatment order under the Mental Health Act requires reviews of treatment and these will require a second opinion of an approved doctor. The funds will pay for the increased supervision, training and for the approved doctor to regularly visit Bermuda to provide the required second opinion.” Ms Wilson said that figures for 2018-19 showed that the BHB cared for about 6,000 medical and surgical inpatients as well as 97 long-term care residents and 102 hospice patients. She explained that at MWI there were 231 mental health adult inpatient stays and that the total number of child and adolescent inpatient admissions was 33, nearly double the number of 18 in the previous year. The minister added that 66 intellectual disability and 29 mental health service users were in the BHB’s 27 community group homes. Ms Wilson said: “MWI remains busy. In mental health outpatient numbers, MWI staff saw over 1,700 individual visits, compared to 1,150 visits the previous year. Follow-up appointments rose from 6,291 to 7,199. Day-patient visits rose from 12,590 to 17,317 and walk-in appointments rose from 12,388 to 14,937. Home visits also rose from 8,010 up from 7,437. These numbers are astonishing and we must address them now and BHB is a willing partner in seeking solutions to address them. Our hospitals are susceptible to the same pressures as the Government, businesses and individuals in Bermuda and cannot afford the spiraling health cost.” She added that increased demand — mostly due to an ageing population, chronic non-communicable diseases and increases in mental health problems — limited the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and MWI’s abilities to “reduce the influx of people in need coming through their doors”. Ms Wilson explained that from June 1 last year, the portion of funding earlier paid by insurers to meet claims under the Standard Health Benefit was replaced by a fixed payment from the Mutual Reinsurance Fund. She said: “The total funding from Government was capped at $322 million.” Ms Wilson explained that the amount was lower than BHB’s expenses in the previous fiscal year and that savings of $14.1 million, or 4 per cent, were needed for the board to break even in 2019-20, which was required by legislation. She told the House: “Through much hard work and a number of improvement projects, BHB had made $13.1 million of these savings by January 2020 and expects to achieve a break even position at the end of this fiscal year. After the third quarter of this year, BHB had a loss of $0.2 million based on current revenue for the year with $256.2 million and total expenses of $256.4 million. This illustrates that BHB is successfully controlling expenditure and increases in revenues to counteract the impact of the restricted revenue.” Ms Wilson added: “BHB is performing better than its budgeted estimates of a net loss from operations of $5 million at this point in the fiscal year. This is due to the hard work by staff and managers who have taken responsibility for their budgets and improvements within their departments resulting in greater operational efficiencies.”

paragraphAn online shopping platform for the post office is under development by a top professional services firm. Wayne Furbert, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, said KPMG was working on a three-year proposal which is expected to see the public service compete with private delivery companies. He told the House of Assembly last Friday: “As part of the Bermuda Post Office strategic objective to increase revenues, the department will be introducing an online shopping platform to allow our customers to purchase products and have them delivered through the Bermuda Post Office network. We believe that we can compete with the other courier services.” Mr Furbert added: “Our price structure will be, of course, much lower. The work is being done right now by KPMG, looking at a three-year business plan to see how this whole thing can be put in place so as soon as we get more information from them we can reflect the numbers in the Budget. Right now they are not reflected in this Budget.” The minister added that “spot checks” were planned for customers who receive items through the postal service — instead of requests to open every parcel in front of staff — as part of an effort to speed up the process. Mr Furbert explained that other improvements were expected to include touch screen kiosks at the General Post Office in Hamilton and all sub-post offices. Wi-fi will also be provided at the GPO. Susan Jackson, the One Bermuda Alliance’s Shadow Minister of Government Reform, asked for more information on the separation of an online shopping platform from “traditional processing” of the island’s post. Mr Furbert explained that although the post office already provided a service for goods to come into the country from overseas, the value of the items was a fraction of that carried by private firms. He added that talks were taking place with shipping service MyUS.com. Mr Furbert said it was hoped that the KPMG plan would be completed in the next six weeks. The late Walton Brown announced plans for a post office online shopping service a year ago, when he was the Minister for the Cabinet Office. MPs were told that there will be five stamp issues in 2020-21. These are expected to include the themes of Bermuda bridges, the 400th anniversary of Parliament and the 100th anniversary of The Garden Club.

paragraphA plan to introduce the “next generation” of buses for Bermuda is in its final stages, the Minister of Tourism and Transport said. Zane DeSilva added that the size of the new vehicles would be dependent on the routes they were expected to serve. He said: “The department is focused on replenishing the bus fleet and modernizing the public service. Sightseeing and charter services remain suspended as previously noted and the focus is on real-time delivery of the public bus schedule and school bus services.” Mr DeSilva said the department, with the US-based green-energy non-profit the Rocky Mountain Institute, last year completed a request for information and request for proposal for “the next generation of buses. The department will introduce appropriately sized buses according to the route demand — smaller buses will be used on smaller routes resulting in less fuel and emissions, improved road safety, less vehicle damage and lower operating costs. Features such as low floors and buggy bays will improve accessibility on the buses, providing a better passenger experience for all.” Mr DeSilva was speaking as he delivered a Budget briefing last Wednesday on operations at the Department of Transportation. The House of Assembly heard that the DPT was expected to generate revenue of $7.4 million in 2020-21, mostly from fees charged for bus tickets, passes and tokens. Mr DeSilva said that the capital acquisition estimate for the department was almost $4.9 million “primarily for the acquisition of new buses”. Mr DeSilva continued: “A total of eight buses were delivered in 2019. An RFP for new, appropriately sized, accessible and low-emissions buses was issued in 2019 and the department is finalizing the procurement strategy for continued replenishment of the aged bus fleet. The capital budget also includes phase one of the digital-fare media system, that will facilitate app-based ticketing with smart phones and tap and go validation. The digital-fare media project aims to provide frictionless, convenient and secure access to public transportation.” The DPT’s modernisation plans also include the introduction of high-speed passenger information systems and computer-aided dispatch. Mr DeSilva added that 16 buses bought in 2014 had been refurbished to tackle high emissions and to upgrade their air conditioning. Mr DeSilva said that the bus schedule operated 18 hours a day, seven days a week. Leah Scott, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister of Tourism, Transport and Regulatory Affairs, challenged the minister on the status of the much-delayed, and much-maligned new schedule. She said: “I have the ultimate question for the minister — what’s the status of the bus schedule?” Mr DeSilva replied: “That’s an easy one. The status of the bus schedule will remain the same until we get more buses.” Ms Scott, a One Bermuda Alliance MP, also asked for information on dress codes and regulations for minibuses. The minister responded: “That’s very close to coming here.” Mr DeSilva added: “I would certainly think within the next month, so probably before the season, we would like to get it done.” Ms Scott also queried the number of taxi drivers who were able to accept credit card payments and what was the “end date” for all drivers to introduce the service. Mr DeSilva said that it was his “understanding” that about 400 of the island’s 600 taxis had credit card capabilities. He added: “If we have to make some changes with regard to legislation we will do so”.

paragraphA pond filled in almost eight decades ago is to be reborn as a nature reserve. Excavators have moved in to the site of Eve’s Pond, at Shelly Bay in Hamilton Parish, as a first step towards the recreation of the pond and a three-and-a-half acre reserve by Buy Back Bermuda. Jennifer Gray, the chairwoman of Buy Back Bermuda, said the excavation might look “unsightly initially” — but promised to end with a beautiful open space. The project by Buy Back Bermuda, a joint venture between the Bermuda Audubon Society and the Bermuda National Trust, started last Friday. The site of the old saltwater pond, filled in 1941, was bought in 2012 by Buy Back Bermuda to be turned into a sanctuary for wildlife and public use. The pond used to rise and fall with the tide through a marine cave system that emerged in Harrington Sound. It will be restored as a shallow brackish pond for migrating and wetland birds, but will not be connected back to the caves to protect rare animal life underground. Excavated material from the old pond site will be used to create a roadside barrier to shelter the reserve from wind and traffic noise. The Eve’s Pond conservation management plan also includes walking trails around the edge of the pond and up into a woodland hillside. Phase two of the project will include a bird hide so wildlife can be observed at close quarters. The purchase and restoration of Eve’s Pond was made possible through a fundraising drive among the public led by the late David Saul, a former premier and businessman. Buy Back Bermuda said it planned to invite business and individual donors to enjoy the new park this summer.

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March 9

paragraphThe US Department of State has advised Americans and residents not to travel on cruise ships because of the coronavirus threat, particularly if they are elderly or suffering from prior health conditions. See https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/coronavirus-us-avoid-cruise-ships/index.html 

paragraphOn its website https://travel.gc.ca/- due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) - the Canadian Government advises Canadians to avoid travel on cruise ships

paragraphProposed legislation to tackle problems faced by mixed-status families is a step forward, a human rights lawyer has said. Peter Sanderson, who has represented several people in immigration and human rights cases, said the Government deserved credit for its Bill, “which appears to do exactly what it says on the tin”. Mr Sanderson added: “It provides flexible options for left-out members of mixed-status families to apply for status or permanent resident’s certificates. It will also simplify the process for children and grandchildren of [expatriate] Bermudians to obtain status.” Mr Sanderson said: “Although I anticipate complaints about some of the provisions, as a whole it appears to have been carefully worked out and I hope Government will not delay further. You are never going to get everything perfect or make everybody happy and any kinks can be worked out at a later date.” Mr Sanderson added that the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 2020, tabled in the House of Assembly last Friday, would also have to be reviewed. He said: “The new PRC provisions for family members of PRCs will have a two-year time limit. It is important that this is kept under review to avoid further mixed-status situations arising after the time window closes.” He added that the problem of children of non-Bermudians who were brought up on the island still had to be tackled. Mr Sanderson said: “This group, numbering a few hundred, are an integral part of Bermuda’s fabric. There was a pathway to status for those children that lapsed in 2008. That was more than a decade ago and it is now becoming quite urgent as children are reaching adulthood without any way of getting Bermudian status.” He added: “Although there are now ways for these children to obtain belonger status, this does not come with voting rights. I would urge Government not to delay further with this next piece of the picture.” He was speaking after the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2020 was tabled in the House of Assembly. It was designed to help mixed-status families and settle the status of children born overseas to Bermudian parents. Children born overseas to Bermudians “up to two generations” back would be automatically Bermudian if the amendments are approved. A Bermudian parent would still have to prove they were domiciled in the country in cases where children were born before the Act became law. Children from mixed-status families who had been left without status would become eligible to qualify through the Bermuda status of brothers or sisters. The amendments would also create a two-year “window” to allow children of PRC holders, who were excluded from residency, to obtain PRC status. The amendments are expected to be debated on March 16. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said reforms to deal with “belongers”, such as naturalised British Overseas Territories citizens and the spouses of Bermudians and the status of job-makers were in the pipeline.

paragraphThe island’s weather eye will be shut on Thursday for routine maintenance, it was announced today. The Bermuda Airport Authority said the new $2 million radar system, commissioned last July and hit with teething troubles in its first few months, will be offline from 7am to 8pm for servicing. Lester Nelson, the BAA chief executive, said, “I am pleased to report that since November 22 2019, weather radar system availability has been 96 per cent.” The radar system, on Cooper’s Island, had several unplanned outages between July and November 2019, which have since been resolved. The upgraded weather radar replaced the original system installed in 2004. The airport authority said the radar system remained under the manufacturer’s warranty.

paragraphA new consumer-friendly policy unveiled by the telecoms and energy watchdog was backed by the home affairs minister. Walter Roban said the consumer advocacy rules from the Regulatory Authority, which includes loss of service compensation for broadband and phones. Mr Roban added: “Ensuring protections for the consumer is a priority for this ministry, so we are pleased to see that the RA is also looking to implement ways to create fairness and equity.” The policy also includes compensation for missed service appointments and delays in the set-up of new services. Better handling of complaints for services such as the supply of fixed and mobile telephone, long distance, internet access, subscription television and electricity are also covered. The policy was also designed to promote honest marketing and advertising in the telecoms sector and clearer billing. Mr Roban said: “The ministry was very encouraged to learn of the RA’s commitment to ensuring the rights of the consumer. In that regard, our ministry fully supports the Regulatory Authority’s recent proposal to provide additional protections for consumers in the electronic communications sector. It’s important to make sure that consumers have the appropriate safeguards available to them — and that the rights and responsibilities of all stakeholders are clear.” Mr Roban added that a consumer protection Bill will be introduced in the House of Assembly in this parliamentary year to mandate fairness in banking and mortgage services. 

For more information or to comment on the RA’s telecoms changes, visit www.ra.bm and select the Public Consultations link, or e-mail consultation@ra.bm. The deadline to register views is March 20

paragraphFive more people have been tested for a potential killer strain of coronavirus, the Ministry of Health revealed yesterday. A ministry spokeswoman added that 22 people were “self-monitoring with public health supervision” as a precaution against Covid-19. The spokeswoman said: “It should be noted that persons undergoing testing are under self-isolation. A rapid response team will be created in collaboration with community healthcare professionals to increase capacity for detection of potential cases of Covid-19.” Test results from the Caribbean Public Health Agency are expected early next week. The spokeswoman said: “Over the weekend, religious organisations were sent guidance to share with their congregations to assist in spreading the word about preventive measures the population can take now.” The document sent to churches urged the public to wash their hands thoroughly, avoid touching their faces and not to go to work, school or social gatherings if they fall ill. More than 3,800 people have died of the virus around the world since it appeared in China and more than 108,000 people have been infected. There have been no confirmed cases in Bermuda. The ministry has said that travellers who have been in affected areas should be prepared to self-quarantine until a risk assessment is completed by a public health officer. A public health officer will then assess what public health measures should be implemented based on the travellers’ risk level. A spokeswoman said: “Public health measures may include active monitoring or supervision of self-monitoring by public health authorities, or the application of movement restrictions, including isolation and quarantine, when needed to prevent the possible spread of Covid-19 in Bermuda.”

paragraphA lawyer who has denied a string of assault charges is to face trial this month after a series of delays. Chavelle Dillon, the alleged victim, who appeared in Magistrates’ Court last week on a court order, was ordered to attend the trial of Kamal Worrell, 39, on March 16 after she twice missed earlier trial dates. Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo ordered the two to stay away from one another in light of concerns that they lived together despite bail conditions that banned contact between the two. He told Mr Worrell: “You know that you are on bail and that your condition is to have no contact. It is the Crown’s position that they will take action if you continue to violate this.” Mr Tokunbo told Ms Dillon: “The same applies to you.” Ms Dillon, 26, did not appear for the trial of Mr Worrell when it was scheduled to start on Monday, despite a court order to attend. She also missed a trial date set for February 6. Mr Worrell, from Warwick, has denied several charges that he assaulted Ms Dillon in 2018 and 2019. He appeared in court on August 28 last year and pleaded not guilty to assaulting and wounding Ms Dillon on June 1, 2019, in Warwick. Prosecutors said last October that they planned to proceed with another six allegations of similar offences on November 14, 2018, that had been withdrawn by Ms Dillon. She dropped the complaints against Mr Worrell earlier this year, but prosecutors confirmed on January 22 that they still intended to continue the case “as a matter of public interest”. Ms Dillon said last week that she maintained contact with Mr Worrell because the two had a child. She added: “I needed somewhere for me and my child to stay. Where am I supposed to go with my child? He’s one year old.” Mr Tokunbo said: “I have nothing to say to you about that.” Alan Richards, for the prosecution, said that the Crown would take action against Mr Worrell if they believed that he was in breach of his bail.

paragraphA Bermudian convicted in connection with a car crash in the United States that left a teenager with permanent brain injury should be extradited, the Supreme Court has ruled. Paul Martin, 64, pleaded guilty in September 2006 to a charge of vehicular assault in the second degree, but he quit his job and returned to Bermuda before he could be sentenced. An arrest warrant was issued by Westchester County Court in New York in November 2006, although an extradition request was not made until May 2018. The request was approved by the Magistrates’ Court, but Martin launched an appeal on the basis of the delay. He also argued that the sentence issued in his absence — between one and three years behind bars — was unconstitutional. But Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams upheld the extradition request in a decision released last month. She said: “Mr Martin, undeniably on the evidence before the magistrate, absconded from the US to avoid his pending sentence. It is hardly open to him to now suggest that the US authorities should share in his responsibility for the ensuing delay, notwithstanding any fair criticism that they delayed in locating the appellant since January 2007 when it was confirmed that he entered Bermuda. Mrs Justice Subair Williams added: “The chain of causation, in my judgment, is unbroken.” The Supreme Court heard Martin was living in the US when he was involved in a traffic collision on December 7, 2005. The victim, 18-year-old Christian Dobson, was in a broken-down car parked on the Sprain Brook Parkway in New York with his hazard warning lights on. Mr Dobson’s car was struck from behind by Martin’s vehicle with enough force to push the car about 100ft. Mr Dobson suffered severe brain damage in the crash, which left him in a temporary coma. He also experienced permanent damage to his vocal chords and now walks with a limp. Martin pleaded guilty in Westchester County Court in 2006 and was to be sentenced in December that year. He was told the sentence would be “capped” at six months in prison followed by probation. However, Martin quit his job in an October letter, which said he had to leave the country. Martin said in an affidavit that he had only pleaded guilty because he could not afford to fight the charges. He added he had been assured he would not get more than 30 days in prison, but his lawyer warned him after he admitted the offence that he would be sentenced to three years behind bars. Martin said: “I was terrified about doing that amount of time in prison for something I had not done, so when I was told there was nothing the lawyer could do about it, I decided to return to Bermuda. I am a Bermudian citizen. I planned to seek legal advice here when I could afford it.” He said because of the lack of action, he believed the US authorities had dropped the case. Martin added: “It seems most unfair to me to have my entire life disrupted, to lose everything I have here, to leave my family and friends and to lose my business after having worked hard for the past 12 years to establish myself here.” Mrs Justice Suabir Williams said the US court never told him it would not pursue him, so his belief the case was over was “unfounded”. She added that the US court was free to change its sentence cap after he decided to run. Mrs Justice Subair Williams said: “Having absconded as the appellant did, the US court clearly determined that the appellant could no longer be treated as a resident in the US who was suitable for the probation sentence which largely featured in the combined sentence originally envisaged. Thus the sentence passed was converted to a pure prison sentence in circumstances where the alternative to an imprisonment-only sentence was no longer suitable. I find nothing constitutionally offensive about this.” She dismissed the appeal and ordered that the extradition should go ahead.

