The Bermuda government has reintroduced a curfew after the island recorded 86 new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) during a six-day period.
Premier David Burt told the House of Assembly that the curfew would be from 11.00 pm to 5.00 am (local time) from Saturday until December 22 at least.
He told legislators on Friday that businesses must close at 10:00 pm and the maximum size of gatherings would be reduced to 10.
Gyms must operate at reduced capacity and personal services such as barbers and spas cannot provide any services that require a mask to be removed.
Burt said the new wave of infections was being driven by younger people, with more than half of the latest cases aged under 30.
“I don’t think that we want to get back to that place and I’m going to put it on the people of this country, who have been through a lot this year, for us not to get back to that place,” he added.
Bermuda has seven clusters of cases of the virus, up from two, but has not moved to community spread.
Health Minister Kim Wilson has also announced care home restrictions because of the spike in cases and that visitors would have to remain outside care homes “unless deemed essential”.
Visitors will have to talk to care home residents through a window or door.
The Health Minister appealed to the “worried well” not to take up coronavirus test spots needed for more urgent cases as the island recorded 113 new infections over the last seven days. She gave an example, a husband and wife having booked six tests each.
Burt told Parliament the restrictions were approved at a Cabinet meeting earlier this week and would be reviewed on December 22.
“The numbers will get worse before they get better. It is therefore essential that we implement further actions now to avoid possible harsher actions later.”
Residents who travel back to Bermuda without having a pre-test will now be charged US$300 instead of US$30 and Burt said that 1,800 tests had been administered on Thursday, “smashing any previous record”.
He added the “strong public health advice” was that people should work from home if possible.
The online benefits application form for people put out of work has become available and Burt said if eligible workers had their applications filed by 5.00 pm on Monday, they should receive their US$1,000 payment next Wednesday.
The aid will go to full-time employees of bars and nightclubs which have had to close because of restrictions. Businesses can also seek instructions on how to apply on behalf of their employees.
Other benefits were announced for workers put in mandatory quarantine by the Ministry of Health who are unable to earn their ordinary pay. They will qualify for biweekly aid from December 18.
The payout will be 60 percent of normal pay, to a maximum of US$500 per week.