Cayman Islands: Official COVID-19 Tourism Update
Easing of restrictions on Cayman Brac that include lifting of all hard curfews, allowing both fishing and boating from this evening, Thursday, 7 May 2020 were some of the highlights shared by Cayman Islands’ leaders at today’s press conference.
Also, Government is on track to take steps to remove Cayman from the EU’s black list of financial centers.
Furthermore, Cayman Islands’ airports and seaports for cruise ships will remain shut until 1 September 2020 for visitors and returning residents, according to decisions taken by Cabinet today. Exceptions will continue to be made for essential services, health emergencies and to accommodate emergency evacuations organised by the Governor’s Office.
Prayer was led by Bishop Dr. Desmond Whittaker.
Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee reported:
- 74 negative results were reported today; two positive, one of whom has travel history, and the other a contact of a previous case. Of the total of 80 positives, number of symptomatic persons is 9, asymptomatic persons is 33, and recovered 35. The number of hospitalised remains the same at 2.
- Testing of most frontline healthcare workers has been done in phase one and is continuing simultaneously with phase two which includes: supermarkets, RCIPS, Fire, people on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.
- At stage 3 of testing, repeat sampling of healthcare workers will continue at periodic intervals, as they are essential workers and have to remain free of COVID-19. Healthcare workers have currently to fill questionnaires daily as well whereby they get daily health screening.
He reminded all to follow social distancing and other COVID-19 prevention measures, such as handwashing, and use of face coverings. Some of these are recommendations from the CMO based on international best practice and some are law.
Commissioner of Police, Mr. Derek Byrne reported:
- Small number of crimes has occurred.
- Gang tensions in West Bay police district resulted in a reported shooting. No persons were injured. A serious assault this morning involving a machete resulted in a serious hand injury and the hospitalisation and detention of one person. Investigations are progressing well in both cases, with one detained and arrested to date.
- Hard curfew continues to operate well. Revoked in Little Cayman this week and hard curfew on Sunday’s lifted in Cayman Brac today.
- Concerned about operation of soft curfew generally, while essential services such as supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, money transfer are working well.
- There have been 481 individual warnings for prosecution up to 6 am this morning; of these, 298 were for hard curfew, 184 for soft curfew and an additional 110 tickets have been issued for soft curfew. For full statistics, see sidebar below.
- More stringent enforcement of regulations is coming on Grand Cayman this weekend. The number of vehicles on Grand Cayman’s roads is now a matter of concern, as well as speeding, which has no exemptions and police will be monitoring this stringently.
- Soft curfew for Cayman Brac is now changed from, 5am to 8pm, all week.
- Beach curfew on Grand Cayman remains strictly in effect.
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:
- It is worrying that we’ve put some 6,000 persons back in to the work force and it has resulted in a notable increase in traffic. Speeding is really a major problem. With significant numbers of people out exercising, he appealed to motorists to be extra careful not to cause them alarm or injury.
- He appealed to cyclists to drive on the left side of the road which means along the flow of traffic. Going against traffic on the right side of the road is a practice that endangers cyclists themselves from people coming out of their driveways into regular traffic.
- Cabinet has today passed updated regulations governing soft curfew on Cayman Brac.
- Cayman Brac is lowered to COVID-19 suppression level 3, Little Cayman close to level 2, while Grand Cayman remains on level 4.
- On Cayman Brac, as of this weekend, Sunday lockdown is lifted for Cayman Brac and hard curfew is modified there 8pm-5am, 7 days a week. Beach curfew is lifted this evening, enabling both fishing by boat and line fishing from the ironshore. Limit of two people per fishing vessel.
- However, people in public places are required to maintain social distancing protocols. Also restrictions to visits to residential care facilities remain in place.
- Dining in at restaurants is limited to outdoor areas only, meaning no indoor dining in allowed. At allowed social gatherings, 25 people may gather.
- Leisure, recreational, faith, service club, community and civic organisations may now hold meetings but must maintain social distancing measures.
- Masks are required indoors in public places and maintaining distancing of 6 feet is required.
- Inter-island travel continues to be controlled. Travel is only permitted after notification of Medical Officer of Health and Cayman Brac’s public health equivalent.
- Bars will remain closed until 50% of population test negative or expiry of new regulations, whichever is sooner. Testing will continue.
- Civil Service will continue to work remotely.
- Restrictions on visits to residential homecare facilities continue on Cayman Brac.
- Government continues to work even during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure that the Cayman Islands comes off the EU black list in October. The LA would have to meet later this month to pass a number of bills in this regard.