paragraphA company with a loan scheme to cover solar energy installation has accused the island’s electricity and telecoms watchdog of blocking the innovation. Greenlight Energy said its financing arrangement would allow people unable to afford the upfront cost of green energy to install solar power panels. Kenny Thomson, Greenlight’s president, warned that the firm was prepared for a legal battle after the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda said its business plan breached the law. Kenny Thomson and Greenlight co-founder Cameron Smith said they had gone ahead with “a handful” of solar installations to prove the concept worked despite the RA. They added the RA demanded a list of clients last month and executed contracts, along with information about the business. The firm declined. Mr Thomson said last week: “We thought they would love us. That was naïve.” He said Greenlight was a financing company that would “allow people to get solar with zero down — we wanted to create a business that makes solar accessible to everybody”. Mr Thomson explained the initial cost of $15,000 to $20,000 to install solar energy panels on a house put it out of most people’s reach. He said: “We started this business not only because we think it can be profitable, but also the right thing for Bermuda. It addresses a major problem, because only very wealthy people can buy solar.” Mr Thomson highlighted that Bermuda was “exporting about $75 million per year to purchase oil and gas overseas”. He said: “We want to keep that in Bermuda’s economy and in our clients’ pockets.” Mr Thomson founded Greenlight in December 2018 with Mr Smith and fellow entrepreneur James Anfossi. He said the Greenlight scheme offered “a loan interest based on the energy production of their solar panels”, Payments to the firm would only start once the system started production of renewable energy. Mr Thomson said the group found “a pretty big investor who loved the idea and wanted to back us” early last year. Mr Smith said: “We went confidently to the RA, thinking we would be on our merry way.” He said Greenlight’s model appeared to follow the RA’s integrated resource plan for energy, which was designed to promote the development of renewable power. But the authority said their activities was “retailing of electricity, which is a prohibited activity under Part 4 of the Electricity Act 2016”. However, Greenlight said their lawyers at MJM had told them the business would be “selling the equipment, financing its purchase, installing it and maintaining it”. MJM told the RA in April 2019 that Greenlight’s plan “clearly provides that they will not be in the business of retail or sale of electricity”. Mr Thomson said the authority’s hardline approach had scared off investment. He added: “We had a tough decision — do we give up? We wanted the regulator to support us. Or do we press on, out of our own pockets? We decided to persevere.” Mr Thomson said they “put up a few projects proving the concept works” and decided to start marketing this year. Greenlight has fielded more than 200 calls since advertising began three weeks ago. Mr Smith said the interest was “phenomenal, considering the size of Bermuda”. Mr Thomson said the RA “stopped us in a major way early last year and now they’re doing it again”. He added: “The very entity that should be supporting us is totally stifling our success. Now we are about to spend money on legal fees when we should be spending it on solar panels.” Mr Thomson said their lawyers were “gearing up for a legal battle that we’d rather not have”. A spokeswoman for the Regulatory Authority said that one of the watchdog’s roles to ensure operators in the sector stayed within the law. She added: “In April, 2019, Greenlight Solar met with the RA to discuss its proposed business plan. Based on the information provided, the RA subsequently advised the stakeholders of Greenlight Solar that the plans were in contravention of the Electricity Act 2016. As the regulator of the sector, the expectation was that Greenlight would amend its offering to be in line with the Electricity Act.” She added that Greenlight Solar appeared to have operated with its original plan despite the RA’s warnings. The spokeswoman said: “The RA subsequently invited its principals to meet with the RA to discuss the current plan and to provide certain requested information. To date, with no proper reason, Greenlight has declined to meet and has refused to provide the requested information.” The spokeswoman added that the authority was “legally entitled, in fact obligated” to check if Greenlight complied with the law. She said: “It should also be noted that other parties with similar business offerings have complied with the RA’s requests for information. In an attempt to avoid escalation of this matter, the RA continues to ask Greenlight for the requested material.”

paragraphRetail sales volume fell 4.2 per cent in December, traditionally the most important month of the year for the industry. All retail sectors saw their inflation-adjusted sales decline year over year, capping a grim run-up to the holiday season, following on from November’s 3.2 per cent sales volume fall. Apparel stores suffered the largest fall with sales volume down 16.4 per cent, while motor vehicles stores’ sales slipped 14.1 per cent and building materials outlets saw a 7.6 per cent fall. Food stores’ inflation-adjusted sales dipped 1.4 per cent in December, while liquor stores’ sales fell 6.2 per cent. The Department of Statistics reported: “The lower sales volume can be partly attributed to the increase in prices for food and alcohol of 2.6 per cent and 4.6 per cent, respectively. In value terms [not adjusted for inflation], the sales value for food stores increased 1.4 per cent. In contrast, the sales value of liquor stores decreased 1.9 per cent.” Services stations saw sales volume decline by 2.7 per cent. Spending on goods brought in from overseas surged 19.1 per cent, or $3.9 million, compared to December 2018. Imports via courier increased $3.2 million to $13.8 million, due to “higher imports of medicaments and orthopaedic appliances”, the report added, while declarations by returning residents at the airport rose $0.7 million to $7.7 million. Excluding Sundays, there were 24 full shopping days, the same as December 2018.

paragraphAon said today it would buy Willis Towers Watson for nearly $30 billion in an all-stock deal that creates the world’s largest insurance broker. Both companies have significant operations in Bermuda. However, as Aon is the second largest insurance broker in the world and Willis the third, the deal is likely to face antitrust regulatory hurdles. The combined company would be worth $76 billion by current share prices and adds scale in a battle with falling margins and challenges ranging from the coronavirus to climate change. In Bermuda, both companies have reinsurance and insurance broking operations and both also provide captive management services. Aon is based in offices on Woodbourne Avenue and Willis on Pitts Bay Road. “We know each other well and this came together pretty quickly,” Aon chief executive officer Greg Case said on a call with analysts, adding that the deal was motivated by “unmet client needs”. First mooted a year ago, the deal creates a company that will overtake market leader Marsh & McLennan in terms of value. Aon confirmed last year that it was in early stage talks with Willis Towers before quickly scrapping the plans, without giving a reason. Analysts said that an Aon-Willis deal might have trouble clearing antitrust hurdles and Aon’s shares plunged 14.5 per cent in pre-market trade, while Willis’ shares slid 7.1 per cent, although both moves came in a market hit heavily by today’s collapse in oil prices. “The insurers and reinsurers are unlikely to be happy about the deal given the scale of the two players coming together,” said analyst Ben Cohen at Investec. The deal terms state Aon will be obligated to pay a fee of $1 billion to Willis if the deal were to fall through. Aon chief financial officer Christa Davies said she was confident of getting all the “necessary approvals” for the deal. The deal follows other moves to consolidate the global insurance business. Marsh last April sealed its own purchase of British rival Jardine Lloyd Thompson for $5.7 billion, at the time cementing its position as the biggest global player. Under the deal, Willis shareholders would receive 1.08 Aon shares, or about $232 per share as of Aon’s Friday close, representing a total equity value of $29.86 billion. The offer is at a premium of 16 per cent to Willis’s closing price on Friday. When the deal closes, existing Aon shareholders will own about 63 per cent and existing Willis investors will own about 37 per cent of the combined company on a fully diluted basis. The deal is expected to add to Aon’s adjusted earnings per share in the first full year of the deal, with savings of $267 million, reaching $600 million in the second year, with the full $800 million achieved in the third year. The deal is subject to the approval of shareholders and regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the first half of 2021. Aon will maintain its headquarters in London and the combined firm will be led by Aon CEO Case and Aon CFO Davies. Aon’s financial adviser for the deal is Credit Suisse Securities, while Willis was advised by Goldman Sachs.

paragraphA Bermudian park has joined a scheme to preserve forests in Commonwealth countries. The Walsingham Nature Reserve, known as Tom Moore’s Jungle, is the first in a British Overseas Territory to be accepted by the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. The QCC, a network of forest conservation efforts throughout the British Commonwealth, promotes collaboration among conservationists and the sharing of knowledge. Karen Border, president of the Bermuda Audubon Society and a member of the Walsingham Trust, said: “The Walsingham Nature Reserve is one of Bermuda’s most important ecological sites and a special gem of open space that is dear to many Bermudians. The Bermuda Audubon Society is delighted that its value to the community has been recognised with The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy accreditation.” Samantha Cohen, co chairwoman of Cool Earth, a charity and QCC managing partner, said: “We are delighted that Bermuda has joined the QCC, dedicating the Walsingham Trust Nature Reserve as their project. This key conservation area, which supports significant and unique populations of native trees, rare salt marshes and special plants, is a wonderful new addition to the initiative and another important step towards protecting vital forest for future generations.” The QCC was launched in 2015 to encourage Commonwealth countries to set aside and preserve forested areas for future generations. More than 45 Commonwealth countries have joined the QCC and 60 projects have been accredited. The nature reserves range in size from Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest, which covers more than 16 million acres, to Antigua’s Victoria Park Botanical Gardens, an area of just six acres. Alison Copeland, also a member of the Walsingham Trust and a biodiversity specialist in the Bermuda Government, wrote the application for accreditation for the park. A spokeswoman for the Walsingham trustees thanked Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the British Minister of State for the Commonwealth, UN and South Asia, for their support of the reserve’s application. The Walsingham Nature Reserve covers about 23 acres of land between Castle Harbour and Harrington Sound. It sits on top of the Walsingham geologic formation, the oldest and hardest limestone in Bermuda, which is home to an extensive series of dry and flooded caves. A Walsingham Trust spokeswoman said: “The rocky nature of the Walsingham Tract historically saved much of it from clearing for agriculture. Since the mid-20th century the northern and southern portions of the Walsingham Tract have been lost to quarrying and hotel and residential development, making the Walsingham Trust property even more important as a key conservation and restoration area.”

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International Women's Day. See item on March 6. 

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paragraphImmigration legislation will be amended to solve the problems of mixed-status families and settle the status of children born overseas to Bermudian parents, the national security minister said yesterday. Wayne Caines insisted there would be “no giveaways” as he tabled proposed changes to immigration laws, delayed from last year because of “unresolved issues”. The amendments to the 1956 Act, to be debated on March 16, are the first in reforms that will also affect permanent resident’s certificates and Bermudian status. Further reforms will deal with “belongers”, such as naturalized British Overseas Territories citizens and the spouses of Bermudians, and the status of job-makers. Mr Caines, speaking in the House of Assembly, said a replacement for the old Act would have gone against the Government’s promise for bipartisan collaboration on reforms. He added: “A new Act would also have no case law behind it, and lead to legal uncertainty.” Children born overseas to Bermudians “up to two generations” back will be automatically Bermudian if the legislation is approved. For children born before the legislation, a Bermudian parent would still have to prove they were domiciled in Bermuda — but Mr Caines said the process would become simpler. A two-year “window” will be created to allow children of PRC holders, who were excluded from residency, to obtain PRC status. Mr Caines said that the two-year period was “crucial” to implement reforms for PRCs. Children from mixed-status families previously left without status would become eligible to qualify through the Bermuda status of brothers or sisters. The minister, quoting Prime Minister Winston Churchill, said the move was “not the end — it’s the end of the beginning”. Mr Caines said immigration reform was an “emotive” issue and highlighted mass protests that blocked Parliament in March 2016 under the previous One Bermuda Alliance administration. David Burt, the Premier, declined to reveal what changes would come next, but said the stimulation of economic growth should come before an increase in population. He dismissed “mythical figures of imaginary people” when business leaders called for an increase in the number of residents. Mr Burt said: “The most important thing to do is for people to speak from a position of fact, and not conjecture. In 2019, we had the strongest job growth in Bermuda in 13 years. The fact is, if there are more people working in a country, then there are more people living and working in a country. If you drop 5,000 people on Front Street tomorrow, where are they going to work? The only way we’re going to have this population growth is if we have more jobs and economic activity here on the island. Remember, any investor can come to Bermuda, set up a company, employ Bermudians, and have the right to stay here for ever, pass that status on to their children, and have access to a British passport. The only thing they cannot get is Bermudian status, and that is what we will be discussing in the future phases of immigration. But what I must say is, they don’t offer status for people in Dubai, and there’s not a complaint about people living there and participating in that economy. So we have to be real about what the discussions are.” Mr Burt added the Government had “kept our promise” on cross-party collaboration. He said: “It’s bipartisan because it’s important that investors and others know that immigration policy is not going to change because of who’s in office. It doesn’t make any sense changing policy if the next government is just going to reverse the changes made. An immigration policy should be long term, thought out, and that is the reason we committed to doing this in a bipartisan fashion.” He said those who insisted that “we need more people” needed to “spell out exactly what they mean? What are the specifics?”. He added: “My job in 2020 is to make sure there are more jobs than there were in 2019 so we can continue to grow the economy and provide opportunities for Bermudians.”

paragraphFunds earmarked for a Commission of Inquiry will not cover an investigation into the island’s child protection agency, the Premier has confirmed. David Burt told Scott Pearman, the Opposition shadow legal affairs minister, that the $325,000 set aside in the Budget for a commission would be used for an inquiry into allegations of historic land grabs. Mr Pearman said: “I’m wondering whether all of that amount is earmarked for the Commission of Inquiry into land issues, or whether any of that is earmarked for a potential Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Child and Family Services.” Mr Burt replied: “It is for the Commission of Inquiry into land grabs.” He was speaking during the Budget debate in the House of Assembly on Monday. The planned probe will investigate alleged thefts at a series of public hearings to be scheduled later this year. Mr Pearman said on Tuesday that the One Bermuda Alliance had several times asked for an outside examination of the DCFS after allegations made by people sent overseas for treatment and others interested in the welfare of youngsters. The Government said later that children deserved better than “political gamesmanship” and that funding was in place to “make life better and safeguards stronger” for Bermuda’s young people. Mr Pearman said on Tuesday “It would be easy to lose count of the number of times the One Bermuda Alliance and others have called for an independent inquiry into allegations concerning the Department of Child and Family Services. I think, at the last count, it was at least six from the OBA. Each time there has been vocal community support, but only silence from Government. That is why, in our Budget Reply, we specifically included a recommendation to have ‘sufficient funds to enable a thorough external enquiry into the operations, effectiveness, care and concern underlying the choices made on behalf of our children for overseas care’.” The reply said that the department’s “policies and practices have left many unanswered questions”. The Court of Appeal ruled last June that ministers had “for some time” breached obligations set out in the Children Act 1998 because they failed to introduce a scheme to fund litigation guardians for young people involved in court proceedings. Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, announced last December that a panel of people had been set up to act as court-appointed litigation guardians. Mr Pearman added that the Opposition supported the Government’s pledge to help young people who grew too old for the care system through halfway house programmes. He said: “Their commitment does not address at all the matters requiring an independent inquiry.” Mr Pearman added that funds could be found by cuts in the number of ministers and consultants. He said: “Our vulnerable children should be the priority. A thorough and independent report into DCFS is vital. There have been far too many allegations against the department which remain unresolved. We have no idea if its work meets recommended best practice or not. We don’t know the threshold test that DCFS applies when it comes to sending vulnerable children overseas. We have no way of knowing if there are gaps that need plugging, money that needs spending, standards that need to rise. It may be that an inquiry shows that DCFS uses best practice. But we don’t know, and we must know for the sake of our children. As stated, we support proposed residential and transitional living facilities, but if those using these facilities have progressed through a system that is not fit for purpose, how will these new facilities help them?” A Ministry of Legal Affairs spokeswoman said: “The Opposition is well aware that it is not DCFS that sends children to overseas facilities when local resources are unable to address the needs of certain children. It is performed in concert with the courts and other relevant stakeholders who have determined that this is the best course of action. Despite this, they continue to attack the hard-working men and women at DCFS who have found themselves caught in the political crossfire.” She added: “A further portion of the Ministry of Legal Affairs budget has been allocated to the long underfunded psychoeducational programme that provides children with protection care and nurturance by licensed overseas therapeutic facilities for children who cannot be effectively treated in Bermuda or who had exhausted all local therapeutic/treatment services. Much work remains to be done, but the funding has been put in place to make life better and safeguards stronger for Bermuda’s precious resource, our children.”

paragraphBermuda will import extra supplies of hand sanitiser to help the fight against a new potential killer strain of coronavirus by next week, the Premier promised yesterday. David Burt said: “We recognise this could be an existential threat to our tourism industry and a threat to our financial services industry. “That is the reason why we have mobilized a full and complete government response.” The Government confirmed last night that 400 cases of hand sanitiser are due to arrive on the island next week. Supplies will be handed out at locations across the island, starting with at-risk groups like seniors. Mr Burt added: “The Minister of Finance has made emergency spending available. " Mr Burt was speaking as the number of people infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus strain topped 100,000 worldwide. He admitted: “There are some questions of shortages of particular equipment.” However, he said “all of that has been communicated to Public Health England” — an agency of the National Health Service in England. The island ran short of medical face masks last month. The Premier said: “We’re looking at eliminating duty on these particular items. We are doing everything possible to make sure we can keep the people of this country safe.” He highlighted that the country “remains on the lowest risk for international travel” and had no confirmed or suspected cases of the virus. Mr Burt added the island had “incredibly stringent steps at all of our ports”. The Government said tonight it had been planning for the cruise ship season in view of the threat from the virus. It added: “All cruise ship lines serving Bermuda have been contacted and they have shared their individual policies for the health screening of passengers.” David Kendell, the Director of the Department of Health, explained: “By liaising closely with shipping agents, government personnel are preparing for the planned arrival of all cruise ships to the island. Under the International Health Regulations, all ships must forward a Declaration of Health form to the Department of Health which must be received at least 24 hours before the ship’s arrival. The declaration will detail any instances of infectious diseases on-board and lists any previous ports of call. By having this information in advance we can make decisions based on risk assessments and in line with the International Health Regulations as to whether or not we need to intervene in any way. We also carry out full inspections of cruise ships on request in order to issue Ship Sanitation Certificates.” The Government added that extra nurses from across the healthcare profession were being trained in investigation and case management to deal with suspect cases in the community. It also said that 911 telephone operators had changed their usual call-handling methods with enhanced questioning of callers to handle situations that involved a possible case of Covid-19 to ensure the appropriate emergency services were used. Information will also be sent to churches with tips on the prevention of respiratory illness to pass on to their congregations this weekend. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said: “I would like to re-emphasize the importance of practicing good hand hygiene, social distancing and common sense. It is important to remind members of the public that if they feel unwell with respiratory symptoms, to please call ahead before entering any healthcare facility.” The Sail2020 international conference on artificial intelligence, due to take place in Hamilton between April 27 to 29, was called off yesterday because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The organisers posted on their website: “We are sad to announce our decision to postpone Sail2020. We could not in good conscience ask you and others to take the risk of exposure to Covid-19, or potential quarantine. Many of our speakers are also now unable to participate. We will post our new date as soon as it is confirmed.”

paragraphThe Bermuda Hospitals Board will complete its annual reports up to 2019 by the end of this year, health minister Kim Wilson told MPs yesterday. Ms Wilson announced BHB’s financial statements for 2015 and 2016 had unqualified audits as she tabled the quango’s annual report for 2015 in the House of Assembly. She added: “The focus is now on completing the audits for 2017, 2018, 2019 and finally 2020. The current anticipated schedule will see BHB completing all its audits up to 2019 by the end of the calendar year.” The BHB came under fire last month after it was five years behind with its audited accounts. Auditor-General Heather Thomas said that 29 public authorities, including the BHB, were so far behind with their books that politicians and officials could not make effective decisions on how to spend public money. Ms Wilson said: “I look forward to bringing the future annual reports as they are made ready and to see BHB move forward on its legislated schedule of financial reporting.” The minister added 2015 was an “incredible year” as BHB moved acute services into the new acute care wing after years of construction. She said: “BHB was able to meet its new financial obligations even though revenue decreased that year. Significant cost controls were put in place and discretionary spending was carefully managed.”

paragraphVictories in the battle for equality paved the way for a world where young women feel less affected by discrimination, the island’s EU representative said yesterday. However, Renée Webb added that campaigns like tomorrow’s International Women’s Day were needed to support women throughout the world who still struggle for basic rights. Dr Webb said that the millennials she knew appear to have grown up in a more equal society than her own generation. She added: “The younger women have a different take on it, I learnt that from my intern who is 23 and also my daughter, who is 25. They view the world completely differently to the way we do.” Dr Webb said her perception was also shaped by other young people she encountered in the Belgian capital. She added: “They don’t know what the concern is, because, I guess, they’re just born into a world where boys, their contemporaries their age — they see them as equals.” Dr Webb said: “There’s definitely more equality than there was when I was their age, so I think there’s definitely some movement.” The former tourism minister has led the Bermuda Government’s Brussels office since it opened in January last year. Two Bermudians, Maxanne Caines and Jennifer Phillips, joined her as part of the Cabinet Office’s overseas internship programme last summer. Dr Webb said that Ms Caines now spends about three days a week at the office, between work on her dissertation. She added that as well as the young women learning about her work, she learnt a great deal from them. Dr Webb said: “It’s important for women to co-opt and assist younger people in particular.” She added: “The EU as an entity is definitely male dominated, without question, and they’re used to dominating. If you’re in a meeting, they’re the ones that will speak the most and give their opinion on everything, even including women’s rights, particularly the older guys, not the younger guys so much. Very often when there are young women in the room, they don’t really see gender as an issue.” However, she said that tomorrow’s worldwide campaign, which this year has the slogan Each for Equal, was needed for people in different societies and in other countries. Dr Webb said: “International Women’s Day recognizes that women are still struggling globally and it’s not just about equality of pay and equality of service, it’s actually basic equality where women have no rights at all in some places and in some religious groups.” The International Women’s Day website said that the event celebrated “the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women”. It added: “The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. No one government, NGO, charity, corporation, academic institution, women’s network or media hub is solely responsible for International Women’s Day.” The theme for 2020 is “an equal world is an enabled world”. It was marked on the island yesterday with speeches and performances at City Hall in Hamilton. Dr Webb, whose one-year appointment in Brussels has been extended to the end of September while her replacement is confirmed, said: “Bermudian women should be proud of themselves in terms of what we have been able to accomplish in the last 20 to 30 years.”

