The Government of Bermuda has introduced tougher restrictions after a surge of coronavirus cases saw 40 recorded in the past week.
As a result, the curfew period was lengthened and the number of people allowed at gatherings will be cut from 25 to 10.
In making the announcement late Saturday, Premier David Burt said that starting Sunday, that night-time lockdown will now begin at 11 p.m. (local time) instead of midnight, but it will still end at 5 a.m.
Burt who said “We must act now”, said clubs and bars will be banned from serving customers indoors and outdoor service will be at tables only — with the group size reduced to six.
According to Education Minister Diallo Rabain, Government schools may return to remote learning if cases continue to rise.
News of the increased restrictions, which will be in force for at least three weeks, came as 16 new COVID-19 infections were revealed by health officials. Six cases were reported on Friday following 18 on Thursday.
Bermuda has now had a total of 789 confirmed cases — 68 of them active.
The 16 new cases were among 1,137 test results that came back to health officials and total of eight cases were classified as on-island transmissions with a known contact.
Five cases infections are under investigation as the victims had no recent travel history or links to a known contact while three cases were returning residents who arrived on the American Airlines flight from Miami on March 8.
Police have broken up at least two parties attended by more than the permitted number — one had more than 100 people in attendance.
“As the number of active cases is increasing so significantly, these proactive measures are required from a public health perspective to prevent further cases. The epidemiological results of the most recent cases indicate that almost all of our cases are of the UK variant, which we know to be more contagious and more virulent. We cannot risk this current outbreak powered by the UK strain becoming the third wave of infections in Bermuda. The measures are serious, but this action will enable us to slow the transmission of the virus while we work to continue our vaccination programme, which is vital in defeating the virus,” said Health Minister Kim Wilson.
Meanwhile, the Premier expressed concern about the increase in the number of children who have tested positive – ”the swift action taken to test entire schools reflects our determination to do all we can to keep our young people safe. It is beyond frustrating to think that we are still dealing with the consequences of the reckless actions of a few in the community.”
Over the past 12 months, the death toll from COVID-19 now stands at 12.