Bermuda, which currently has only five active cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) after peaking at 904 in April, is to lift all social distancing restrictions apart from mask-wearing in indoor public places and large groups.
Premier David Burt told a media briefing on Tuesday night that while patience was growing thin with restrictions and lockdowns, many countries still had restrictions because of highly transmissible variants.
Burt said more than 10 people could sit at a table at restaurants, land and sea restrictions would cease and the overnight curfew would end as of Sunday morning.
Outdoor mask-wearing will also be unnecessary, but masks will still be required inside buildings.
Fifty-five percent of the population have now been fully vaccinated, Health Minister Kim Wilson said, adding that 2,000 children aged between 12 and 15 had received their first jab after recently getting the green light to be immunized.
Meanwhile, the Bermuda Hotel Association (BHA) announced that hotel staff not vaccinated against COVID-19 will have to get tested for the coronavirus every seven days from next Tuesday.
The BHA said the policy would apply in all its member hotels.
“The purpose of the policy is to ensure that all non-immunized hotel employees are aware of their health status as a means of protecting themselves, their co-workers, family members, visitors and guests, as well as all members of the wider community,” a BHA spokesperson said.
“The hotel industry as a key employer wishes to ensure that we exercise a heightened level of care for the safety of everyone as we seek to successfully achieve the reopening of our tourism economy.”
The policy is in line with the government’s controversial mandatory quarantine restrictions for non-immunized travelers, which is expected to come into force on June 24, the measure having originally been due to come into place on June 6 but twice put back.
Seven hotel properties — including the Fairmont Southampton which is undergoing renovations and is not open to the public — will be used as quarantine centers.
Travelers must pick one of the locations, cover the cost of the stay themselves and book before arrival in Bermuda.
A fresh batch of 4,680 doses of the Pfizer vaccine sent by the British government is due to arrive on June 24 from London, Government House has announced.
Britain has already sent around 80,000 doses of the vaccine to the island, a British Overseas Territory. In all, Bermuda has carried out almost 300,000 COVID-19 tests, resulting in 2,499 positive cases.
Dr Carika Weldon, head of the diagnostic laboratory, confirmed that there had been no cases of the virulent Indian – or Delta – variant in Bermuda, where 33 people have died, including five in May.