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March 6

paragraphImmigration legislation to tackle the problems faced by mixed-status families is to be tabled in the House of Assembly today. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, will also make a ministerial statement on the subject. The legislation was expected to go before MPs in July last year. Mr Caines said, at the time, it was pulled from the order paper because of “important elements that remain unresolved”. A bipartisan committee on immigration reform was set up in October 2017 to review mixed-status families. The committee also looked at Bermuda status and permanent resident’s certificates. Cases of mixed status include families where one parent holds Bermuda status or a permanent resident’s certificate, while a spouse or children do not, despite being born on the island. The Government’s delay came under fire from the Opposition in September last year. Sylvan Richards, the Shadow Minister of Home Affairs and the Environment, said postponements to tabling the Bill indicated resistance in Cabinet.

paragraphDrones could be drafted in to help police and other agencies in surveillance and search and rescue missions, the House of Assembly has heard. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said on Wednesday that a specialist from the United Kingdom will visit the island next week to show how the technology can be used to assist the uniformed services. The news came after a question from Ben Smith, a One Bermuda Alliance MP and the shadow national security minister, in the Budget debate on the ministry. Mr Smith asked: “Has there been any further discussion on drone technology for the police service? Obviously, the technology in drones has become very specific and important across the globe in that it allows for policing, specifically at a level that you can’t always get with normal methods of trying to gain intelligence. “Is this something that we are continuing to look at and is this something that can potentially help our police force? It might be an initial outlay in cost, but it actually may reduce cost later because the man hours change when you are using technology to actually get to the result.” Mr Caines told the House: “On Monday we have the national drones lead from the UK, Scott Bateman. He will be in Bermuda to demonstrate a range of drones technology options for the Bermuda Police Service and Government. Mr Bateman has recently worked with the Turks and Caicos Islands who have purchased a drone technology that will address multiple service needs.”

paragraph“Unacceptable” conditions at the Westgate men’s prison will be tackled, the Minister of National Security has vowed. Wayne Caines was speaking after inmates at the West End jail highlighted their complaints to him. Mr Caines told the House of Assembly that Westgate had been without hot water for more than two years. He added that mould, plumbing problems and poor ventilation plagued the prison, as well as other institutions that housed offenders, including those for women and teenagers. Mr Caines told MPs the Department of Corrections budget for 2020-21 was estimated to be almost $25.6 million. He deviated from his prepared presentation when he reached the matter of building upgrades in a parliamentary debate on Wednesday. The minister said that Westgate inmates “demanded” a meeting when he visited the prison with a delegate from the Turks & Caicos Islands last month. Mr Caines added: “They took me into E2 and E3 and when I went into the facility they, who are listening now, showed me some of their concerns. They showed me the mould in the facility, they showed me the leaks in the facility. I gave the prisoners the undertaking that I will meet with the prison leadership, that I will meet with the permanent secretary, that I will meet with the minister responsible for works and engineering, that we will put together a plan, that we will accelerate the plan, that the safety of the prison officers is paramount, that the health of the prison officers is paramount, that the prisoners that are within our charge are important to us.” Mr Caines told MPs that all of the island’s secure institutions, which also included the Co-ed for women and young men in St George’s and the minimum security Prison Farm, suffered “significant infrastructure problems ... due to ageing facilities and less than robust maintenance. Mould, rusting doors, inoperable windows, plumbing faults, poor ventilation plague the facilities. During the past fiscal year, outside cleaning companies were brought in to clean areas unable to be addressed through normal cleaning regimes. However, the recognised results were short-lived due to the leaks and plumbing issues. These conditions result in an unsuitable working environment for staff and unsuitable living conditions for inmates.” Mr Caines told MPs that he was given an update on repair work at Westgate on Tuesday. The information showed that plumbers were expected to repair leaks in the kitchen and pantry this week and materials were being prepared to fix communal showers and janitorial closets, although not all the equipment needed was available on the island. Mr Caines told the House: “One out of eight of the water fountains are working. Many have been vandalized to the point where they are inoperable.” He said a supplier for new water fountains was being sourced. Mr Caines added that two new water pumps and a boiler system were expected to arrive later this month, and the boiler was scheduled to be installed as soon as possible. Mr Caines said he wanted to “reassure” inmates and prison officers that the repair work had his “full attention”. He added: “I went to the prison. It is unacceptable for prisoners, for our inmates, it is unacceptable for the prison officers that have been working in these conditions. I will say that from this floor, I will say that without reservations and we will work and we must work to make it better.” Ben Smith, the One Bermuda Alliance’s shadow national security minister, said: “I believe that at some point in 2019 the minister spoke to the fact that there was no hot water at the facility and promised to the prison officers that hot water was going to be rectified by the summer of 2019 and here we are in March of 2020 and there’s still no hot water. The minister talked about all of the issues that now have come to light with trying to get Works and Engineering to bring certain things up to the level that is expected and the minister stated that the level ... it’s quite disgusting, the level that they’re having to deal with. We have to understand that although the prison is to incarcerate people that have broken laws, they’re still people. They’re still family members, they’re still sons, right, and daughters.” Mr Smith highlighted that prison staff were also affected by the problems. He said: “Why is this particular group being treated differently than other parts of Bermuda? “Those officers obviously will have some frustration with that work environment.”

paragraphProblems with two out of three industrial washing machines has cut the Bermuda Hospitals Board’s laundry capacity, as the island braces itself for the possible impact of a potential killer coronavirus. However, a spokeswoman for BHB said a back-up plan had “ensured that there has been no impact to services at BHB” as outside laundries had been pressed into service. She added: “Our mitigation strategy also covers dealing with surges. This has to be planned for, as surges can happen at any time, due to flu or major incidents, event without the new coronavirus.” The spokeswoman said the BHB laundry department had four heavy-duty washing machines, but that one had not been in use for “many years”. She added that the three operational machines had all suffered breakdowns. The spokeswoman said: “Two of the machines went down this week, and one in mid-February. One of them has been repaired with parts fabricated by a local machinist and is already back in operation. The two other machines require overseas parts which have been ordered, and the parts are expected next week.” The spokeswoman said that BHB was able to meet demand with “at least two, and certainly with three, machines”. She added: “If the overseas parts arrive as expected, we should be able to fully support our internal needs by the end of next week.” The information was released after questions sent to the BHB by The Royal Gazette yesterday. The spokeswoman said that the laundry department was used by the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute in Devonshire, as well as group homes. She added: “Because it is a critical support service, we have mitigation and emergency plans in the event of a critical failure and this plan has been activated. This includes outsourcing work to a local company, who is able to help until we are back to full capacity. The immediate activation of our plan has ensured that there has been no impact to services at BHB.” The spokeswoman said that in the long term the BHB had planned “a more extensive laundry upgrade with new equipment”. She added: “This is currently going through internal approval processes.”

paragraphTravellers who arrived in Bermuda on the same flight as a sick passenger who was later tested for the coronavirus got no health advice after landing, it was claimed yesterday. The man coughed and sneezed during the American Airlines flight from Miami on Wednesday evening and was taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital after the plane landed at LF Wade International Airport. He has since been discharged and the Government’s Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit said in a statement last night it could “confirm that for those travellers on the Miami flight AA308 ... there is no need to take any extraordinary measures for infection prevention or control. There appears to be no need for isolation or self-quarantine of the passengers on the flight in question”. A government press release earlier in the day said the passenger was tested both for the fast-spreading Covid-19 virus and for influenza, with results still pending. It said: “That passenger had no travel history which would classify them as ‘high-risk’ for Covid-19 as they had not been to a country identified by the World Health Organisation as one with ongoing transmission of Covid-19.” The ESU statement, released just after 8pm, did not mention whether the man had tested negative for Covid-19, which has so far infected nearly 97,000 people in 81 countries and killed more than 3,300. There are now at least 205 cases in the United States, including four in Florida. Health minister Kim Wilson explained on Tuesday that, for Bermuda, testing for the coronavirus could only be done overseas and that “four to five days is the standard turnaround time to get a result”. A source close to the patient told The Royal Gazette the patient tested positive for flu at KEMH and was sent home yesterday morning, with advice to avoid contact with others. The source said the man, who lives in Bermuda, fell ill on a return flight from a holiday in Trinidad, connecting via Miami. He developed flu-like symptoms and his condition worsened on the flight here. Flight attendants agreed with the sick man’s request to be isolated at the back of the plane and he was given a mask to wear before landing. The source, who asked not to be named, questioned why the patient was led through the arrivals area by a nurse on duty, rather than being taken out of the airport via an isolated route. A passenger who was sitting three or four rows ahead of the sick man on the plane told The Royal Gazette he was alarmed there was no guidance from officials for those arriving on the same flight. “Everybody got off the flight and went through immigration and customs,” said the man, who also asked not to be identified. “I asked them about this individual. I asked why there was a sick person on the flight and we were all going home. There was no concern. There didn’t seem to be anybody that was in a position to make an announcement or anything to tell people what they should have done.” The man said the passenger coughed and sneezed throughout the flight. “They asked for a medic on board to go and assist this guy with about 20 minutes to go. Someone went back there. I grabbed my bag and went towards the front.” He said the sick passenger left the plane first, on foot and wearing a mask, via the rear exit. Taxi driver David Zuill said he picked up a passenger from the flight who was worried that everyone was allowed to leave without clear instructions on what to do. “He didn’t want to go home to his family,” said Mr Zuill, who took the passenger to a hotel instead. “He didn’t want to take the potential virus home.” The cabby said as soon as he dropped off the passenger he called into his dispatcher, Island Taxi Service, to alert other drivers. “I felt sort of bad about it, in that so many people were unaware,” he said. “They put it on the radio service as to the possibility of them being contaminated.” Mr Zuill said he was careful to thoroughly wash his hands after dropping the passenger off. “A taxi driver takes the luggage and handles it,” he said. “I don’t want to see an epidemic. I have got children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.” Government did not respond last night to the claims about a lack of guidance for passengers. The government press release said the passenger was taken to hospital “out of an abundance of caution”, even though his travel history was not of concern. A spokeswoman explained that Bermuda takes note as countries are added to the risk assessment lists of the WHO, Public Health England and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and considers whether to add them to Bermuda’s list. Neither the US nor Trinidad are on Bermuda’s list of countries which require passengers arriving here to self-isolate until a risk assessment is completed by a public health officer. The countries on the list are China, Iran, Northern Italy, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The press release said Ministry of Health staff were contacting passengers on the Miami flight to ask them to self-monitor for symptoms. Ms Wilson said: “We understand and appreciate that other passengers on that flight are feeling concerned and anxious and may have questions, so we are in the process of setting up a hotline for those individuals so they can call and speak to a medical professional.” The spokeswoman added: “Personnel are currently being trained to man the telephone line, which will be up and running as soon as possible.” A Bermuda Hospitals Board spokeswoman could not comment on the patient, but said: “We have infection control processes that are used for people with infectious diseases, from personal protective equipment for staff, to negative pressure rooms — this means air cannot flow out of a room — on each floor of the acute care wing.” AA did not respond to an e-mail request for comment.

paragraphPrivate schools are assessing spring holiday travel risks from a potential killer strain of coronavirus. Somersfield Academy said in a letter sent to parents that it was “closely monitoring the current Covid-19 situation carefully”. The school added: “As an international school, and especially with the upcoming spring break, we are particularly assessing the risks associated with travel to affected countries.” The letter said that further updates on travel advisories would be issued. It also gave “general guidance on infection control and exclusion of students/staff who are infected by a communicable disease”. The letter said: “Whenever there is doubt about the management of a particular illness, the school will seek advice from the Department of Health, the Child Health Clinic, or the epidemiology unit. Parents who have a concern are also encouraged to seek help from one of these contacts and/or their family physician.” Somersfield said that any pupil who became ill should not go to school or any other childcare centre. Sue Moench, the Principal at Mount Saint Agnes Academy, said that a letter was to be sent home today to ask parents to provide details to the school on spring break travel plans. She added that the letter would also detail steps that were being taken to keep the school safe and a list of tips to help keep pupils healthy. Linda Parker, the head of school at Bermuda High School, said in a letter to parents today that school trips to Japan and New York had been cancelled and the Year 6 Washington trip was under review. Ms Parker said that parents would be notified by March 20 if the Washington trip was to be cancelled. Ms Parker said: “We do not require family travel information at this time, but this may change as the situation demands.” She added that the school was developing contingency plans in the event that the school is ordered closed. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health said that it was not discouraging travel during spring break — but did discourage non-essential travel to areas affect with “reported sustained or ongoing community transmission of Covid-19 and related travel routes”. She said that travellers who had been to affected areas should be prepared to self-quarantine after they retuned to Bermuda until they had a risk assessment performed. The spokeswoman added: “A public health officer will then assess what public health measures should be implemented based on the traveler's risk level. Public health measures may include active monitoring or supervision of self-monitoring by the public health authorities, or the application of movement restrictions, including isolation and quarantine, when needed.” She said that everyone should wash their hands often with soap and water, avoid touching their face, and keep their distance from anyone showing any signs of respiratory symptoms, such as coughing or sneezing, to help combat spread of the virus. Bermuda has not imposed travel restrictions to block entry to visitors from anywhere in the world. Steve Cosham, the National Disaster Co-ordinator, said this week that he had made recommendations to the Government about possible travel restrictions and that Cabinet would decide what, if any, measures would be adopted. Kim Wilson, the health minister, said the same day that people who had spent time in countries considered high risk would be “given health instructions for follow up and monitoring for 14 days. There are Government officers at all ports of entry to assist with managing the situation and port officials are in continuous communication with the Ministry of Health’s Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.” The minister said that “experience to date” suggested that about 80 per cent of people who contracted the virus would mild or no symptoms and would not need hospital care. She added: “Of the rest, a portion will be able to receive medical attention at home, and a small percentage may need critical care services with intensive medical management.” Ms Wilson said that hand washing, and the use of antibacterial wipes and hand sanitisers, were the best ways to avoid virus transmission.

paragraphBermuda should consider all options, including offshore wind turbines, as it looks at future energy sources. There are strong reasons for this, according to Jens Alers, who touched on these as he spoke about a new style of ship being used to maintain offshore wind farms. The US is looking at the possibility of wind farm operations off its east coast, and the technology is increasingly being used in other places, including Europe. Mr Alers sees such developments opening up possibilities for Bermuda. He is group director of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (Bermuda), which has offices in Par-la-Ville Road. Bernhard Schulte Offshore, part of the Schulte Group, won a tender to provide a new service operation vessel to give maintenance support for a wind farm off the coast of Germany. The Bernhard Schulte group all ready has two ships servicing wind farms in the North Sea. The new vessel will accommodate about 80 technicians and crew. The technicians will be able to use a “walk to work” bridge on the ship to access the wind turbines and carry out repairs and maintenance from within the structures. The vessel will be put to work at a offshore installation where each of the 66 wind turbines generates up to six megawatts. Such large expanses of turbines would not be needed to cover the energy demands of Bermuda. Mr Alers believes that 15 similar turbines would likely be sufficient. He acknowledges there are challenges, but said solutions are also available. Bermuda is seeking a new energy plan for the future. The Integrated Resource Plan has placed a focus renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and biomass technology. Mr Alers said Bermuda should consider all options. “Wind is one, solar — given where we are — is the strongest. LNG (liquefied natural gas) is not the strongest because it is very expensive to create the infrastructure for it. But propane, which is already imported into the island and has an existing distribution network, belongs in the mix,” he said. When it comes to offshore wind turbines, he said Bermuda could, technically, have its energy needs met by about 15 of the six-megawatt turbines, although in practice it would likely install fewer. “We would not want to just rely on wind. Plus, the Sargasso Sea, where we are, is not the windiest of areas. Efficiency of turbines would be less near Bermuda than in the North Sea.” There are other challenges. Mr Alers said: “We really have to look at an environmental feasibility study, because these things have a foundation. You would need to ram them into the reef. They are basically built into the ocean floor. I’m sure there would be quite a few people who would have something to say about embedding these things into our reefs, and I totally understand that.” He mentioned research off the coast of Portugal into floating turbines that are anchored to the sea floor, something that could be less environmentally intrusive. As for the issue of hurricanes. Mr Alers said: “Well, you can stop these things. A winter storm in the North Sea is no different to a hurricane. Companies have been operating wind farms in the North Sea for quite a few years.” If Bermuda did have a small scale installation of offshore wind turbines, it would need to find a way to carry out maintenance, but not necessarily with a dedicated service operation vessel. Mr Alers said six or ten turbines would not require the full-time deployment of a support ship. “It would be very expensive for Bermuda to operate a ship like that, so other solutions would need to be found. But it can be done.” He said US states from Maine to South Carolina are keen on developing offshore wind farms. “The US will build a massive number of offshore wind farms. The aim is to be at about 20 gigawatts in just ten years from now,” Mr Alers said. “Because those wind farms require maintenance and support ships and we are not very far from that in Bermuda, our endeavours to develop wind technology could benefit. Of course it’s not something to rely on 100 per cent. It has never been good to rely on one source.”

paragraphIn celebration of International Women's Day on Sunday. By Glenn Fubler and Meredith Ebbin. "We summarize the accomplishments of five women who helped make a difference to Bermuda in the 20th century.

paragraphRoger Chapman will be keen to pick up where European Senior Tour rival Barry Lane left off at the Dark N’ Stormy® World Par 3 Championship to commence at Turtle Hill Golf Club today. The 2012 Senior PGA Championship and US Senior Open winner is making his debut in the 36-hole championship at the Fairmont Southampton layout, where he is competing for a share of the $50,000 purse as well as exemption to the PGA Tour Bermuda Championship. “I’m looking forward to it,” the Englishman said. “This is the first time I’ve been to Bermuda and the first time I’ve played a par 3 tournament that’s just consisted of par 3 holes. I’ve played on the Champions Tour in America. We had a combined tournament where you played 18 holes on a par 3 and 18 on a long course, so it’s the first time I’ve ever played a par 3 tournament.” The former European Tour and PGA Tour Champions player, who has amassed nearly $3 million in career earnings, warmed up for the event during a practise round at a windswept Turtle Hill Golf Club yesterday. “It was a little windy, but I thoroughly enjoyed it,” he said. The 60-year-old professional won the 2012 US Senior Open at the first attempt and is now hoping lightening strikes twice on his debut at the Dark N’ Stormy® World Par 3 Championship. “You never know,” he added. Chapman is also bidding to become the second straight European Senior Tour player to win the event behind last year’s winner Lane, who has not returned to defend his crown. Lane won by one shot over Miguel Angel Martinez, who also plays on the European Senior Tour. “I would like to keep the streak going,” Chapman added. “I’ve known Barry for many, many years. He’s a good ambassador for the game and it would be nice to follow in his footsteps.” Chapman has been paired in a threesome for today’s opening round that includes fellow debutant Megan Khang, the LPGA Tour player, who has represented the United States in the Solheim Cup at both junior and senior levels. Khang is among a trio of ladies players making their debuts this year along with top US amateurs Shannon Johnson and Megan Buck. Johnson is a past US Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship and multiple New England Women’s Amateur Championship winner while Buck finished third at last year’s New England Women’s Amateur Championship. This year’s 120-strong field also boasts two former winners in Canada’s Ian Doig and Bermuda’s Daniel Augustus. Augustus is gunning for a third title, having won the 2010 and 2014 events when it was then known as the Bacardi National Par 3 Championship. “Happy to be back home to have the opportunity to play a great par 3 course in some tough, windy conditions,” said Augustus, who has paired alongside past Goslings Invitational winner Billy Walsh of Canada. The course is in great condition, as it always is, and the field is big. It should be fun.” The top 20 players will earn a share of $50,000 purse, with the winner pocketing $10,000 and earning exemption to October’s PGA Tour Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf Course. We have a good field and we are excited to have the exemption spot for the Bermuda Championship in October,” Scott Roy, the tournament director and director of golf at Fairmont Southampton, said. “I think that’s been a huge draw and will continue to be a huge draw. The atmosphere with our new sponsor and partnership with Goslings has been phenomenal. The players are all excited with it and a lot of them play in the Goslings Invitational so they know exactly how much fun a Gosling event can be and so we’re happy to team up with them at Fairmont.”