- The Finance Minister will attend a press conference to update on the financial situation in the Cayman Islands.
- Department of Vehicle and Drivers Licensing (DVDL) operations are continuing well; on average 275 vehicles are renewed a day. Also, National Roads Authority (NRA) staff are back on work on the roads.
- He clarified that tennis can be played by home owners on their private tennis courts with their own family members. Tennis on strata properties or public places is not allowed.
- Premier debunked as “completely false” a rumour that the Education Ministry is issuing free laptops to youth. He reiterated that trusted sources for information are the official CIGTV, Radio Cayman and government Facebook and Twitter posts.
- The next phase will likely allow car garages and part stores to reopen.
- For more announcements from the Premier, see sidebars below.
His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:
- Governor asked all to comply with curfew on behalf of all in the community.
- He welcomed the great news about Cayman Brac.
- He noted that however, the new normal requires social distancing and respiratory and basic hygiene.
- He was confident that the plan to ease restrictions on Grand Cayman remains on track.
- Until there is a vaccine or we are able to test people, international travel or arrivals are not possible. And vaccine remains a long way off – the world is being offered rapid tests but at the moment all unapproved and don’t offer a way forward. Knows that people are concerned with borders being closed for next three or four months.
- The Dominican Republic flight is confirmed for 17 May. There is no need to call as he will confirm booking details tomorrow.
- Another flight to Miami is confirmed but the flight date is to be confirmed.
- The flight to Canada is on 22 May and some seats are still available; details can be obtained on his social media sites. No further flight to Canada is envisaged currently.
- Governor commented that during air travel, social distancing would not be possible and the flights organised were emergency evacuations.
Health Minister Hon. Dwayne Seymour said:
- People feeling the need to cope could contact the mental health helpline at 1-800-534-MIND (6463).
- He said masks had been distributed to all MLAs for distribution in their respective districts and more were ordered. This was only one among several measures in the community for masks. There were also entities such as the Red Cross disseminating them.
- He thanked BritCay for donating $20,000 towards a vehicle for the HSA pharmacy to make home deliveries of medicines to the vulnerable and the elderly. For coordinating delivery, the numbers to call are 244-2715 or 244-2716.
- He also thanked BritCay for making golf cart available for use within the HSA by the disabled.
- He asked people to show solidarity with the protocols put in place for the Islands’ benefit by wearing a mask or if not available even a bandana.
Deputy Premier, Hon. Moses Kirkconnell said:
- Cruise port and airport currently set to reopen on 1 September based on recently passed Cabinet paper. There is no guarantee that the ports will open to cruise ships in the third or fourth quarter.
- Government is putting together a medium to long term plan for tourism. A COVID-19 spawned package of incentives will be put together as well as educational programme to improve skillsets to ensure Caymanians can take advantage of new opportunities when they become available.
- With 90% of tourism gone, a new way of doing business and not a quick fix was the way to go forward in relation to tourism. Striking the right balance is the key. “The industry is at the end of a free fall and we are starting to build it back.”
- Financial services and construction are vibrant and strong and that needs to continue. Tourism will have to recover in segments.
- Inter-island staycations and better business for local restaurants are one way to go. International arrivals cannot recover until the world around the Cayman Islands recovers. Government is brainstorming to decide when to open for inter-island tourism.
Education Minister Hon. Juliana,O’Connor-Connolly said:
- Minister emphasised people on Cayman Brac were happy at the opening of boat fishing and line fishing.
Sidebar 2: Premier Announces Frontline Fridays
“We are all aware of the tremendous efforts and hard work that has been ongoing for several weeks to contain the virus from spreading in our Islands.
I’m pleased to say that hard work is paying dividends.
Aside from the robust policies that have been put in place, a great deal of our success is due to the dedication, professionalism, and commitment of the many people who are working on our front lines.
These include our healthcare workers, first responders, uniformed services and public servants, as well as grocery store employees, essential businesses, and many others, who are providing essential services or information to help us stay safe and keep our Islands functioning during this global health crisis.
It is important that we take the time to recognise all of our frontline and essential workers and let them know that their hard work and sacrifices are certainly appreciated.
Starting tomorrow and every Friday, Radio Cayman is dedicating a portion of its Talk Today show to our front line workers.
I’d like to invite the public to call in to Radio Cayman between 1:30pm and 2pm tomorrow to say thank you to their family members and friends for the contribution they are making on the frontlines, or even to talk about the positive experiences and interactions they have had with frontline workers.
The number to call is 1 800 534 8255 or 949 8037.
