BERMUDA-HEALTH-Mask mandate to be discontinued at the end of November

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Health Minister Kim Wilson.

HAMILTON, Bermuda– There will be no more COVID-19 mask mandates or border controls after November 30, Health Minister Kim Wilson announced Thursday.

“As of November 30, 2022, all mask mandates and border controls related to COVID-19 will end,” Wilson announced at a press conference where she detailed a “roadmap out of the public health emergency” to see restrictions eased over the coming weeks to get to that point.

Earlier this week, she announced that the Government would not seek to extend the Public Health [COVID-19] Emergency Orders – which have been in place since June 30, 2020 – past the end of November.

She said at Thursday’s press conference that the Government intends to end the public health emergency in Bermuda. On Friday in the House of Assembly, she will seek a final extension of the current order for 37 days, from October 25 to November 30.

“The Government has determined an in the coming weeks. This enables a continued assessment of the prevalence of infection and its impact on our health system as the other public health and safety measures are amended or ceased,” Minister Wilson explained.

“As of October 3, 2022, the mask mandate will be amended to apply only to health service facilities, rest homes, and corrections facilities. For those using public transportation, taxis, minibusses, and limousines, as well as those working at or passing through the airport, mask-wearing will be optional.

“As of October 25, 2022, the requirement for pre-arrival or pre-departure testing, arrival testing, and day four testing for travelers will end. The requirement for unvaccinated visitors to provide proof of health insurance which covers COVID medical expenses will remain.”

As for the future of the Travel Authorisation (TA) form, which the opposition One Bermuda Alliance wants to be discontinued, the Health Minister said Government would be having further discussions regarding the island’s travel entry requirements, “taking into consideration what is appropriate and necessary in light of the ongoing pandemic.”

“We will announce those decisions before November 30,” she said.

The TA was introduced in June 2020 to monitor the COVID-19 status of arrivals, who had to pay a $40 fee to complete the paperwork.

“I appreciate there will be many questions regarding the future of the travel authorization. It is important to recognize that health travel documents are not new to international travel. Certain countries have had entry requirements, such as proof of yellow fever vaccination, for a long time. The difference is that those entry requirements were limited to specific countries,” Minister Wilson said Thursday.

“However, the global pandemic caused the majority of countries around the world to implement and enforce COVID-19 travel document entry requirements. In Bermuda, the Travel Authorization is an effective part of our COVID border controls. It has provided key information to the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Department of Immigration and HM Customs.”

Despite the removal of the COVID-19 regulations, Wilson reminded residents that they still had to take responsibility for their health as well as the health of others.

She said COVID-19 continues to be a threat to their health and well-being, although not as substantial as it was this time last year.

“While the public health emergency may end in Bermuda, the global pandemic continues. Although our number of positive coronavirus cases has declined significantly, we must not become complacent. She said that we must be careful and safe for ourselves and our community,” she said.

Bermuda’s active COVID-19 cases fell to a new low of 37 on Wednesday. No one was hospitalized with the virus.

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