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March 5

paragraphGovernment has called on Bermuda’s banks to cut their base interest rates in the face of the threat posed by the coronavirus. Pointing to Tuesday’s move by the US Federal Reserve to cut its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points to a range of 1 per cent to 1.25 per cent, Government said it “believes that in a similar fashion Bermuda’s local banks should reduce their base rates”. A government spokesperson said: “The coronavirus has had a negative impact on global commerce; affecting travel as well as the supply of goods. Bermuda will not be immune from this impact and we therefore all need to work together in order to get through the economic challenges ahead. “The Government believes that in a similar fashion Bermuda’s local banks should reduce their base rates. A reduction in local banks’ base lending rates in line with the Fed’s action will go a long way towards helping us weather this impending storm.” Government said the move by the US Federal Reserve “followed an earlier announcement by the G7 finance ministers in which they stated they will use ‘all appropriate policy tools’ to tackle the negative economic impact of the coronavirus. Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell stated that he virus and the measures that are being taken to contain it will surely weigh on economic activity for some time, both here and abroad.  “More importantly, we don’t think we have all the answers. But we do believe that our action will provide a meaningful boost to the economy’.” The Royal Gazette reached out to the island’s four banks for comment yesterday, but none of them had responded by press time.

paragraphQuarantine centres are under consideration as the country prepares itself for a worst-case scenario over the potential killer Covid-19 virus, it was revealed yesterday. Cheryl Peek-Ball, the Chief Medical Officer, said there were “conceivable situations” that could require a quarantine to deal with the new strain of coronavirus. She added: “That’s what we are working on the logistics of now.” Dr Peek-Ball said that “several facilities” were being considered as quarantine centres — but declined to discuss what they were and where they were. She added: “Those are matters that are under discussion right now. So I’m not able to give the details of that. That’s part of the information that’s being presented to the minister and Cabinet.” However, Steve Cosham, the National Disaster Co-ordinator, said there were no “turnkey” buildings on the island that could be pressed into service if needed. He added that the ten most suitable Government-owned owned buildings “in varying states of repair” had been identified and were being assessed for what work needed to be done. Mr Cosham said: “We’ve looked at ones which are almost ready to go, but they will take budget and they will take time to get up and running.” He added that the biggest had “about 20 rooms”. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said she had been assured by David Burt, the Premier, and Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, that money would be made available to combat the virus. Ms Wilson, Dr Peek-Ball and Mr Cosham were speaking as they outlined the latest preparations as the virus continued its global spread. Dr Peek-Ball said that a handful of people in Bermuda were at present being monitored for Covid-19. She said that “roughly 95 individuals” who had arrived by air had been monitored. Dr Peek-Ball added: “Approximately 29, as I recall, required active monitoring. At this time, the number is something like four or five people who are still under active monitoring.” Dr Peek-Ball added: “That process expires after 14 days, so people are constantly getting on the list of monitoring and constantly falling off.” Mr Cosham said that he had made recommendations to the Government about possible travel restrictions and that Cabinet would decide what, if any, measures would be adopted. Dr Peek-Ball said that all quarantine conditions in Bermuda were self-quarantining. She added that “practical considerations” were a major factor on whether mandatory quarantines could be introduced. Dr Peek-Ball explained: “Home quarantine has been shown to be quite adequate worldwide, and quite practical, as opposed to putting people in special facilities.” Michael Richmond, the Chief of Staff at the Bermuda Hospitals Board, said that there were nine beds in the hospital’s adult Intensive Care Unit, all of which had ventilators, as did the hospital’s operating theatres and the Emergency Department, and four extra ventilators were also available. However, he added: “Currently, we have more capacity than has been required, but in terms of how do we escalate that going forward, it’s not just about kit — it’s around personnel as well.” Dr Richmond said that the hospital currently had a “ready supply” of protective equipment for staff and that the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre in St David’s “would be used appropriately” if needed. Dr Peek-Ball said that Government had planned for the “likely scenario” as well as a worst-case scenario. She added: “I think the situation of monumental proportions, biblical proportions, is one that we are making the decision to spend less of our time on than the more likely scenario of large numbers of people simply being unwell in their homes.” Dr Peek-Ball said that the Government expected that Covid-19 would hit Bermuda and that the scenario would likely to be similar to when H1N1, a strain the influenza A virus, arrived in 2011. She explained: “There are individuals who are unwell and need the care of their family physicians. There are individuals who get sicker than that and need hospital care. And, on rare occasions, individuals die. There is the possibility of death. It’s for that reason that we stress that it’s important for us as a general population, to right now aim to be as healthy as we possibly can.” Dr Peek-Ball said that people with chronic medical conditions and people older than 60 were at higher risk of illness. Ms Wilson added that travellers to Bermuda would undergo a “travel risk assessment and could have their health monitored and movement on island restricted for up to 14 days”. She added that “ways to enhance the reliability of customs information from travellers” who arrived in Bermuda were being examined and that “we are in the process of finalizing travel forms for arriving passengers requesting specific travel details such as where you’ve travelled and when”. Ms Wilson said: “An incomplete disclosure of travel history could lead to a potential health risk for our community and therefore we want to appeal to every traveler to please be truthful.” She said that three tests for Covid-19 had so far been performed, with negative results. Ms Wilson added: “We are exploring additional testing options through Public Health England and the World Health Organisation and can give full assurance that Government will obtain the necessary equipment as it is available so that tests can be done locally.” Ms Wilson said that Bermuda Hospitals Board “has escalation plans in place ... to cope with an influx of patients in the event of a pandemic”. She added that “there are actions that can be taken to increase capacity, such as postponing elective surgeries, discharging stable patients, and using additional beds in other areas”. But Ms Wilson said that “experience to date” suggested that about 80 per cent of people who contracted Covid-19 would have “mild to no symptoms and will not need hospital care at all”.

paragraphAs a hand sanitizer shortage sweeps the island due to Covid-19 fears, a promise by Government to source the product has puzzled at least one distributor. “I don’t know where the Government is going to get it from,” said the distributor, who did not wish to be named. “There are not many US distributors who have it in stock. They don’t even have any masks in stock. There is definitely a shortage of the product on the island. Some people can’t refill their machines with the sanitizer. At the moment, I don’t have the refills. We are all waiting for the product.” According to a recent article on the Time magazine website, hand sanitizer sales in the United States are up 73 per cent in the last month. Karen Oatley, sales and marketing manager for health and beauty at Bermuda General Agency said they are finding that a lot of vendors can’t confirm orders of hand sanitizer. “We have been notified by our brand, GermX, that our next shipment of hand sanitiser may be cut,” she said. “We don’t know by how much. We had increased our orders based on demand.” Meanwhile, popular local Facebook site Maj’s List was full of unconfirmed sightings of small bottles of hand sanitiser. However, Drew McKay, chief executive officer at Gorham’s, doesn’t believe there is any hand sanitiser left on store shelves in Bermuda. “Everyone is trying to find it,” he said. “We have a steady flow of customers coming in looking for it.” Mr McKay said Gorham’s was trying to source the product. “There are a lot of delays in the US at the moment,” he said. “We are trying to circumvent those delays and find alternates.” He said they did have hand wipes in stock. In fact, they have a 20 per cent discount promo on sanitising products such as paper towels, hand wipes and toilet paper. One disappointed Gorham’s customer was fitness instructor Karen Daly. “I was at Gorham’s today and I thought I might as well get some hand sanitiser,” she said. “They didn’t have any and there was no information about when the next shipment was coming in. It is very disturbing.” She particularly needs the product because she leads fitness classes for senior citizens at the Lifelong Learning Centre at the Bermuda College. “I have 60, 70 and 80-year-olds in my class,” she said. “I wanted to tell them where to source the product or provide it. I went to the lady in the store and she said ‘no masks!’ Not that I was asking.” The shortage was leaving some people to make their own hand sanitiser. LaVonne Hodsoll who works in a private lab in Bermuda said she makes her own hand sanitiser all the time. “Working in the lab we are always looking for ways to protect ourselves and to keep a sterile environment,” Ms Hodsoll said. “So it’s easy to just use what we have on hand rather than spending money. You can get the cheap aloe vera gel from the Dollar Store, and 70 per cent alcohol. It works. Just using plain alcohol will work but will dry out your hands.” According to a notice released by the Government yesterday, once they source the product and get it to the island, it will be available at government offices and will be distributed throughout the community, starting with at-risk segments of the population such as seniors. Additionally, the Government will waive customs duty on hand sanitiser, protective masks and other supplies as the Department of Health deem necessary, in the fight against influenza and Covid-19. Genelle John, who makes natural soaps and beauty products through her company Salt Spray Soap in St George’s, is against using hand sanitiser in response to Covid-19. “Hand sanitiser kills some germs while the act of washing with soap, not only kills germs, but it also carries them away through proper soaping and rinsing,” she said. “Soap lifts the germs and dirt and works with water to remove it from our bodies. Not only should hand sanitiser be a last resort, but one should then wash their hands with soap at the earliest opportunity. This is always the recommendation, but especially now when we are at heightened alert to quell the spread of the coronavirus. With repeated washing, please moisturise to prevent possible cracking and bleeding hands. We have a thick body butter with shea butter in it and our made-in-Bermuda soap is also formulated specifically to clean without drying out the skin.” The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention backed her statements. According to the CDC website, alcohol-based hand sanitisers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitisers do not eliminate all types of germs. They also may be less effective when your hands are greasy or particularly dirty, making soap the better option. The agency recommends first washing hands with warm or cold water and then lathering soap for 20 seconds to get it on the backs of hands, between fingers and under finger nails before rinsing off.

paragraphNo fentanyl overdoses took place at the island’s prison, the House of Assembly heard yesterday. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, told MPs there was “nothing to substantiate” use of the drug. His comments came after Ben Smith, a One Bermuda Alliance MP and the shadow national security minister, raised the matter during a Budget debate yesterday. Mr Smith started: “There was two fentanyl overdoses that happened in the prison.” But, Mr Caines, of the Progressive Labour Party government, stood and said: “With the greatest of respect we deal with fact. There were no fentanyl overdoses anywhere in the facility and so he has to be very careful when we use the words fentanyl and overdoses and other things of that nature.”

paragraphProper job descriptions for teaching assistants have been signed off by the Department of Education. The Bermuda Union of Teachers said it hopes the move will lead to salary increases for classroom assistants and educational therapist assistants. The BUT spent 20 years battling for the job descriptions to be formally recognised, before an agreement was reached last month. A union spokesman said today: “All parties signed off on the job descriptions on Wednesday. Our discussions with the Department of Education have finally borne fruit, and we are optimistic that this group of often overlooked educators will, at long last, get the acknowledgement, respect, and compensation they deserve.” The BUT praised executive Joezine Butterfield, who has been “in the trenches fighting for paraeducators and ETAs for many, many years”. The spokesman said: “A job well done Sister Butterfield. Your persistence and determination have been an inspiration to this union throughout this struggle. We now look forward to this long-suffering group being furnished with a salary increase as per management services. We’d also like to acknowledge the positive work put in during this joint effort between the BUT and the Department of Education. This illustrates in vivid colour that collaboration and commitment is possible going forward.”

paragraphA pair of half-siblings accused of the 2006 murder of a man were found guilty by a unanimous jury verdict yesterday. Katrina Burgess, 49, and Cleveland Rogers, 52 had denied the premeditated murder of Marcus Gibbings, who was found dead in a Devonshire apartment on October 26 that year. Acting Puisne Judge Craig Attridge remanded Rogers and Burgess in custody for sentence at a later date and ordered social inquiry reports on them both. Detective Inspector Arthur Glasford said after the verdict was announced that the decision would give Mr Gibbings’s family some belated closure. He added: “A team of investigators from the Serious Crime Unit have worked tirelessly on this case. Members of our society should take note that the police and criminal justice system are here to help and we will always work to obtain justice, as was done in this case.” Mr Glasford added: “In a small community it can sometimes be challenging to get enough evidence and put such cases such as this before the court. While I will not comment on the specifics of this case, we take comfort in the fact the criminal justice system has worked for someone whose life was taken from him.” Prosecutors alleged that Burgess, the former girlfriend of Mr Gibbings, had paid Rogers $5,000 to commit the murder after the victim cheated on her and ended their relationship. The verdict came after more than five hours of deliberation and the defendants remained silent as the verdict was delivered. Mr Gibbings, 32, was found in a pool of blood in a Derwent Lane, Devonshire apartment. The court heard he had shared the apartment with Burgess until weeks before the murder, but was in the process of moving out. An autopsy revealed he had suffered multiple stab wounds including one to his face and two to his chest, one of which struck his heart. The court heard evidence from two witnesses — both former girlfriends of Rogers — who alleged that he confessed to the murder. Neither can be named for legal reasons. The first witness, who was in a relationship with Rogers in 2006, said Rogers admitted that he had waited behind a couch and ambushed Mr Gibbings, who was lured to the apartment by Burgess. The second witness said Rogers mentioned in a conversation that he had killed someone who had “stalked” Burgess. Neither told police about the confessions until 2018, at which time Rogers was behind bars for an unrelated conviction for having unlawful carnal knowledge of a 13-year-old girl. Marc Daniels, who appeared for Rogers, said the two witnesses admitted they had spoken to each other before they told police about the confessions and that both had an axe to grind with his client. Charles Richardson, for Burgess, said the jury could not consider the evidence of the witnesses against his client as it would be hearsay, and that there was no other evidence to link his client to the crime. Both defence lawyers also raised the possibility of another potential suspect — the husband of a woman Mr Gibbings had started an affair with.

paragraphInternational companies in Bermuda are continuing to scale back business travel for employees in the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak, The Royal Gazette understands. Some companies have axed overseas trips for staff until further notice, while others have put restrictions in place for destinations with confirmed cases of Covid-19. Bermuda has not imposed travel restrictions to block visitors from anywhere in the world entering the island, but it is understood that some companies are now limiting visits from overseas clients and colleagues. Roland “Andy” Burrows, CEO of the Bermuda Business Development Agency, said: “Covid-19 is presenting an unprecedented global challenge. Helping to mitigate the outbreak and protect employees is of the upmost importance for all international businesses, as well as the BDA, while also ensuring continuity of operations. At times like these, it remains critical for everyone to focus on the facts and communicate responsibly to help contain any speculation, hype and panic.” Mr Burrows said the Government, led by the Ministry of Health, was actively monitoring the situation in line with recommendations from leading international authorities and was publishing current information on its website. He added: “As such, we are advising the Bermuda business community and the community at large, to follow the appropriate, and proportionate, prevention measures. While individual companies will put in place responsible and necessary guidance, it is important to reiterate that Bermuda has no confirmed cases of the virus at this time and we are open to business. The BDA will continue to advise our stakeholders and international clients of the Bermuda Government’s position and all pronouncements relating to coronavirus through our media channels.” John Huff, chief executive of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, would not comment yesterday on whether any member firms had indicated that they were imposing travel restrictions on staff and using alternatives to face-to-face meetings for global clients. He said: “Member companies are making individual decisions on travel.” Mr Huff added that Abir had shared with its members advice for businesses and employees from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. He noted that Bermuda was ranked lowest risk on the US Department of State’s four-tier travel risk advisory, with travellers told to “exercise normal precautions”. HSBC Bermuda said earlier this week it had “restricted travel to a number of destinations until further notice” for staff. Angell Kasparian, a director at KPMG, a global accounting and professional services firm, said the company was “monitoring the situation very closely.  We are deeply saddened by the personal impact it is having,” said Ms Kasparian. “Self-quarantine rules are in effect for high-risk areas but that has very limited impact on our business in Bermuda. With technology in place, we are able to easily keep working with our other offices or any clients around the world. Should an issue develop locally, we have flexible work arrangements in place and, again, technology allows us to work from anywhere.” A spokeswoman for Third Point Re, a Bermuda-headquartered company which also has offices in New Jersey and London, said: “The health and safety of our staff and their families continues to be, as always, of paramount importance to us. We have a proactive health and safety committee that ensures our employees have a safe and secure working environment. We are actively monitoring the developing situation closely and communicating with employees. We already have protocols in place to allow for working remotely, modifying our travel policy and ensuring business continuity.” The Ministry of Health says travellers from affected areas, including countries with reported sustained or ongoing community transmission of Covid-19 and related travel routes, are being monitored upon arrival to Bermuda. Those returning from affected areas, including China, Iran, Northern Italy, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, are asked to self-quarantine until a risk assessment is completed by a public health officer.

paragraphPartnerRe is to be sold to French insurer Covéa for about $9 billion in cash. The Bermudian reinsurer’s parent company Exor signed a memorandum of understanding to sell its 100 per cent stake in PartnerRe to Covéa. The agreement will become binding after it receives approval from workers’ councils, according to a statement. PartnerRe will also pay a $50 million cash dividend before the closing of the deal. John Elkann, the chairman of Exor, said: “We have now been presented with an outstanding chance for PartnerRe to further strengthen its competitive advantage while providing important new opportunities for its people under Covéa’s ownership.” The acquisition requires approval by regulators and is expected to be completed by the end of this year. It would be the biggest deal in the industry since Axa bought XL Group, another Bermudian-based company, for $15.3 billion two years ago. Exor said its aggregate cash return on its PartnerRe investment had been about $3 billion. Since 2016, PartnerRe has paid a total of $661 million in dividends to Exor and has grown its book value by $510 million to $6.57 billion. Exor said: “This was achieved notwithstanding 2017 and 2018 being among the most challenging years for the reinsurance industry.” The reinsurance industry has evolved in recent years, Exor said, adding: “Specifically, scale is becoming increasingly important for reinsurers as their primary insurance clients consolidate and then seek counterparties with greater capital strength when reinsuring their risks. Following the acquisition by Covéa, PartnerRe will enter the top tier of reinsurers worldwide also by balance sheet size.” Exor, the investment vehicle of the billionaire Agnelli family, bought PartnerRe in 2016 for $6.72 billion. The deal was done after Exor won a hostile takeover battle for PartnerRe in 2015, breaking up a merger agreement between the reinsurer and Bermudian re/insurer Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. Emmanuel Clarke, CEO of PartnerRe said: “Over the past four years, under Exor’s ownership, we have strengthened PartnerRe’s position as a global, diversified reinsurer, thanks to a continuous focus on enhancing our client and broker franchise, our underwriting and investments portfolios and our operational efficiency. And I’m confident we are in a very good position to further evolve under our new ownership.”

paragraphBillionaire businessman and part-time Bermuda resident Michael Bloomberg has pulled out of the US presidential race. Mr Bloomberg announced he would withdraw from the battle for the Democratic nomination for candidate to take on Donald Trump and thrown his weight behind rival Joe Biden, vice-president under Barack Obama. Mr Bloomberg’s decision came after Mr Biden’s massive victory in the North Carolina primary, which gave new life to his campaign for the nomination and also caused other candidates to drop out of the race and endorse him instead. Mr Bloomberg, a former mayor of New York, who owns a home in Tucker’s Town, said in a letter to supporters yesterday: “Three months ago today, I entered the race for president to beat Donald Trump. Today, I am leaving the race for the same reason — to defeat Donald Trump because it is clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult. After yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.” Mr Bloomberg spent more than half a billion dollars of his estimated $60 billion fortune in the first 100 days of his campaign. He has hinted he could put as much as a billion dollars into the race — even if he is not a candidate — and promised to keep the massive campaign machinery he assembled in place to assist whoever wins the nomination.