I’m sure your calls will give everyone on the front lines a tremendous boost and will help to keep them motivated, so please do take advantage of this opportunity if you can.”
Sidebar 1: Premier Explains New Cayman Brac COVID-19 Regulations
I am pleased to announce that Cabinet has today passed the Prevention, Control and Suppression of Covid-19 (Cayman Brac) Regulations, 2020. These regulations will come into effect this evening 7th May once published and expire on 31st May 2020.
The Suppression level in Cayman Brac is now be lowered to Level 3. Little Cayman is quite close to Level 2 and Grand Cayman remains at Level 4.
This decision has been taken given that around 400 people or close to 32% of Cayman Brac have been tested. To date only one person has tested positive for COVID-19 in the Brac.
Changes will be made to the hard curfew. As of this weekend, Cayman Brac will no longer be under a 24 hard lockdown on Sundays. Instead there will be a curfew from 8pm-5am 7 days per week.
Public places will be required to maintain social distancing protocols of at least 6 feet and only provide services where such distancing can be maintained/achieved. Dining at the outdoor areas of restaurants is now possible again.
Public meetings will be increased to a maximum of 25 persons. Public meetings include leisure, recreational or spiritual activities including those organised by service clubs, faith-based organisations, community organisations, civic organisations and business organisations. This means churches, service clubs and community organizations can now hold meetings- but must maintain social distancing measures.
The wearing of masks or face coverings will be required for those who are indoors in a public place and unable to maintain a distance of 6 feet from others.
Just as with Little Cayman regulations, Inter-island travel to Cayman Brac will also be controlled and only permitted after notification of the Medical Officer of Health and the Director of the Sister Islands Health Services Authority.
So in practical terms you reside in Grand Cayman and wish to travel to Cayman Brac, you will be required to be isolated for a period of 2 weeks at a location specified by the Medical Officer of Health. You will then be tested for COVID-19 and must receive a negative test for the virus. Upon receiving the negative result, you must travel immediately and directly to the airport by a person assigned by the Medical Officer of Health. These measures are designed to limit the potential importation of new cases of COVID-19 to Cayman Brac.
We have decided that bars will remain closed until 50% of the population has tested negative for COVID-19 or the expiration of the new regulations. It is our desire to see the testing continue and we believe that at 50% of the population we will have a much clearer indication of the situation in Cayman Brac.
Civil Servants unless designated as essential workers will continue to work remotely from home.
We are maintaining restrictions on visitations to residential home care facilities.
And perhaps the most important news, fishing and boating is now allowed again, however for the time being there is a limit of 2 persons per boat.
Sidebar 3: Commissioner Cautions Against Speeding, Breaking Curfews
“I am pleased to report that the crime situation remains quite stable, a small number of crimes are occurring and there are some gang tensions emerging in the West Bay district which manifested in a reported shooting incident last night (no persons injured) and a serious assault involving the use of a machete this morning, resulting in a serious hand injury.
Investigations into both incidents are progressing well. One arrest has been made and it is expected that a second arrest will be made in the coming days. A small number of burglaries have been reported during the past week. This situation merely highlights that crime has not gone away, but has significantly reduced over the past 6 weeks. That said, crime will re-emerge as we move through the remainder of the year. I re-state that the crime situation is quite stable and in general terms everything is calm.
The hard curfew for the most part continues to operate well on Grand Cayman. You will be aware that the hard curfew on Little Cayman was revoked earlier this week and later the Premier will announce an easing of curfew restrictions on Cayman Brac commencing this evening. Separately, I have a lot of concern around the operations and the interpretation (by some persons) of the shelter in place regulations (soft curfew) in Grand Cayman.
Supermarkets, banks, gas stations, pharmacies and money transfer bureaus are all operating well. They are well controlled and well managed with social distancing protocols being observed.
If I could take a few moments to speak about mainly the soft curfew or shelter in place regulations particularly on Grand Cayman:
Up to 6 am this morning there have been 481 individual Warnings for Prosecutions issued. This is broken down to 298 breaches of the Hard Curfew and 184 breaches of the Soft Curfew.
Additionally, between 15 and 23 April, there were 110 Tickets issued. (592 breaches). There are additional tickets in the system not included in these figures.
In the last 7 days, there have been 31 incidents involving breach of curfew on Grand Cayman, resulting in warnings for prosecution being issued to 60 individuals. These were located on George Town (17), West Bay (8), Bodden Town (2), East End (3), North Side (1).This includes:
- 8 incidents where people have broken hard curfew by swimming, fishing or snorkeling. The most serious incident was on the 4th of May when a group of 6 individuals were caught snorkeling in the West Bay district.
