Bermuda Post

Friday, Sep 25, 2020

COVID-19 PRESS BRIEFING - Minister of National Security, Renee Ming

COVID-19 PRESS BRIEFING - Minister of National Security, Renee Ming

The Minister of National Security, The Hon. Renee Ming, JP, MP, gave an update in the Government of Bermuda COVID-19 Press Conference.
Good evening Bermuda,

I wish to start by sharing a few points about the large group guidelines.

I would like to announce that The Cabinet gave consideration to increase the group assembly size from 50 to 75 persons. As such, in accordance with the Public Health Regulations Section 5.3 (A), group sizes will start at 75 persons. This will be effective as of Monday August 17th 2020.

Additionally as it relates to the cricket matches which have been held, I can advise that a decision has been made to increase attendance size at these matches from 250 – 325 attendees.

However there are conditions for such gatherings, and as a priority these conditions must be adhered to, to ensure the health and safety of our community.

Switching to Hurricane Season - you will have seen the local weather updates about the latest system circulating in the Atlantic – Tropical Storm Josephine.

Our midday update indicated that TS Josephine is around 700 miles east of the Caribbean Islands, approximately 1,600 miles from Bermuda. The Bermuda Weather Service and the National Hurricane Centre are monitoring the progress of this storm.

According to weather forecasts Tropical Storm Josephine isn’t currently expected to form into a hurricane within the next five days.

But, should this storm pose a threat to Bermuda, the Emergency Measures Organization will meet, and following that meeting we will provide a public update.

The community can follow the storm’s projected path by visiting www.weather.bm.

As reminder, we are in the middle of an active and potentially troublesome hurricane season.

The public can be assured that against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of National Security and the EMO have assessed Government’s contingency and emergency plans to ensure that Bermuda is properly prepared.

However we cannot become complacent, and residents need to do their part to make sure they’re adequately ready.

Now is the time to make sure your hurricane plan is complete.

A change to the usual hurricane kit should be the addition of personal protective equipment (PPE) for you and your family. This includes, face masks or face coverings and hand sanitizer.

There should be enough PPE to last for at least seven (7) days for each member of your household.

Some general reminders:

Make sure you have at least seven (7) days of food supply for your family and pets.

Make sure you have ample supplies of non-perishable goods, prescription medications, fully stocked first aid kits, fresh batteries and smartphone battery packs, flashlights and any other items to aid in an emergency.

Make sure you carry out routine activities like making the necessary repairs around your homes such as fixing shutters and blinds; trimming back over hanging trees or shrubs; and ensuring your home or marine vessel insurance is up to date.

These activities can assist greatly in ensuring minimum damage and financial costs in the event of a severe storm or hurricane.

Turning to the matter of COVID-19 guidelines for commercial or tour boats, I want to stress that while individuals are on the water they MUST adhere to the rules and guidelines in place.

Here are some key updates for commercial boating.

Commercial Tour Boats – Marine and Ports have adjusted their licensing capacity for carrying persons to ensure that they take into account physical distancing.

Liquor licensing – Commercial and/Tour vessels are governed by the rules that covers all liquor licensing establishments – meaning they can only serve alcohol between 8.00 am and 12 midnight.

For recreational vessels raft ups are allowed and so is staying out on a boat overnight. And of course physical distancing and mask guidance applies to all on land or sea.

I encourage anyone – if at any time you see any breaches of the COVID-19 guidelines on land or water to please call 2-11.

Finally as I end, I wish to extend my thanks and appreciation to the individuals who make up the Gang Violence Reduction Team, led by Pastor Leroy Bean.

This pandemic and its resulting social, health and economic challenges have meant that we’ve had to have the right support in place to assist our people.

In that regard, the Gang Violence Reduction Team has been hard at work over the past few months providing an invaluable service – and their contribution to keeping our communities and at risk young people safe and protected during this pandemic must be publicly acknowledged.

The GVRT has coordinated support for several families they work with who are in need by connecting them to weekly food support, court support, and social and unemployment assistance where required.

And throughout the Shelter in Place, curfew and other emergency measures, the GVRT continued to visit targeted neighborhoods, building upon the connections and relationships with our at risk young people.

More specifically, the Coordinated Crisis Response Unit (CCR) was activated to support the community through emotional hardship.

The public may recall that the Unit was set up to assist family members, relatives or witnesses of violent incidents through times of crisis.

The CCR Unit was deployed to the hospital and also made home visits to support the families affected by the violence several times during this pandemic period.

The CCR Unit has systems, structures and trained staff in place to provide immediate emotional support to the affected families in order to connect them with long-term support through counselling services and support groups.

In order to lower community tensions the GVRT further increased its focus on Street Level Outreach.

The Outreach Workers have been in our community directly mediating tensions and conflicts between individuals and groups.

This is high touch, highly confidential and very sensitive work.

It involves directly working with persons who are currently involved or have been directly impacted by gang violence.

The goal is to steer these young men towards pro-social activities by providing a range of opportunities for change.

Also during this pandemic, the GVRT has been conducting increased check-ins with high-school and primary school students who were previously in prevention programmes.

They have been coordinating with the schools’ management teams and connecting with youth and families through WhatsApp calls, Zoom calls, small group sessions and home visits where necessary.

They will continue to provide critical support as the school term resumes next month.

Quite simply, the work of the Gang Violence Reduction Team is immeasurable and necessary.

And as Essential Workers who have been working throughout this pandemic, our community owes the GVRT a debt of gratitude for persevering against the odds to ensure that we have safe and peaceful neighborhoods.

Thank you.
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