paragraphSome customers of One Communications Ltd, including Rubis Energy and Bermuda Gas, experienced problems due to a service outage on Tuesday and yesterday. A pole fire was said to be the root of the problem, with technical crews sent out throughout Tuesday night and yesterday to restore service. In an update at about 4pm yesterday, One Communications said service had been restored to 95 per cent of the affected customers. The outage affected internet, TV and home phone services of customers in St George’s and parts of Hamilton Parish. Rubis Energy and Bermuda Gas earlier said they were unable to communicate using landlines as a result of the outage. The companies said customers can use emergency numbers to reach them, but not leave voicemails as that system has proved to be unreliable during the interruption. One Communications posted regular updates about progress to fix the outage on its Facebook page. Asked about the pole fire, Belco confirmed there was an incident in Hamilton Parish that took place between Fractious Street and Coney Island on Tuesday. “While a full investigation has not yet been completed, an initial assessment has confirmed that a street light wire came into contact with a Cablevision wire and the contact caused the wires to ignite. Belco responded immediately and addressed the incident.”

paragraphShaun Goater has launched an academy to help Bermudians pursuing a professional football career or various other job opportunities in the global sports industry. The former Manchester City striker has created the Shaun Goater International Academy, which is scheduled to open its doors for business in September. The academy will utilise high-quality professional football coaching alongside strong academic performance and is geared towards Bermudians between the ages of 16 and 18. Goater’s organisation has partnered with a school in the North West of England, where students will have the chance to learn from Uefa licensed coaches and former Premier League players. The academy offers students two routes: the first encompasses an elite football performance pathway for talented young players and the second exposure to the football industry, allowing students to study and gain qualifications that will enable them to join university courses in Britain and beyond and pursue a career in sports marketing, sports management, commercial or journalism. It will also provide links to key organisations that can support students in their chosen field. “The Shaun Goater International Academy has been created in order to allow young Bermudians to achieve their dreams of entering the football or sports industries here in the UK and beyond,” Goater said. "We have worked tirelessly to create partnerships that will enable our students in Bermuda to live in the UK and gain not only robust qualifications, but excellent coaching, guidance and life experience. Over the years, I’ve always wanted to help Bermudians in some way, shape or form whether it’s doing football camps developing youngsters and giving them a pathway. One of the routes was Bermuda Hogges and now it’s reached a stage where I feel I can really help Bermudians, in terms of this pathway, into pro football and good education if the football doesn’t work out. Returning back home and seeing loads of organisations come to Bermuda putting programmes on off this premise that, ‘You’ll get professionals trials and this and that’ and nothing really materializes, so my thing is for Bermuda, by Bermuda. I’ve really invested in trying to help Bermudians make it and, if they don’t, they still can have this education pathway into football as well. From a football point of view, it creates the pathway that children can come over here between the ages of 16 and 18, pursue a career in football through an academy or school system where they will be educated taking up the courses that have interests and a keenness and desire to create a career from an education point of view. We have Uefa-qualified coaches, myself being one, and all of our coaches have played in the Premier League, so we are excited. Some academies just say Uefa, but have no experience of playing at the highest level, so we are excited that we are giving children the right information.” The academy is also open to British-based students and will be limited to 30 students in its first year of operation. “There are limited places; there are not an endless amount of places that we can give,” Stuart Manifould, who serves as Goater’s UK adviser, said. “Some academies will just throw open their door and allow anyone to come; that’s great, but you can’t offer quality if you do that. Our whole vision here is to offer a very, very high-quality education and elite performance environment and we can’t do that if there’s hundreds of students, so we are going to try and limit this to 30 in year one.” Goater says his organisation has made “great progress” ensuring partnerships are in place to add value to the scheme. “We have already partnered with an outstanding education provider in Cheshire, England, and we are actively working with the Bermuda Government to confirm their support. I have had a couple of conversations with the Ministry of Sport. We are still having discussions around how they can support scholarships for families, but at the same time we are open to businesses, corporate Bermuda perhaps, even sponsoring children scholarships. The conversation we are having now with Government is really good; it’s positive, but ongoing. We know that our timeline is tight. But we are working and they seem very pleased with the discussions.” The academy also has future plans to create pathways for students in various other sports. “Once we get the football pathways down, we want to then grow this into other sports in Bermuda,” Manifould said. “So whether we get some talented golfers, netball players or athletes, we feel now that we have the partnerships in place over here to really grow that into different sports and not just football. Obviously, we want to grow football for now and show all the projects and all the partnerships that we’ve got really work. But we have already lined up partnerships in other organisations to grow this into other sports.”

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March 4

Coronavirus gateway to Bermuda and hotspotsparagraphExtra supplies of hand sanitizer are to be imported and handed out free of charge, the Government said last night. The move came as the island braced itself for the possible arrival of the potential killer coronavirus strain Covid-19. Kim Wilson, the health minister, said the hand sanitizer would be available at government offices and distributed around the island, with at-risk people like seniors given priority. She added: “Government will waive customs duty on hand sanitizer, protective masks and other supplies as the Department of Health deems necessary in the fight against influenza and Covid-19.” Ms Wilson added that Cheryl Peek-Ball, the Chief Medical Officer, had yesterday written to business organisations around the island to offer advice on how to combat “the emerging public health threat” from the new virus strain. She said non-essential travel to areas with cases of the virus should be avoided and advice on the need to wash hands “often and well” with soap and water, cover coughs, and that people should stay at home if they felt ill. Dr Peek-Ball’s letter added that companies should hand out disinfectant wipes to staff and provide hand sanitizer in reception and communal areas. The letter said cleaners should also be told to wipe down often-touched places such as door handles, access keypads, taps, coffee pots, kettles, fridge handles and water cooler taps. Dr Peek-Ball added: “The Ministry of Health has received many calls from members of the business community lately seeking advice on whether or not to travel to certain places for work-related activities.” She said people should visit www.gov.bm/health-information for the latest travel advice. Dr Peek-Ball added: “Certain places have a high level of transmission so, if you go, you may be asked to self quarantine upon return. Likewise, if you go to a place with a lower level of transmission, you may be asked to self-monitor on return to Bermuda.” However, she warned travellers the situation “is fluid, so you may visit a country deemed to be low risk which may elevate to high risk while you are there and therefore this would require you to follow more intense monitoring when you return.” The news came as six out of seven direct-flight destinations from Bermuda had confirmed cases of a new strain of coronavirus by yesterday afternoon. (Graphic shows today's corona virus hotspots in the countries concerned). The United Kingdom, where British Airways operates to London Gatwick, had the highest number, with 51 cases of the potential killer Covid-19 strain. Ontario, Canada, where Air Canada and WestJet operate services to Toronto, had 20. Bermuda also has direct flights to Miami, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Boston, Massachusetts; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and New York City. There were three confirmed cases in Florida and two each in New York state, Massachusetts and Georgia. Pennsylvania had no reported coronavirus cases yesterday, but it was said the state would begin to test for Covid-19 immediately. Bermuda has not imposed travel restrictions to block visitors from entry in the wake of the outbreak. David Burt, the Premier, said on Monday the virus threat was taken “extremely seriously” and the Government would “use the full scope of our resources to protect Bermuda’s residents”. Travellers arriving at ports of entry are first questioned by customs officials and community health nurses are available to carry out further screening. The Covid-19 virus has infected about 90,000 people around the world so far, including hundreds on board the once-Bermudian-registered, now British-flagged, cruise ship Diamond Princess, which is quarantined in Yokohama, Japan. A Ministry of Tourism and Transport spokesman said the virus had not affected the 2020 Bermuda cruise ship schedule. He added: “In fact, the ministry has fielded requests to accommodate additional cruise calls. However, with limited space, we can only accommodate so many and are advising cruise operators of what space is available.” The spokesman said the island expected a record number of cruise ship calls this year, with 100 contract visits and 93 occasional calls. He added: “Furthermore, Bermuda remains free of Covid-19 and Government has committed the full force of its resources to safeguard Bermuda from the virus and is prepared for the eventuality of an outbreak.” In response to further questions, the spokesman said: “With the focus on Covid-19 and how it can impact Bermuda, the Ministry of Tourism and Transport understands why the number of cruise lines visiting Bermuda may be of concern. However, the ministry can confirm that it is not unusual for the Department of Marine and Ports Services to receive requests for additional cruise visits, as it happens every year. Accepting the requests depends on berth availability and whether or not we can accommodate them. As such, we cannot call the requests an increase per se, but rather a normal part of the year-round cruise ship business. With that said, Government and the Department of Health continues to monitor the situation in our cruise ship ports and should an issue arise that poses a risk to the people of Bermuda, we are prepared to take the appropriate steps to safeguard the wellbeing of our country.” A Skyport spokeswoman described the measures being taken at the airport. She said: “Skyport has implemented measures to support the Ministry of Health in its government-led efforts to detect and manage the possible importation of coronavirus. Health awareness information is being shared with arriving passengers at the LF Wade International Airport on the digital screens in the immigration hall. An isolation area has been set up in the hall for health officials to assess passengers traveling from high-risk countries, or who are exhibiting symptoms of illness. Additionally, public health and safety audio messaging is being broadcast on the PA system throughout the terminal. Finally, Skyport has increased the frequency of cleaning activities throughout the terminal, with priority placed on areas anticipated to have elevated risks for viral contact.” A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said: “The Government is prepared to provide any additional necessary funding required to prevent, treat and contain a Covid-19 outbreak, should one occur, including any additional hospital expenses to handle an extraordinary situation.”

paragraphThe possibility of an on-island centre to treat troubled children is under discussion, the legal affairs minister and Attorney-General has said. Kathy-Lynn Simmons said: “The ministry is consistently reviewing legislation and services to ensure Bermuda meets or exceeds international standards and best practices in the area of the protection of children. As part of the ongoing improvement of services provided to vulnerable children, an on-island facility has been an integral part of the discussion. The public can be reassured programmes for children are always under review and decisions regarding additional services or facilities will be determined based on data and evidence.” Ms Simmons was speaking after senior magistrate Juan Wolffe underlined the need for a “multi-purpose residential treatment centre for children” two weeks ago. The island’s top magistrate told an assembly of judges and lawyers, to mark the start of the judicial year, that a new centre would cut the number of troubled youngsters who had to be sent overseas. Martha Dismont, the executive director at the Family Centre, who was at the ceremony, said yesterday that Mr Wolffe’s concern was “gratifying to hear”. She added that there was treatment for children with difficulties on the island, but many were not equipped to care for youngsters with more serious problems. Ms Dismont said: “There currently exists two residential treatment facilities for children. Unfortunately, these are not strict secure facilities and, what I know of them, they are not prepared to meet the more intensive and sensitive needs of Bermuda’s highest risk young adults or teens.” Ms Dismont said that a specialized unit should be focused on “suicidality and unaddressed trauma” in children, which she said was often not tackled properly. Sandy De Silva, the director of services for Family Centre and executive director designate, highlighted the importance of proper assessment of a child’s needs so that they may get proper treatment. She explained: “Bermuda requires an assessment of need regarding our children and adolescents with challenges so that the high-level specialized care required can be accurately determined.” Dr De Silva added: “This intensive care should include equally as intense support for the family systems that surround the children and adolescents in need. Kelly Hunt, the executive director of the Coalition for the Protection of Children, backed a specialist treatment centre for Bermuda. She said: “An assessment and evaluation process should ensure that sending a child to an overseas facility is a last resort, only reserved for children with severe mental health illnesses that cannot be dealt with in Bermuda.” Ms Hunt added that a transitional programme for young people who grew out of the childcare system was critical. Desmond Crockwell, a community activist, said that Bermuda would offer better options for family therapy than an overseas institution. He explained that a combination of supervised visits and counselling services for a child and family members could help solve a lot of problems. Mr Crockwell added: “Nobody wants to grow up without their parents or their siblings, so I think that this can do a lot for their development.”

paragraphThe case of two people charged with a man’s murder will go to a jury today. Lawyers for Cleveland Rogers and Katrina Burgess told the Supreme Court on Friday that the evidence put forward by prosecutors could not support their “Lifetime movie” narrative. Ms Burgess and Mr Rogers deny the premeditated murder of Marcus Gibbings, whose body was found at his former apartment in Devonshire on October 26, 2006. Ms Burgess was the former girlfriend of Mr Gibbings and Mr Rogers is her half-brother. Prosecutors alleged that Ms Burgess paid Mr Rogers $5,000 to commit the murder which he confessed to two witnesses, both former girlfriends who cannot be identified for legal reasons. Marc Daniels, the lawyer for Mr Rogers, said in his closing speech on Friday that neither of the witnesses told police about the confessions until years later. He added that both came forward just before Mr Rogers was to be released from prison on an unrelated matter. Mr Daniels said that the women witnesses had admitted they spoke to each other about their allegations. He added the second witness “really had an axe to grind and she got information from the first witness, but that doesn’t make it true”. Mr Daniels said: “We know she got details that came from the first witness that didn’t come from Mr Rogers because all she asked was who and why. It’s ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.” He said that phone records confirmed that Mr Gibbings spoke to Ms Burgess for just over a minute on the evening before his body was found. Mr Daniels added that the victim had spoken to his lover, a married woman, for more than 40 minutes the same evening. He said: “She has got some serious powers of persuasion that in 63 seconds she was able to tell her ex-man something that would persuade him to come to her home. This is the Crown’s theory and this is their evidence. Does this evidence support their narrative or does it open the door to another type of narrative?” Mr Daniels said Mr Gibbings was excited about his new relationship and had told several people he wanted to take his new partner to Disney World with her children, despite the fact she was married. He said: “Marcus was so giddy, or slack, to be running his mouth to his colleagues all about this trip. Bermuda’s small. People get wind of things. But I cannot guess a narrative about things based on a phone call; the Crown did that.” Charles Richardson, who appeared for Ms Burgess, said the jury could not consider the confession evidence because it would be hearsay. He said: “The Crown is trying to paint a picture of Ms Burgess with paints they are not allowed to put on her canvas. If they had a case all this time that they felt was good enough, why did they wait 12 years to bring it?” Mr Richardson added that the rest of the evidence suggested no more than the breakdown of a relationship. He said: “In this case, somewhere in the midst of that unremarkably human experience of breaking up with someone, something remarkable happened, and that was that someone killed Mr Gibbings. Don’t be misled to believe that this unremarkable break-up became a motive. There is no evidence that remotely points to Ms Burgess as being responsible for Mr Gibbings’s death.” Mr Richardson said there was no evidence to suggest payment to Mr Rogers other than hearsay and that the injuries suffered by Mr Gibbings suggested a crime of passion. He said the killer “was motivated by more than just a bruised ego over a break-up or a few thousand dollars”.

paragraphAn Opposition MP claimed “something don’t smell right” after he asked a Cabinet minister about the departure of the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s former chief executive. Michael Dunkley pressed Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, on the circumstances that led to Kevin Dallas stepping down from the post last week. He told the House of Assembly, during a debate on the ministry’s budget on Monday: “The departure of Mr Dallas comes at a very critical time and what concerns me about it is ... I thought that he was well respected within the BTA, well respected within the industry and certainly I thought that the team and him as a leader were doing a good job.” Mr Dunkley added: “This sudden departure raises concerns with me and many people throughout the community because it came on a Wednesday, he was gone on a Friday.” He said: “It means, in my view, something unexpected happened suddenly.” The MP asked if an executive recruiter would be used to help fill the vacancy and how the BTA will be led in the interim. He added: “Is there any risk that we could lose other senior people?” Leah Scott, the Opposition’s deputy leader and its shadow tourism minister, asked earlier: “Where are we in terms of a search for a CEO and how likely are we going to be to be able to get a Bermudian in that position?” Mr DeSilva responded later: “He’s only been gone a couple of hours so that replacement will take a normal course or maybe it won’t, depends on the situation.” He said that in businesses throughout the world “you may get one person leave and if they do maybe several will follow”. Mr DeSilva added: “I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t know what they’re going to do. The board and Mr Dallas came to a conclusion and it is what it is. We will continue to have discussions with regard to the interim period and the people of Bermuda, and the world will find out in due course.” He disagreed that professionals don’t make “snap decisions”. Mr Dunkley claimed the answer provided by Mr DeSilva was “a little bit vague or evasive”. He added: “I would assume that he would be asking the board what’s going on ... there’s something else under there that I think needs to come out because I have been around for a while in business, in politics ... something don’t smell right.” Mr DeSilva later asked: “Do I have to remind anybody in this House, if they follow English football, how many managers have contracts and they’re fired on a day’s notice? “It happens every year, all year long.” Members of the Opposition asked if Mr Dallas was fired. The tourism minister replied: “No, I’m just using that as an example, or they leave, or they get sick, or they have personal problems, or they have other issues.” He added that if Mr Dunkley wanted further explanation he should talk to Mr Dallas or the BTA board. Mr DeSilva said: “One minute you’ll knock a minister for being too close, then you knock them for being too far.” The BTA board announced last Wednesday that the authority’s chief executive would step down to “pursue opportunities in the private sector”. The organisation added: “The BTA’s senior executive team will carry out interim leadership duties, while the BTA board launches a robust executive search for a new CEO for the organisation.” A post on Mr Dallas’ twitter account on Saturday said: “Team work makes dream work. For three years I’ve been incredibly privileged to work with an incredible group of people at @BTAInsights. I have no doubt this team, allowed to do their jobs, will take us to the next level by implementing the National Tourism Plan.”

paragraphA teenager who spent her childhood in foster care said the dedication of social workers and foster families helped her turn her life around. Tylasha DeSilva, 18, added that the kindness she had experienced had fuelled her desire to work in social services. She said: “I’ve been exposed to many different social workers who have all played important roles in my life, whether they be big or small. I want to become a social worker so I can be of service to vulnerable people in Bermuda.” Ms DeSilva, now a student at Bermuda College, had contact with several social workers as a youngster in foster care. She explained that she endured physical, psychological and sexual abuse as she grew up and found herself in a variety of foster homes. Ms DeSilva added: “My social workers placed me in amazing foster homes with women who interest me today. They kind of helped me to get through the process of moving out of homes and how to, despite everything, continue to push forward and to be successful with my foster families. If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have graduated.” Ms DeSilva, from Devonshire, was speaking at a ceremony on Monday to mark the start of Social Work Month. The event, at the Blue Room at Bermuda College in Paget, featured appearances by present and retired social workers and other members of childcare services. Ms DeSilva, who left the Berkeley Institute last year as head girl, realised her vocation on a six-month stint with the international performance group Up with People. She told the audience: “Before one performance in Palermo, Italy, we were told to write what we ‘burned’ for, put it in our back pockets and leave it there while we performed. This was the moment when I realised that what I burn for is the protection of children.” Ms DeSilva hopes to go to university in Canada in the autumn and wants to work with children, people with disabilities and seniors. She said: “I want every child to know that there is someone in this world that cares about them and who is willing to fight for them. Someone who will fight for a safe home, for a loving parent or parents, for a trusting environment, and for a successful future despite circumstances. This is what the social workers in my life did for me.” Kathy-Lynn Simmons, the Minister of Legal Affairs and the Attorney-General, highlighted the “heroic” work of social workers who worked to protect the vulnerable. She added: “Social workers are there to assist in times of personal and family crisis as well as natural disasters. We salute Bermuda’s social workers for their tireless efforts to bring about change and improve the lives of their fellow citizens.”

paragraphA campaign manager for the Progressive Labour Party died suddenly at the weekend. Keita Wilson was 45. Ms Wilson helped Tinee Furbert’s successful campaign for the St George’s South seat in the 2017 General Election. Ms Furbert said: “I am heartbroken and devastated by the loss of my very dear friend. The outreach has been tremendous for the support of Keita’s family and friends. She touched the lives of many and her spirit will live on. Life is precious and she was precious to many people. My love and support are with the family including her two beautiful sons and the many people who loved and cared for her.” A PLP spokeswoman said: “The Progressive Labour Party family was saddened to learn of the sudden death of Keita Wilson. She added Ms Wilson’s “guidance and support was instrumental in the victory” in St George’s South. The spokeswoman said: “Additionally, Ms Wilson volunteered her assistance in the past at the PLP gala. Ms Wilson will be sorely missed and we extend our sympathies to her sons, her family and her friends.”