- 2 incidents where persons broke curfew by operating a business without permit. There was an incident on the 5th of May on Shedden Road, George Town where officers found a man running a barbers shop with 3 customers sitting together inside.
- 2 incidents where larges groups (7+ persons) have ignored social distancing. This includes an incident yesterday where officers attended the location and observed 9 males playing Dominoes at the rear of a licensed premises in GT, all were warned for intended prosecution.
Our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Lee has repeatedly highlighted the risks of the COVID 19 virus. He has repeatedly set out the intent of the regulations which is to suppress the virus and protect the population of the Cayman Islands. Daily, global and national news reports set of out the risks associated with the virus and it is difficult to see how any person(s) could misinterpret the risks to the community here in the Cayman Islands.
With the incremental easing of restrictions earlier this week some persons are working hard to circumvent the intent of the regulations applying a very loose interpretation, moving around in breach of the regulations. This type of behaviour places the majority of the population at greater risk and undermines the purpose and intent of the regulations which is primarily to protect communities and save lives.
The challenge for community safety is best demonstrated in traffic volumes around Grand Cayman, which is clear to be seen. We are not far off pre-covid traffic volumes. Unfortunately, the easing of restrictions appears to have been a light bulb moment for some persons who have interpreted the easing as permission for them to resume almost full movement and full activities across Grand Cayman.
Our success to date in dealing with COVID 19 has largely been due to compromise and tolerance, which has taken us this far and delivered excellent results and all of us here in this room believe that the end line is in sight, if we can get it right.
But we are struggling to get a minority of persons to comply with the regulations and this requires me as Commissioner of Police to direct more stringent enforcement of the regulations to protect our communities and save lives. The persons who breach the regulations compromise the safety of persons who comply with the regulations and this matter needs to be re-balanced.
The Premier mentioned yesterday about groups of landscape workers travelling in the back of an open bodied truck, not social distancing and not carrying the required papers, he also mentioned that exemptions issued to employers breaching the regulations would be revoked. I have instructed my officers to ensure that all breaches detected are reported to the competent authority with a view to revoking exemptions for non-compliant employers and employees. In the case of any detected breaches I have directed that each person in the vehicle will be warned for prosecution and in the case of employees travelling without the required exemption papers we will also seek to prosecute to employer for failing to comply with the conditions of the exemption issued.
Speeding on our roads continues to be a problem, this includes speeding by drivers involved in food delivery, particularly at night time, there is no exemption for speeding. I would like to take a moment to read out an e-mail sent to me today by a member from the community concerned at what is going on, on our roads. The intention of the police in the enforcement of the regulations is to be fair and balanced in our approach, but this is becoming increasingly more difficult as persons seek to circumvent the regulations.
Soft curfew or Shelter in Place Regulations on Grand Cayman remain in operation between the hours of 5am and 8pm daily Monday to Saturday. New Shelter in Place Regulations for Cayman Brac will be gazetted later this evening or tomorrow and the Premier will speak to this in his address today.
Hard Curfew or full lockdown, save for exempted essential services personnel remains in operation on GC and CB between the hours of 8pm and 5am nightly Monday to Sunday inclusive.
Exercise periods not exceeding 90 minutes are permitted between the hours of 5.15am and 7pm daily Monday to Saturday. No exercise periods are permitted on Sunday during the period of curfew. This relates to Grand Cayman only as these restrictions have been removed in CB and LC.
This coming Sunday 10 May 2020 will operate as a 24 hour curfew period with full hard lock down. No persons other than exempted essential services personnel will be permitted to leave their homes on Sunday, for any reason. Exercise periods in public places are not permitted on Sunday. This relates to Grand Cayman Only. On Cayman Brac a nighttime curfew will be in place between the hours of 8pm and 5am this Sunday.
A full 24 hour hard curfew as it relates to beach access to public beaches on Grand Cayman remains in place through to Friday 15 May 2020 at 5am – this means no access to public beaches on GC at any time until Friday 15 May 2020 at 5am. This prohibits any person(s) from entering on, walking, swimming, snorkeling, fishing or engaging in any type of marine activity on any public beach on Grand Cayman. This restriction is removed from Cayman Brac effective this evening.”
I remind all persons that a breach of a hard curfew order is a criminal offence carrying a penalty of $3,000 KYD and imprisonment for one year, or both.
I have directed heightened enforcement over the coming week end and I ask for you for your continued co-operation as we work together to protect our communities and save lives.