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March 3

paragraphThe battle for equal marriage rights for same-sex couples will have its final day in court later this year. The Bermuda Government, which has appealed a Court of Appeal ruling that opened the way for same-sex marriages, confirmed that its last documents had been filed with the London-based Privy Council, Bermuda’s final court of appeal. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Legal Affairs said both sides had agreed on a statement of facts — where the parties concur on relevant details for the case — and filed it with the Registrar of the Privy Council. She added: “Enquiries are being made as to suitable dates for the hearing this matter in the latter part of this year.” Concerns were raised last month after the Government missed a deadline to file with the Privy Council by December 13 last year. Rod Attride-Stirling, who represents gay rights organisation OutBermuda and four other litigants, warned the delay raised a risk of dismissal of the case by the Privy Council’s judicial committee. But the ministry spokeswoman said that “contrary to a previous report in the media, the appeal was not at risk of being struck out, nor had any application been made to strike out the appeal”. The Royal Gazette understands, however, that the Government had to request special permission from the Privy Council judicial committee to file the statement late. The case can now be set down for a hearing at Britain’s top court. The right to same-sex marriage has been disputed in the courts and Parliament for several years, but the Privy Council’s ruling will settle the case one way or the other. The ruling will also set a precedent in the UK’s Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, as well as several of Britain’s former territories.

paragraphAn Opposition proposal to set up a Cabinet sub-committee to pave the way for an education authority is irrelevant, the education minister has claimed. Diallo Rabain added that another suggestion for the introduction of an assistant director for maths was made even though pupils already benefited from a specialist in the subject. Mr Rabain said: “The idea that a Cabinet sub-committee needs to be formed to lead education is laughable if the suggestion wasn’t so sad. “As we are moving to a system that removes political interference in education and introduces educators and persons of that calibre to lead education, I’m literally shocked that we would still have this suggestion. But if you go back to their election manifesto of 2017 they said the same thing.” He was speaking in the House of Assembly last Friday after Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Shadow Minister of Finance, delivered her Reply to the Budget for the new financial year. Ms Gordon-Pamplin said that the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance recommended the establishment of a Cabinet sub-committee to include the Premier and several ministers to “provide immediate active oversight and support” to make sure that Bermuda’s educational needs were delivered. She added: “One of the committee’s immediate priorities would be to lay the foundation for the exploration and development of an educational authority, which will remove the politics from education and provide consistent professional and accountable leadership to our public education system.” But Mr Rabain told MPs: “We have a suggestion here in the book, ‘we also offer a recommendation that the ministry have a dedicated assistant director of math education and a qualified supporting team to drive the delivery in conjunction with the Bermuda Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Guess what? When the One Bermuda Alliance came in, and when someone retired, they froze the post. There’s an important post within the Department of Education called the educational officer for math, that was frozen for five years under that government. All of a sudden now they have the solution, let’s bring one of them in. We already have a math consultant here that is improving our grades. We have one that ... was originally brought here by the Bermuda Council of Teachers of Mathematics two years ago and he is now on island and he is working with our teachers and our maths grades will show improvement and they’re already showing improvement.” Mr Rabain said the move was made after requests from teachers. He told the House: “When I see and read suggestions of more committees to study education this just makes me sigh. It makes me sigh because this Government is moving ahead with much needed school reform.” The minister said he was pleased that the OBA backed Plan 2022, the multiyear blueprint for the public school system. He added: “I will hold them to that statement because I have repeated in this House on several occasions we need to work together to ensure that education gets to where education needs to be because a sound education system supports Bermuda and benefits Bermuda as a whole. We are assembling educational development teams that include non-government persons to move education forward. We don’t need any more empty political promises that lead to no improvement. We’ve seen that already ... we’re going to do things much differently. When they want to extend their hand to say they will assist with education I take them for their word and I welcome them in because we are going to change education in Bermuda. We will phase out middle schools, we will return to a two-tier system and we will return the Bermuda public education system to the glory that it showed when I was in school, when all of us were in school and we produced quality graduates.”

paragraphRemarks made by a well-known entertainer on social media were roundly condemned in the House of Assembly yesterday. Kim Swan, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher, was the first to speak out about the “very insensitive comments”, which came from musician Tony Brannon, who apologised online earlier. Mr Swan explained: “Mr Brannon has referred to persons in the Government — in objection to the position the Government holds on immigration — as ‘you cockroaches need to open up immigration. It has become a firestorm and one which is most concerning.” The MP added: “Anyone in Bermuda, no matter what position they take, knows that immigration is one of the most racially emotive issues that comes up in our country.” Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker, told MPs that another comment posted by Mr Brannon included: “The cockroaches here wouldn’t even give you a PRC.” He said: “When we refer to cockroaches, regardless of who you are, we get the spray and try to kill them because we don’t want them in our houses or even around our houses. This statement is a very serious racial statement against black people and to refer to a government as cockroaches, a Bermudian local entertainer, I take great offence to that and many others take great offence to that.” Mr Burgess pointed out: “I don’t think all white people are racist, I really don’t, but what I do ask them, those that are not, they need to come out and condemn these types of statements.” Craig Cannonier, the leader of the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance, said that everyone in the House was concerned by the comments. Leah Scott, the OBA’s deputy leader, said: “The offence is not only that he can make such a comment, but that we have supported him economically and he has benefited from, essentially, benefited from cockroaches. So our money has value, but we have no value. He cannot think that this is acceptable, I’m sure that he has been told about the backlash and I don’t think that there’s anything that he can say that will change his remarks.” Ms Scott added: “He will never ever get another dime of mine.” Mr Brannon posted on Facebook yesterday: “I apologise and meant no racially motivated slur by using the term cockroach, though I was aware it is a negative term and used it in that context. I was not aware that some consider it a racist remark, and would never have used the word had I known. Former police commissioner Jonathan D. Smith pointed this out to me after I made a social media post, which I deleted, about a popular restaurant being empty on Saturday night.”

paragraphPolice have arrested a fifth man in connection with a daylight robbery of a gold dealer. A police spokesman said officers arrested a 34-year-old man on Friday. He added that the man was later released on bail pending further inquiries. The spokesman said: “The Bermuda Police Service would like to thank those members of the public who have come forward to assist with this investigation thus far. However, we know there are still individuals out there who have not come forward and we are appealing to these persons to make contact with the investigators.” The robbery at Gold Standard in Washington Mall in Hamilton was at about 9.30am on January 29. Two raiders, one armed with what appeared to be a handgun, rode into the mall and smashed display cases in the shop just after it opened. Four men — aged between 19 and 24 — were earlier arrested in connection with the incident and released on bail.

paragraphBermuda is the 17th most expensive place in the world for broadband internet service, according to a survey of 206 countries. This is based on the average cost of a fixed-line broadband package, at $129.98, as measured by UK-based Cable.co.uk. Countries are ranked by the cheapness of such a package, meaning Bermuda places 190th. On the list, the island fares better than Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos, which were 194th, 198th and 203rd respectively. However, it trails Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Barbados, Guernsey, and Jersey. Of those, the most expensive is Jersey with an average package costing $80.14. Breaking down the average cost of a fixed-line broadband megabit, per month, shows Bermuda at $9.95, which is more expensive than all the previously mentioned jurisdictions; the next costliest is Cayman at $3.53. The broadband pricing list has been published annually for the past three years. Bermuda improved from 180th in 2017, to 175th in 2018, when the rankings featured 195 jurisdictions. When asked for its reaction to the island’s low position on the list, the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda, which oversees the electronic communications sector, said historical pricing suggests that Bermuda’s retail prices for broadband has been higher than in comparable countries. In addition, it said: “Consideration should also be given to what is being measured in the Cable.co.uk comparison, ie, whether the definition of ‘broadband’ is the same for each country; is the broadband offered as a stand-alone item or is it bundled with other options?” According to Cable.co.uk, its methodology included researchers selecting one package at each available speed from established providers in the countries included in the rankings, and where multiple packages have identical bandwidth, then selecting the cheapest option. Only consumer broadband packages were included. In Bermuda, 22 broadband packages were measured. Asked by The Royal Gazette if it was concerned about the difference in pricing between Bermuda and some comparable jurisdictions, and if there was anything it was able to do to improve this, the RA said it had analyzed retail broadband pricing in 2018. “As a result of the market review, the RA intends to monitor the cost efficiency of SMP [significant market power] broadband operators more closely. It also intends to conduct international benchmarking of prices in order to indirectly monitor the levels of operational efficiency of the SMP operators,” it said. The authority said it will accomplish this by comparing the prices charged by operators in countries with characteristics similar to Bermuda, adjusted for declining subscriber-base, economic productivity and standards of living between countries (such as purchasing power parity) to see whether the prices charged by the SMP operators in Bermuda are in line with these comparators. It added: “The RA is actively seeking the best outcomes that balance the needs of the consumers, sectoral providers and the broader economy.” It also said the final report on its Market Review is expected to be released in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2020-21. London-based Cable.co.uk operates to help customers compare broadband services and to offer advice. In a previous report it analyzed more than 250 million broadband speed tests to rank 207 countries by the average speed they offer. In that list, Bermuda improved from 67th to 55th between 2018 and 2019, with a mean download speed of 13.55Mbps. In comparison, Jersey was fourth with 67.46, Gibraltar’s speed was 20.27, Guernsey’s was 18.26, and Cayman’s was 16.12. Among those listed lower than Bermuda were Isle of Man with 11.04, Turks and Caicos with 8.78, and BVI with 7.75. The RA said several developments in Bermuda’s electronic communications sector have occurred over the past few years, “and that some of these developments have helped to improve consumer outcomes. For example, the roll-out of broadband network upgrades has led to faster internet connection speeds”. The authority was asked if it believed higher costs and lower speeds for broadband could be detrimental to the island’s development in the digital space. The RA said it believes “cost-effective, secure and reliable electronic communications services are essential to economic development in the modern era”. In addition, it said a moratorium on new Integrated Communications Operating Licences has been lifted by the Minster of Home Affairs to increase the level of competition. On January 27, the RA opened up a licensing period for new ICOLs. “It is anticipated that the addition of new competition should serve to deliver better outcomes for Bermuda,” it said.

paragraphThe Royal Gazette is to introduce a “paywall” that would require readers to pay for some of the content on its website. The move comes as the newspaper’s parent company, Bermuda Press Holdings Ltd, plans to transition its publishing division’s offerings to a “digital first” platform. “The goal is to grow subscription revenues through the introduction of a pay wall to monetise our online content, while at the same time maintaining the printed newspaper,” Stephen Thomson, chairman of BPHL, wrote in his report to shareholders in the group’s annual report. “We believe this is the right strategy and now is the right time as it will ensure the future success of the newspaper.” Mr Thomson said a new software platform was selected in late 2019 to effect the digital first change. He added that during the first half of 2020 the new systems would be installed and management would implement the necessary changes to the business model. “Technology will continue to change the world and the importance of independent, unbiased journalism from a trusted source has never been more important,” Mr Thomson said. “Fake news is everywhere and we must continue to offer our audience a timely, reliable and trusted source for news.” He added: “The Royal Gazette will continue to print a daily newspaper and the editorial team will focus on continuing to produce the highest quality of reporting.” His comments in BPHL’s annual report, filed yesterday with the Bermuda Stock Exchange, came with the announcement that the company’s net profit fell by almost two-thirds to $738,000 in the year ended September 30, 2019. Operating revenue slipped by $1.5 million to $23.02 million compared to the prior year, while operating expenses fell by $1.17 million to $22.09 million. In addition to The Royal Gazette, BPHL owns commercial printing, real estate and retail interests. The rental segment was the biggest earner, producing net income of $2.46 million, while the publishing and retail division made a $1.14 million loss and the commercial printing segment, a $585,000 loss. Mr Thomson said that “in the absence of healthy local economic growth, certain business divisions will struggle to be profitable” and added that the company would mitigate and manage this risk. The BPHL chairman lamented the lack of decisive action from the Government to support the economy, particularly in the areas of immigration reform and education, adding that this inaction was “costing Bermudians dearly”. He described the last ten years as a “lost decade” for Bermuda. “The challenges facing Bermuda, both internally and externally, have been continually kicked around in a scoreless game of political football at the expense of Bermudians and no decisive action has been taken,” Mr Thomson wrote. “Instead we continue to perpetuate the culture of ‘No’ and demonstrate that we are not capable of being bold, nimble or embracing change.” He added: “The inability of Government to address the issues facing our economy is unacceptable and the sheer lack of will, or perhaps ability, to effect change is costing Bermudians dearly. It is time that all Bermudians stand up and demand action.” Long-promised immigration reforms were particularly costly to the economy, as the population fell, he said. “The decline in population is having a ripple effect in the economy and impedes the ability of all local businesses to remain viable,” Mr Thomson said. “Many in the business community believe that the true population of Bermuda is lower than what is being estimated by reports from the Department of Statistics. Bermudians cannot continue to sit by idly and allow changes in policies and procedures relating to the issuance of work permits that make attracting talent more difficult. We must focus on making residing in Bermuda more attractive with real immigration reform based on plans to stabilize and grow the population. Senior executives and their families, who have been resident in Bermuda for many years and are net positive contributors to the economy; we must retain these people.” He said the island should consider alternative options to attract wealthy individuals. “Commercial tourism and immigration both offer economic benefit to Bermuda and can be structured in a way that does not present any risk of disadvantaging Bermudians in the job market,” Mr Thomson added. “Many other jurisdictions have experienced the benefits of welcoming family offices and wealthy individuals wishing to retire to a warmer climate.” He also urged education reforms, saying that the system had, for two decades, “failed to provide our youth with the quality of education and skills required to compete and excel in the local economy”. Mr Thomson added: “There are many options that need to be explored, such as providing vouchers to local private schools or overseas boarding schools. The cost of such a system, if we were to guarantee a certain number of students per school, is comparable to what it costs us to educate a student in Bermuda and the quality of education is higher. Thinking outside the box to reform the education system should be the number one priority of our government, regardless of who the ruling party is, as the problem has persisted for far too long.” Mr Thomson, who has served as the chairman of BPHL for the past six years, announced his intention to retire from the company’s board of directors this year.

paragraphTwo Bermudian chefs, fresh off their collaboration with international culinary star Eric Adjepong, are launching a weekly culinary experience to carry forward January’s sell-out Restaurant Weeks dinner. After teaming up with Mr Adjepong of Bravo TV’s Top Chef fame to host Bermuda’s Culture & Heritage Dinner at Fourways Restaurant, Jaelen Steede and Raeven White of Hamilton’s BermyEats Café are serving up a new food-and-wine experience for local and visiting foodies. Kicking off on Friday at the Chancery Lane venue, “Cultural Bites” is an infusion of popular courses from January’s history-inspired dinner, served canape-style with freshly-harvested foods and locally-sourced ingredients, the Bermuda Tourism Authority said. Mr Steede said: “We want to create a food happy hour focusing on the best dishes from our cultural collaboration with Chef Eric. What January’s dinner showed us is that people look for new and unique food experiences that tell Bermuda’s stories. As BermyEats Café is a place that connects people to Bermudian-inspired dishes, we will transform our space into an energetic atmosphere all about our food culture.” During its ninth winter-season edition of Restaurant Weeks, the BTA worked with restaurant partners, farmers and local entrepreneurs to re-imagine and deliver new food experiences in unique locations throughout the island, the organisation said. Glenn Jones, chief experience development officer at the BTA, said: “Our collaboration with Chef Eric and local tastemakers created an unforgettable food experience, but the true win for us as experience developers is transforming the magic of that evening into a legacy that benefits Bermudian entrepreneurs.” Cultural Bites takes place at BermyEats, Chancery Lane, Hamilton every Friday from 5.30pm until 8.30pm in March, and includes a live local DJ and wine to complete the new food happy-hour event. Tickets are $35 per person and available at ptix.bm/culturalbites.

paragraphA half-day construction and trade industry conference set for Thursday is designed to provide employers with the answers they need on a range of topical issues. The event, “2020 Vision: Straight Up. No Chaser” will include sessions on recruitment and immigration policy trends, the economy, changes to the Employment Act and workers compensation requirements, changes to the Pensions Act, as well as issues surrounding the new health plan proposed by Government. The conference kicks off at 11am with a presentation on recruitment and immigration trends by The Catalyst Group Ltd. At noon, the session “Bermuda 2020: What’s next?” features panellists Craig Simmons, senior economics professor, Bermuda College; Penny MacIntyre, partner, Rego Sotheby’s International Realty; Will Irvine, executive director, Construction Association of Bermuda; Robert Stubbs, economist, Seed Bermuda; Audley Campbell, Limestone Construction Ltd; and Phil Barnett, president, Island Restaurant Group. Peter Sousa, director of the Bermuda Pension Commission, will speak at 2pm on changes to the National Pension Act 1998 and what it means for non-Bermudian workers. The day will wrap up with a presentation at 3pm entitled “Bermuda National Health Plan: Unified v Universal?”, followed by networking cocktails. The conference will be held at the Vasco da Gama club on Reid Street, Hamilton.

paragraphThe International Triathlon Union has confirmed that MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda will go ahead as planned next month despite fears over the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The event, scheduled for April 18 and 19 was in doubt after the ITU and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council last week postponed the first of the ITU World Triathlon Series in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, as a protection measure against the spread of the virus. Covid-19 has more than 90,000 confirmed cases and 3,000 deaths worldwide. But Bermuda organisers and the ITU have confirmed the preparations will continue as scheduled for the series, which will include a first for the island, a Paratriathlon World Cup Series event on Sunday, April 19. Antonio Fernandez Arimany, the ITU secretary-general, said the situation would be monitored with guidance from the World Health Organisation. He added: “We can confirm at this stage that Bermuda’s World Triathlon Series is scheduled to continue as planned. The ITU continues to monitor the situation closely, following advice from the World Health Organisation, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee. We are holding continuous talks with event organisers, National Federations, teams, coaches and athletes to assess the risk and to ensure athletes’ safety.” The ITU has advised all competing triathletes that the remaining races on the ITU calendar in Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada were scheduled to take place. A spokesman said: “At this moment, no other measures have been taken and all the other events in the calendar continue as per the official ITU calendar. In case a situation on any host country changes, ITU will take the appropriate measures in co-operation with the local organising committees and the local authorities to keep the athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and staff’s safety as the first priority. If any changes happen in the near future, ITU will communicate immediately to all stakeholders the new situation.” The season opener was scheduled to take place on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, but the decision to postpone the event was triggered by the presence of the infection in the area, as well as the quarantines and travel restrictions imposed by different governments and travel companies, which made it impossible to host the event. About 300 elite athletes and more than 2,500 age group athletes and scholars were expected to compete in the UAE, including Bermuda’s Flora Duffy. The two-times ITU World Triathlon Series World Champion had hoped to get her season under way in Abu Dhabi and, despite her disappointment at the postponement, praised the organisers’ caution. Duffy, who hopes to be a medal contender at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer, wrote on Instagram: “So the news is out, @wtsabudhabi is postponed due to the Coronavirus outbreak in the area.” She added: “Thanks to the ITU, LOC and local government for making a swift and safe decision. I was really looking forward to starting the season but I guess I’ll have to wait a few more weeks!” Covid-19 has also threatened the Olympic Games in Tokyo, although Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee president, has said that the organisation was “fully committed” to holding the Olympics on schedule, from July 24 to August 9. The MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda is the next on the seven-series circuit, which will end with the World Championships and Grand Finals in Edmonton, Canada, in August. Bermuda will host the ITU World Championships and Age Group Grand Finals in October, 2021.

paragraphTop local female cyclist Caitlin Conyers continues to draw attention on the international scene after another impressive performance, this time in the Tour of Southern Highlands in Northern Georgia. Competing in the Pro 1 women’s category against some top competition, Conyers gave a solid display of commitment, consistency and confidence over four tough stages to clinch a place on the podium, finishing third overall along with renowned professionals and event winner Flavia Oliveira and second place Summer Moak. “Flavia came seventh in the Olympics in Brazil in 2016 and won the mountain jersey in the Giro d’Italia in 2014, she is a beast,” said an understandably delighted Conyers. On stage one, a hilly 17 kilometre individual time-trial Conyers placed fifth, one minute and 30 seconds behind the winner Moak with a strong display. “There was a lot of climbing on the course, and afterwards my goal was to work to improve my place in the overall standings,” she added. It was not long before she had the opportunity to do just that as she lined up later that day for stage two, a night-time criterium event on a tight technical course made even more challenging by the 40-degree temperatures. Despite not being her favourite discipline, a sixth-place finish kept her position on general classification without any loss of time, and after an eighth place the following day in stage three, a 32-mile circuit race over eight, four-mile laps her ability to stay in contention at the front group of about 20 riders fighting for position gave her confidence ahead of the following days final stage, a 75-mile road race. Starting in 28-degree temperatures, over a five-lap stage four course including two tough climbs on each lap, race leader Oliveira broke away building over a four-minute lead leaving the rest of the field to contest second place. On the final climb Conyers made a bold move and attacked the rest of the riders opening a gap to take second on the day and move up to third on the final general classification. “I am extremely happy with my result and am returning to Arizona to train before racing the Joe Martin Stage Race in April which is a UCI event and has a lot of the top professional women racing,” Conyers, who competed at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, last summer. “I have a guest ride with Lux Specialized Development Team, which I am excited about. Later in April, I am racing the Redlands Classic in California.”

paragraphIn an effort to provide customers with savings on groceries, The MarketPlace has launched a programme that gives access to “20 to 30 quality items” at low prices each month. This will be in addition to its normal bi-weekly specials, the company said. The programme is called Every Day Low Prices and comes after “months of aggressive discussions” between MarketPlace and its suppliers, and collaboration with the Cost of Living Commission. The company said that at the beginning of each month, customers will have access to a variety of 20 to 30 items at reduced prices that will take effect from the first day of each month until the last day of the month. Seth Stutzman, president of The MarketPlace, said: “We have listened to our customers and are thrilled to introduce our new Every Day Low Prices programme. Our team has worked diligently to develop this sustainable programme for lower price goods for a longer period, the only programme of its kind in Bermuda. We have worked aggressively with our suppliers to achieve lower priced goods and can now deliver these greater cost savings to our customers. The MarketPlace has always strived to deliver quality items at lower prices and this programme is our latest effort. We are focused on saving our customers money, while offering great value for money.” In addition, last month MarketPlace launched its Value Bag scheme for $29.99, which it said provides a cost savings of $14.49. The Value Bag consists of 16 select everyday grocery items: apple juice, bread, canned evaporated milk, canned peas and carrots, flour, jam, pasta sauce, peanut butter, rice, spaghetti, sugar, tea bags, toilet tissue and Vienna sausages. There are no substitutions on items included in the Value Bag. MarketPlace said its goal is to provide “high quality goods at affordable prices with the continuous aim to reduce the cost of groceries in Bermuda for our hard-working customers”.

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paragraphPremier David Burt defended his Government’s role in supporting job creation during an economic debate in the House of Assembly. The premier told MPs on Friday night that Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the shadow finance minister, talked about “doom and gloom”. He claimed that her Reply to the Budget 2020-21 did not mention “the reality” when it was delivered earlier that day. Mr Burt said: “The reality is that last year job growth in Bermuda was the fastest paced it has been in 13 years. Four hundred and forty-one additional jobs inside of the Bermuda economy, but what do we hear? Not a dickey bird about jobs in that speech.” He said the only reference to the topic in the Budget Reply was about a “loss of jobs of many Bermudian employees”. Mr Burt added: “Complete nonsense. Disconnected from reality.” The Premier told the House that the Opposition claimed that his Progressive Labour Party administration “failed to lay out an economic growth and diversification strategy and failed to address the biggest elephant in the room, that of needing more people to contribute to the economy”. Mr Burt said: “You know how you get more people to contribute to an economy? You create jobs.” He added: “There are 650 more people working in Bermuda now than there were when we took office.” The Premier explained: “We know that there are a number of mergers which have taken place in international business, which have led to a contraction of jobs in certain areas.” But, he said there were 55 more jobs in the sector than there were in 2017. Mr Burt added: “Despite the mergers, despite the economic headwinds, we are still creating jobs in international business inside this country. That is because of the work and advocacy of this government, of the agencies that work with this government, of the work of which we’ve done on the international sphere.” Craig Cannonier, the One Bermuda Alliance leader, described the Budget Statement delivered by Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, last month, as a “status quo Budget”. He added that Budgets were just numbers and that their effectiveness was “reflected in how our people are doing”. Mr Cannonier said: “Bermuda’s reality continues to be the concern over our debt. Bermuda’s reality continues to be the cost of living in Bermuda. Bermuda’s reality continues to be that confidence is low, accountability is questioned, emigration seems to be growing, the young are frustrated, businesses who employ a majority of Bermudians are closing, and ... now we have more deaths than births. This is a major, major problem.” Jason Hayward, a PLP backbencher, said that Ms Gordon-Pamplin’s Budget Reply had “glaring omissions about the state of our economy”. He added: “The facts are our economy grew in 2017, it grew in 2018. In 2019, for the first two quarters, the economy grew, on average by 3½ per cent. That is contrary to the rhetoric that is spewed by some. It is contrary to the narrative of doom and gloom spewed by some.” Mr Hayward said the Government was elected to “ensure more Bermudians are employed”. He added: “In 2019, we broke the trend of declining Bermudian employment. Bermudian jobs are up.” Mr Hayward said that “numbers across the board are trending in the right direction”.

paragraphThe Minister of Finance is planning to introduce Civil Service payroll numbers to Budget Books so as to provide greater clarity on the size of the public sector. Curtis Dickinson admitted that an understanding of the figures used in recent years needed “a lot more commentary” than might be expected. He responded to remarks from Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the shadow finance minister, who said in her Reply to the Budget 2020-21 that criticism over the size of the Civil Service was based on numbers for actual full-time equivalents in the Government’s Budget Books. Mr Dickinson told the House of Assembly in the early hours of last Saturday that he studied the numbers around page A12 in the previous six or seven Budget Books and “even created some pretty-looking charts”. He explained: “It’s difficult. What appears to be simple requires a lot more commentary than you would necessarily believe needs to be the case. So in my own efforts to make Government more accessible and more transparent, I realised that I had the ability to change what appears in these books, and so I’m going to change it. I’m going to leave the stuff that’s there already, I’m just going to add to it because I’m concerned that any changes that I make will be misinterpreted as me trying to cover up the numbers. What we are going to add to them is the payroll numbers because what will be observed over the course of the last four years that I have the data, is that the payroll numbers have barely changed.” He explained that the average figure for each of the fiscal years from 2016-17 to 2019-20 was 4,610, 4,529, 4,592 and 4,577 respectively. "The reason why the payroll numbers are important is because it reflects the number of people who actually collect paycheques and you have to be employed in the normal circumstances to collect the paycheque.” Ms Gordon-Pamplin, of the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance, said in her Budget Reply that the Government had denied any “expansion of the Civil Service”, after the Progressive Labour Party swept to power in July 2017. She said: “They allege that comments to the contrary are nothing but frivolous falsehood. The numbers that are the subject of this criticism have been taken from the Government’s own Budget Books reflecting actual full-time equivalents.” Her Budget reply said that according to the documents, the figures for the years 2014-15 to 2018-19 were 5,181, 4,899, 4,707, 4,764 and 4,806 respectively. It added that the revised estimate for 2019-20, which ends on March 31, was 4,942 and the estimated figure for 2020-21 was 5,076. Ms Gordon-Pamplin said: “As the finance minister has indicated, facts are important and the numbers speak for themselves. The recent legislation allowing for the appointment of political advisers and consultants has been utilised extensively, and these numbers, although a cost to the public purse both in terms of remuneration and benefits, are not included in the FTE numbers.” However, David Burt, the Premier, told the House: “As was stated in the Budget Statement, in December 2016 there were 4,470 people on the government payroll.” Mr Burt added: “The most accurate figure which deals with the amount of persons that are working for the Government are the amounts of people that are paid, that is the most accurate figure and that figure, in three years, declined by 24. So between 2016 and 2019, at the end of the year, that figure was 24 less.” The Premier added: “There are a grand total of six advisers, the same that were in place when the Bill was put into place, so this whole issue of ‘extensively’ is a complete nonsense. But here’s the thing, you know that 4,470 number and that 4,446 number? It includes them, too, because I asked the department.” Mr Burt explained that he was told a miscellaneous category included workers not attached to collective bargaining agreements, such as summer students, seasonal employees and “political appointments” among others. Jamahl Simmons, the Minister without Portfolio, said earlier that “the analysis that best reflects” staff levels was the number of people paid to work for the Government. He added: “The number that they cite for 2020-21, 5,076, represents all established posts funded and partially funded. It is the total number that a ministry would like to hire, with no guarantee they will be hired. It’s a difference between what we do and what we would like to do.”

paragraphLegislation tackling gaming in Bermuda is coming, the finance minister said. And Curtis Dickinson confirmed that the sector would use a cashless system. Mr Dickinson said that the Government was “finishing up” work to sort out banking issues that surround gaming. He added: “There is a bunch of work that is being done on betting. That legislation will come before this chamber in due course.” The update was provided in the House of Assembly as MPs debated the Opposition’s Budget Reply on Friday night. Mr Dickinson, who has had oversight of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission for the past 16 months, said that political influence had not slowed progress. He added: “I can say categorically that I have never interfered in any decisions that the commission has taken.” Mr Dickinson said that it was important to discuss honestly what had happened at the BCGC. He explained: “It is not uncommon in the corporate world, or in government, when there is a change in leadership, that the new leader may want to put in place their own team. That’s what happened here — no more, no less. And what usually happens is the team in place typically honours the request of the new leadership. That didn’t happen in this case.” Alan Dunch, a director at MJM law firm, quit as chairman of the BCGC in November 2017, days after the Government tabled legislation to oust him and put the commission under ministerial control. Richard Schuetz, an American casino industry veteran, resigned as executive director of the commission on the morning of the General Election in July 2017. He stayed in the post until the end of that year. Mr Dickinson said a narrative that political interference was to blame for banks not getting involved with the sector was “patently untrue”. He told MPs that in late 2016 the Bermuda Bankers Association said that it was “not prepared to bank gaming in Bermuda”. Mr Dickinson said that the BBA indicated that one organisation would not get behind the move, while two others, including Butterfield Bank, indicated they were willing to work on the issue. He said: “I know this because I was an executive vice-president in charge of treasury for Butterfield Bank.” The minister said that he, along with late tourism minister Shawn Crockwell, Mr Dunch and Mr Schuetz, travelled to New York City to meet with representatives from the Bank of New York, Butterfield’s lead co-respondent bank. Mr Dickinson said: “The Bank of New York explained to us their reticence around gaming. It’s a high-risk activity, and they didn’t want to expose their organisation to it. That was part of the reason why Butterfield was cautious about it.” He added: “Over the course of my 16 months, we have been working through the issues.” Mr Dickinson said that, while still in the private sector, he had encouraged the BCGC to consider using a cashless model. He explained: “It minimizes the risk.” However, he said that advice was not taken by Mr Dunch. Mr Dickinson added: “The policy position for gaming now is that it is going to have a cashless system.” He said that Bermuda was “steps away from having a solution in place. We would have had one in place, but for the fact that the operators wanted a change in the construct that needed to be fleshed out with the banks. Discussions were had, the banks made their position very clear, and we now are on the fringes of having a solution for gaming in Bermuda.” Mr Dickinson also disputed any suggestion that staff at the BCGC had been “sitting around dithering for the better part of two years”. He added that there was also an “assertion” that legislation and regulations were ready to be put in place when the Progressive Labour Party became the Government after the General Election in 2017. Mr Dickinson said: “The team seems to think otherwise. Given that they were the ones working on the legislation and the regulations, I’m more inclined to support their version of the events than others.”

paragraphFailure to fix education in Bermuda would be a disservice to the trailblazers that came before, an honouree at a Black History Month celebration said. Gil Tucker said: “If we don’t fix education, I believe we will have disappointed our ancestors and failed our future generations. “We will have missed the true spirit of Black History Month.” Mr Tucker was speaking at an event to mark Black History Month at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club on Saturday night. He was recognised along with fellow honouree Ruth Thomas. Mr Tucker was the only black pupil in his class throughout his years at Saltus Grammar School. The former chairman at professional services firm EY today serves as the board chairman at the private school in Pembroke. He told event attendees that any changes to education must be made with a single focus in mind: “What is in the best interest of the students.” Mr Tucker said: “We cannot leave this to the politicians. They can’t do it. We have to help them and show them how important it is to us. We have to demand change.” Mr Tucker said that while it was nice to relive the past, focus must be concentrated on the future. He explained: “I don’t think black history is just to recount and revisit the tragedies, triumphs of our ancestors. I think it’s a way to celebrate the doors that those journeys have opened and to showcase the possibilities now afforded to generations today.” Mr Tucker said that the work and achievements of black Bermudians that had come before had been difficult. He added: “We cannot use ‘it’s hard’ as an excuse. “It was hard for Dr [E.F.] Gordon, it was hard for Gerald and Izola Harvey, and Vera Commissiong and the Progressive Group. It was hard — but they did not shy away from doing it. We just can’t use hard as an excuse.” Mr Tucker said the event also served as a reminder of the “obligation to keep moving forward. We can do things like name streets after our heroes, we can name buildings after our heroes, but I believe the best way to honour them is to prepare our generation with the tools necessary to fix the challenges that are rapidly coming. It’s to prepare them so that they can soar to future heights.” Mr Tucker said that the best way he knew how to prepare people for the future was through education. He added: “We need to change education.” Mr Tucker told attendees that he had served on a committee related to Bermuda’s new airport that “caused an awful lot of passion in our community”. He said: “If we can get that passionate over an airport, then we should be able to get passionate over the education of youth.” Ms Thomas, a teacher and education administrator, said that many Bermudians were familiar with the achievements of Black American pioneers. However, she added: “We know precious little about our very own people.” Ms Thomas said that Bermuda’s black history was “fully woven into our island’s history”. She added: “We have been major threads in the weaving of our island’s cultural tapestry. We were the first to insert diversity into the culture. We brought some colour to this island.” Ms Thomas helped create Bermuda’s first government preschools and became the education officer responsible for early childhood education in 1972. She was also the island’s first cultural affairs officer and has worked for years on the preservation of Bermuda’s history and traditions. Ms Thomas urged people to “tell your stories. Nothing is unimportant. If you think you are too small to make a difference, just try sleeping in a room with a light out with a mosquito. Tell them the history, tell them the stories. Don’t just be keepers of the stories, pass them on. Until the lions have their own stories, the stories about them will always glorify the hunters.”

paragraphRequiring first-time homebuyers to live in their property for three years before receiving stamp duty relief has seen sales under a government programme “grind to a halt”, a leading real estate industry figure said. Sharon Cranfield, chairwoman of the real estate division of the Chamber of Commerce, said the initiative that gives first-time homebuyers tax relief on homes purchased for $750,000 or less was “until 2019 successful in stimulating first-time buyer sales for both old and young Bermudians”. But she added: “In the last year we have seen it grind to a halt because the three years the first-time homebuyer must live in the unit is now required to be fulfilled before the relief is awarded. Our first-time homebuyers need the relief upfront, not three years down the line. This is now a major issue to those purchasers.” Ms Cranfield said the chamber would like to hear more about the Government’s “15-month exclusive arrangement with one of the local banks to advance the development of a mortgage guarantee programme”, which was announced in the Budget Statement last month. The Government said the programme will be “designed to deliver lower financing costs to middle-class families seeking to secure mortgages of $750,000 or less”. Ms Cranfield said: “The real estate division is very much in support of the Minister of Finance’s efforts to advance measures to stimulate the real estate market. However, we, like the general public, would like further detail on assistance measures that are to be put in place as regards $750,000 and below mortgages. “We welcome the opportunities that this will present and look forward to working alongside the Bermuda Government and the bank in advising and assisting these buyers.”

paragraphThe Royal Gazette in conjunction with The Washington Post News Service and Bloomberg News will live-stream the major events during this US election year. Voters head to the polls in the Super Tuesday primaries in 14 states on March 3. The outcome will go a long way towards deciding the Democratic nomination for the US presidential election. Joe Biden’s resounding victory in South Carolina has raised his supporters’ hopes of catching front-runner Bernie Sanders. Part-time Bermuda resident Michael Bloomberg will appear on ballots for the first time, having skipped the first four contests. Our Super Tuesday live-stream programme will begin at 8pm Bermuda time, bringing you the results as they come in, along with interviews speeches and expert opinions. Libby Casey will anchor from the Washington Post newsroom and will be joined by James Hohmann, of the Daily 202, and Dave Weigel, author of The Trailer, as well as the Fix political team of Aaron Blake, Amber Phillips, and Eugene Scott. Live analysis will be powered by the Post’s engineering team who will be bringing live results to our viewers from a special, new studio specifically designed to house a complete data elections team led by Jeremy Bowers and Emily Guskin will lead viewers through the latest results at precinct, township and county levels. We will bring you all of the candidate speeches live, and have reporters travelling with each of the campaigns. Additionally, Lillian Cunningham, the host and creator of the Post’s popular “Presidential” podcast will provide historical context about the origins of Super Tuesday.

Full list of events

paragraphHSBC Bermuda’s net profit rose 3 per cent to $143 million last year. Total operating income before expected credit losses was $281 million, in line with the prior year. The bank said decreases in net interest income were offset by higher net fee income, dealing profits, and gains on financial investments. Change in expected credit losses for 2019 was a $9 million charge, compared to a $3 million release in 2018. The charge was mainly incurred on residential mortgage lending, the bank said. The overall level of impaired loans remained consistent at around $360 million. Total operating expenses decreased by $14 million, or 10 per cent, to $129 million, as a result of lower litigation expenses and prudent cost controls, the bank said. The cost efficiency ratio improved in 2019 to 46 per cent from 51 per cent in 2018. Steve Banner, chief executive officer and director, HSBC Bermuda, said: “The level of expected credit losses for the year was higher than last year but within expectations. Our balance sheet remains conservatively positioned from a capital and liquidity perspective.” He added: “The results for the 2019 financial year demonstrate the resilience of our business in Bermuda. Our revenues remained stable, despite some headwinds, and we managed our costs prudently. During the year we helped many Bermudian companies gain access to international capital and continued to fulfil our objective of providing international connectivity for Bermuda.” Total assets increased by 4 per cent over the year to $8.38 billion as of December 31, 2019. Total loans and advances to customers were $2.17 billion the end of last year, a fall of 1 per cent from 12 months earlier. Total allowance for expected credit losses as a percentage of total gross loans and advances to customers decreased marginally to 5.6 per cent at December 31, 2019, compared with 5.7 per cent at the prior year end. Total capital adequacy ratio was 24 per cent at year end, a decrease from 26 per cent a year earlier. Mr Banner added: “I was proud to see HSBC’s continued support for the local community. In 2019 our staff contributed over 1,300 hours of volunteering for worthy local causes during company time. On behalf of the board, I would like to thank all our customers for placing their trust in HSBC and our hard-working employees for their dedication in serving our customers and our community.”

paragraphRepairs have begun on a section of Railway Trail located in the Bailey’s Bay, Hamilton Parish area, closed to the public closed since late November 2019. The Ministry of Public Works reported that the stabilization specialists have completed their structural assessment of the area and plans to reinforce the area commenced today as scheduled earlier. In order to accommodate completing the works as soon as possible, a section of railway trail between the two footbridges will be closed to the public. In addition to directly reinforcing and stabilizing the rock face, the Ministry will construct two retaining walls that will further strengthen the area. It is anticipated the work will be completed by the end of May 2020, however, due to the unpredictable nature of ground and rock formations, unexpected delays may occur. Barriers and signs will continue to mark and inform the public of the closed section of Railway Trail. The Ministry apologizes for any inconvenience and urges the public to adhere to the posted signs.

paragraphA deal that presents the opportunity for Athene Holding Ltd to be included in a major S&P index, such as the S&P 500, has been concluded. The Bermuda-based retirement services company has concluded a “strategic transaction” with its partner Apollo Global Management Inc. Among other things, the transaction eliminates Athene’s multi-class share structure, increase Apollo’s economic ownership of Athene to around 34 per cent and added about $1 billion of incremental excess capital for Athene. In a statement, the company said the transaction had closed having obtained customary shareholder and regulatory approvals. Jim Belardi, chief executive officer of Athene, said: “We are pleased to announce the closing of this strategic transaction between Athene and our longstanding strategic partner, Apollo. With the recent overwhelming shareholder approval, Athene has eliminated its historical multi-class share structure and is now fully eligible for inclusion in a major S&P index. Importantly, this transaction will broaden our appeal to a wider range of both active and passive investors. We view our new direct investment in Apollo as strategic in nature, and look forward to participating in Apollo’s robust growth, profitability, and yield characteristics.” While Leon Black, chairman and CEO of Apollo, said: “We are tremendously excited to announce the completion of this important strategic transaction, which we believe meaningfully enhances value for both Apollo and Athene shareholders. Athene and Apollo have developed a special and symbiotic relationship since Athene’s inception more than a decade ago. By nearly doubling our ownership in Athene to approximately 34 per cent, we are reinforcing the durability of our relationship, and enhancing the strong alignment between the two companies. In addition, as a result of Athene’s new ownership stake in Apollo, which represents its single largest investment, Athene now has a direct economic interest in Apollo’s financial success for the first time.” Athene was set up in Bermuda in 2009 with four employees. It now has more than 1,300 employees worldwide. Last year it doubled its profit to $2.136 billion.

paragraphThe Bermuda office of London-based re/insurance specialist Neon is to remain open for at least another four months, a spokesperson said. “Neon is keeping an office open until at least June as it manages an orderly run off,” she said. It was announced in November that the office was due to close because of the company’s decision to exit the property treaty reinsurance space due to a lack of sustainable and appropriate returns. While the office remains open, no more new business is being entertained. Neon, which opened a Bermuda office in 2016, is a member of Great American Insurance Group, which runs the insurance operations of parent American Financial Group.

paragraphEntrepreneurs in the Ignite Bermuda hub are encouraged to keep constant tabs on the health of their businesses. Now, they have been reminded to focus on their own wellbeing, too. Adriene Berkeley is a chartered psychologist and registered neuroscientist who works at Solstice Bermuda, the holistic wellness centre in Hamilton. Invited to address the Ignite cohort, she told them about her “entrepreneurial equation”, where their personality traits and personal characteristics, combined with vulnerability factors related to their entrepreneurial endeavours such as stress, uncertainty, self-doubt and social isolation, produced a dangerous cocktail that made them 50 per cent more likely to report having a mental health condition. She said they were twice as likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress, six times more likely to suffer from ADHD, ten times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder, twice as likely to have a psychiatric hospitalization, twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts, and three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse, including alcohol. Dr Berkeley says mental health is on a spectrum, and includes wellbeing. She said: “Who they are as entrepreneurs is a factor making them vulnerable to mental distress, or having a mental disorder. Their personality already leads them to this side of the spectrum. It’s who they are.” Entrepreneurs must be able to recognise warning signs of difficulty, including issues related to emotions, behaviour, and cognitive ability as well as physical manifestations such as fatigue, increased heart rate, breathing problems and fluctuations in weight, she said. Dr Berkeley said a sound business plan should include provisions for self-care. Self-management strategies, she says, can include taking breaks from work, putting aside regular times for relaxation, regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and eating nutritious meals. “Not one person in the cohort could say they were doing all these things,” Dr Berkeley said. Strategies to optimize wellbeing, she said, can include forming a network with others who understand the demands on entrepreneurs, catching up with a friend, visiting a favourite place, incorporating spirituality, finding an appropriate work-life balance, looking after one’s physical health, doing things that genuinely make one happy, and learning how to say “no”. Dr Berkeley said: “Get off the hamster wheel. If you have a home-based business, downtime needs to be downtime. You have to create boundaries. Entrepreneurs could mark the end of their work day with a ritual. That could be a session of mindfulness, or a period of reflection, or even writing in a gratitude journal. Find a strategy that helps you to unpack the end of the day. Whatever you decide, it can’t be a chore to do. Be kind to yourself, that is what self-care is all about. It is not selfish to care for your needs. A lot of mental disorders are the result of a lack of appropriate coping skills. You can’t change something that you are not aware of so I showed the cohort how their mindset and personality can contribute to psychological distress and mental disorder. Having that awareness means that they are more likely to change their behaviour and actually take on these strategies.” The benefits of self-care, she said, include an improved quality of life, better relationships, a reduction in the symptoms of ill mental health, greater productivity, better physical health, and a greater capacity to manage stress. Helping people to cope with stressors is a passion for Dr Berkeley, a Saltus Grammar School graduate who attended the University of Reading before earning a master’s degree in neuroscience from King’s College in London, and a doctorate in psychology from City University, London. The level of stress involved in modern workplaces, Dr Berkeley says, has become normalized. “Jobs are more likely to cater to you if you have a physical issue,” she says. “Society has made it normal to be under psychological strain or distress, we have been conditioned to be okay with living with mental stress. I see it all the time in corporate spaces. It’s the norm, but you’re not meant to live like that.” Her talk seemed to resonate with the Ignite cohort, Dr Berkeley said. “Definitely, a lot of people took on board what I said, and reached out to me,” she says. “People recognised that they had these difficulties. I just wanted to create awareness and try to prevent ‘vulcanizing’, where things start to build to the point of erupting. That is the point of self-care. Putting your needs first is not selfish.” Sean Reel, executive director at Ignite, said: “It was great to have this talent in the hub, talking to entrepreneurs and bringing clinical experience and an understanding of neuroscience. The thing that surprised me was that the mental attributes that we associate with being an entrepreneur make good mental health and wellness a challenge. When she showed us the data, it was enlightening and frightening. Emerging entrepreneurs need to be more open about our challenges, and feel comfortable about talking to others about these challenges. Since Dr Berkeley’s visit, there has been a period of reflection about what this means for entrepreneurs, and how we help them navigate high performance while maintaining optimal mental health.”

paragraphBermuda Dance Academy members travelled to a convention in New Jersey last month. The convention was a chance to show off their skills to a wider audience. The students who attended welcomed the challenge head-on: two received scholarships and all 12 earned scores of “high gold” for their performances at the Adrenaline Dance showcase in New Jersey. “I wanted to expose their skills and challenge them artistically and was really pleased with how our kids did,” said Nikia Manders, the Dance Academy’s owner and director. “The feedback, as far as how the choreography and performances went, was good. It was nice for them to dance with other kids, most of whom perform five or six days a week and are studying at a higher level. But it was an opportunity for our kids to see what they can aspire and strive to.” The convention, which ran from February 14 to 16 at the Hyatt New Brunswick, was a showcase of roughly 400 dancers from seven schools. The BDA’s group of eight to 16-year-olds performed four dances: two hip-hop, one modern and one jazz. Sixteen family members travelled to see them along with Ms Manders and teachers Ashley Smith, Shawnae Brangman and Sierra Spencer. The experience took Ms Manders back to her childhood. Her mother, Linda, taught dance for 40 years at Warwick Secondary School and Clearwater Middle School and would often compete in Dancemakers conventions in the US. “I was exposed to those things growing up,” she said. “I went to conventions with her and wanted to make sure, in opening my school, that I exposed students to overseas trips as well.” Ms Manders got her grounding in dance at Jackson’s School of Performing Arts. At State University New York, at Buffalo, she received a fine arts degree; soon after graduating, she spent six months performing with Celebrity Cruise Lines. “It was a great experience and I enjoyed that,” said the dancer, who in 2008 earned a master’s degree in dance education at New York University. Five years ago, she opened Bermuda Dance Academy, well aware of the number of schools already in existence. “I wanted to impact the community,” she said. “I wanted to share my vision and passion with the larger community so that, hopefully, by the time [my dancers] get in high school, they’ll have a different perspective and understanding of dance. I just wanted to do more, I wanted to raise the level of dance. There’s a lot of competition in terms of dance, a lot of schools out there, but I feel we are doing well in giving another option for good quality dance training.” As such, Ms Manders was pleased to see how well Savannah Denkins, Da’Kota Gibbons, Amaiah Jimenez, Sanziniah Raynor, Tjaia Walker, Karis Masters, Kari Scott, Zakhya Scott, Ni’Ajah Edwards, Ilyana Smith, Kennedy Steeves and O’Neshe Morrision compared with more experienced dancers last month. The two scholarship recipients, Sanziniah and Zakhya, were selected to participate in City Crew, the convention finale. The group’s hip-hop performance, Fresh Kidzz, was awarded “Best of Show” and also selected to perform at the end. “We did as much as we could to prepare them for competition and convention,” Ms Manders said. “The dancers had been training since October. In order to participate, they had to attend additional classes, learn new choreography and perform during the Christmas Parade and [other holidays such as Bermuda Day]. We were travelling far away. It was not just about going to a convention, we had to be prepared for the convention. I think they were nervous and their parents too. They didn’t know what to expect. It was dance on a larger scale than what we do in Bermuda. Several [of the US schools] compete every month, at the weekend they take workshops regularly; they will be exposed to much more.” She kept that in mind as she searched for a convention. Part of Adrenaline Dance’s appeal was that it wasn’t “too large. The [students and parents] had a very positive outlook and experience. It was good for us. Each child competed in two dances. I’m so thankful for my teachers. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them working around the clock.” Although eager to return, cost is an issue. A lot of work went into making last month’s convention a reality. “I would definitely like to go to Adrenaline again,” Ms Manders said. “We went to the regionals, but they also have nationals and summer programmes. For us it’s about financial means. We are thankful for their supportive parents who have worked diligently to encourage their child to reach their goals and who have participated in numerous bake sales and community events to raise funds to support their dancers travel expenses. We would like to thank The Bermuda Arts Council and the National Dance Foundation of Bermuda for their generous donations to the school and our travel expenses.”

For more on Bermuda Dance Academy visit bermudadanceacademy.com.

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paragraphA focus on entertainment and short-term events could help to boost the island’s economy, MPs heard on Friday. Zane DeSilva, the tourism and transport minister, said Bermuda’s musicians would soon be “put back to work”. During an economic debate in the House of Assembly on Friday, he challenged the notion that there was a lack of confidence in the island. He said: “Rosewood Tucker’s Point put $25 million into revamping their hotel, they currently have six houses being built and, might I say, by wealthy businessmen. Wealthy businessmen do not invest in places where there’s a lack of confidence.” MPs heard that developers involved in the St Regis resort “loved Bermuda so much they purchased St George’s Club” and that the buyers of the Fairmont Southampton — Miami-based Gencom — planned renovations valued at between $150 million and $200 million. Mr DeSilva added that the Azura resort had “so much confidence they’re looking at buying the adjacent property”. The tourism minister said: “We have to look at entertainment in this country and we have to look at putting our musicians back to work and you can look forward to that in the future.” He added that more would be revealed on Monday. Susan Jackson, the One Bermuda Alliance whip, said earlier that the country benefited from events like the America’s Cup. She told the House: “In my observation, Bermuda does very well with these short bursts of economic stimulation where people come to this island, they bring all of their wealth to the island, they have fun on our shores. They absolutely love our environment, they enjoy being with the people and then they go, so there’s not this huge desire to have to deal with the immigration issues, there isn’t a huge strain on the infrastructure and Bermuda seems to fare well.” Ms Jackson added that other events including the PGA Tour Bermuda Championship and the MS Amlin World Triathlon had similar potential to “provide some sort of economic pulse into the community without creating any long-term after effects”. Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, explained that it was important to look at different templates for the economy. He said: “The orthodox model that Bermuda has run under, which is still a very crucial engine and structure that we have, has not served everyone fairly.” Mr Roban, who is also the Minister of Home Affairs, said that co-operative ventures were under consideration by the Government. The Budget Statement for 2020-21 included a $1.5 million pledge over two years towards the establishment of a co-operative fishery with a base at Southside, St David’s. Mr Roban added that further diversification of the economy was expected to include greater moves in the commercial space industry. Scott Pearman, the Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, said that there was “much to commend” about the Budget Statement. But he added: “One of the things that is regrettable, is that there is not a great deal of economic stimulus, and there is not much in the Budget about job creation.” Wayne Caines, the national security minister, highlighted the recently passed Subsea Communications Act 2020, which helped Bermuda’s chances of becoming the first landing hub for submarine communication cables in the Atlantic. He said the legislation would “see us doing something that is revolutionary in this part of the world, bringing jobs, bringing people to this part of the world”. Lawrence Scott, the Progressive Labour Party whip, said that it was important to look at “fact not fiction or rhetoric”. He added: “The fact is that this economy is growing, this economy is stronger than it was last year. “The fact is Standard & Poor’s is showing confidence in us. The fact is under the PLP this has become a better place, a more attractive place, to do business for international businesses.” Mr Scott said: “Under the PLP administration, this will be a place that Bermudians will be looking forward to coming back to.”

paragraphA calculated plan of action for immigration system reform is under way, Premier David Burt said on Friday. He told MPs that a “strategic approach ... is in train”. He added: “Its careful execution is critical to the success of Bermuda. A work permit scheme has already been put in place and the overall administrative processes are being streamlined and automated.” The comments came in a ministerial statement in the House of Assembly to provide a progress update on recommendations from the BermudaFirst think tank. The group involving about 90 Bermudians submitted a socio-economic plan for Bermuda last summer. Politicians and civil servants were deliberately excluded from the work of the group at the request of Mr Burt, who commissioned the report, with the aim to provide an “external view”. The report identified three critical areas for reform: education, healthcare and immigration. The group’s recommendations included formation of an independent education authority, immigration reform aimed at promoting economic growth by providing the skills the island lacks and holistic, outcome-based healthcare reform. Mr Burt said that the group made 35 recommendations that fell under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health. He added that 23 — or 66 per cent — of the recommendations made by the group “were either in progress by the Ministry of Health or are fully supported and will be actioned in the near future”. Mr Burt said that healthcare reform was “actively under way and forms a significant portion of the work of [the] Ministry of Health. In line with the recommendations, the Standard Health Benefit is currently being redesigned to modernise the current reimbursement scheme. Also as part of the health financing reform Government is in the process of regulating fees to healthcare providers as recommended by BermudaFirst.” The Premier said that the modernisation of public schools was included in plans for school redesign and restructure. He added: “Hospitality education, industry training and community engagement is progress, students are being introduced to more technical/vocational programme options, and students are being linked with approved industry partners for mentoring, internships and real career expertise.” Mr Burt said that all teachers would be required to be “appropriately trained in the use of technology”. He added that information technology literacy was being added into the public school system, and that robotics and coding classes were now offered to Primary 5 and Primary 6 pupils. Mr Burt said that the amendment of the 60:40 rule to encourage more foreign investment and the passing of legislation to “encourage development of approved residential schemes with the Economic Empowerment Zones” were both in line with recommendations of BermudaFirst. He added: “This Government is also working with the Salvation Army to upgrade the existing housing shelter on North Street, what will provide long overdue upgrades to the buildings at this site with the $1 million in funding allocated in the 2020-21 Budget.”

paragraphWork is ongoing to reduce the risk of online attacks, the Minister of National Security told MPs on Friday. Wayne Caines delivered a ministerial statement in the House of Assembly, when he said that the island needed to develop its protection against cyber threats. He said: “Cybercrime and cybersecurity issues continue to threaten individuals, the Government and Bermuda. They threaten our privacy, our financial success and our reputation. We must continue to drive the implementation of the Bermuda National Cyber Security Strategy and the internal Government security programme. We must also continue to promote awareness and build our capacity to protect our jurisdiction against cyber threats.”

paragraphPeople who have lost loved ones to gun violence vowed to unite the community to restore peace. Dozens of people took part in a peace walk through neighborhoods hurt by gun troubles on Saturday — and announced this was just the start of their efforts to heal Bermuda. They carried placards with messages such as “Tired”, “Hurt” and “You took my son — why?” as they marched in silence along Parsons Road, through Deepdale, Happy Valley, Court Street, Middle Town and Friswells Hill. Ceble Crockwell, whose brother, 30-year-old cricketer Fiqre Crockwell, was shot and killed in 2016, described the turnout as “overwhelming”. Ms Crockwell said: “The community gets it. We need to come together as the community, and just support each other. Ethnicity, age, gender — none of that matters. This could effect anyone’s family.” She said while tragedy had brought herself, Nicole Fox and Ebonie Cox together in Mom Bermuda, they were focused on trying to create positives in the community. Ms Crockwell said the event was also to show others impacted by violence in the community that support was available. She added that a lot of other families were “suffering in silence”. Ms Crockwell said: “This is just something to remind them that they are definitely not alone. “They need to know that we are here.” Ms Cox, whose brother Stefan Burgess, 24, was murdered in a shooting on Glebe Road, Pembroke, said that the walk was an outlet to express frustration. She explained: “We’re done talking. Enough is enough. We’re coming out just to make an example. We’re doing something and this is just the start. My niece is watching — I just feel like I have to do my part, so she knows that she’s not alone.” Ms Fox said the march was motivated by feelings of pain, fatigue and brokenness. She added: “They come in all different forms. Everyone feels it differently. We just want to heal, and each time someone else is shot, our wounds are opened back up again. If we can’t heal, how can we expect our boys to?” Her 22-year-old son was wounded in one of the gun attacks last month. Another son, 25-year-old Ricco Furbert, was killed in a double murder in Belvin’s Variety store on Happy Valley Road, Pembroke, in 2013. Ms Cox said the turnout for the march showed that gun violence impacted the entire community. She explained: “It’s a we problem, not an us problem. It’s not just us — it’s not people of colour, it’s not poor people. It’s a Bermuda problem. It’s a community issue.” Grae Minors took part to support Ms Cox, his cousin. The 28-year-old added: “We lost a family member, her brother, to gun violence a few years back. The cause really hits home.” The Warwick resident said the event showed that community members cared and that grassroots initiatives had the power to “spark larger change”. Mr Minors encourage people interested in being part of change to get involved. He said: “Do anything you can to help.” Nadia Khan said that she had also felt first hand the impact of gun violence. The 36-year-old explained: “I lost a cousin and a close friend. It’s not something that you forget or you get over, no matter how long it’s been. These are people that were a big part of my life, and they’re not here.” The Smith’s resident added that each new incident of gun violence opened old wounds. She said that the community had to find a way to reach its younger members. Ms Khan added: “It’s a problem that definitely needs to be solved. I’m not sure what the answer is, but it’s not something that’s going to be solved by just one person, or one group, or one political party. It’s going to take the community to work together.” Another march participant said that he was out to support organiser Ms Cox. The 37-year-old Devonshire resident, who asked not to be named, added that the event had served as a reminder about how many community members had been impacted by violence. He said the “diverse” turnout for the event was a “good start”. The man added: “You’re not going to get the whole community out the first time, but it’s a step in the right direction. You have to make a dent before you make a hole.” Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, said that walk was an “essential event”. He explained; “The real solution around gang violence is so complex — but the biggest single opportunity is about communities working together. It’s an issue if we work hard I think we can really achieve things.” Referencing that there had been zero gun deaths last year, Mr Corbishley added: “Last year, we didn’t lose anybody, and I’d like 2020 to be exactly the same.”

paragraphThe public will recall that in November 2019 a section of Railway Trail located in the Bailey’s Bay, Hamilton Parish area was closed to the public to effect repairs. The Ministry of Public Works can report that the stabilization specialists have completed their structural assessment of the area and plans to reinforce the area will commence on Monday, March 2. In order to accommodate completing the works as soon as possible, as of Monday March 2, a section of railway trail between the two footbridges will be closed to the public. In addition to directly reinforcing and stabilizing the rock face, the Ministry will construct two retaining walls that will further strengthen the area. It is anticipated the work will be completed by the end of May 2020, however, due to the unpredictable nature of ground and rock formations, unexpected delays may occur. Barriers and signs will continue to mark and inform the public of the closed section of Railway Trail. The Ministry apologizes for any inconvenience and urges the public to adhere to the posted signs.

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Last Updated: April 2, 2020
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