The Cayman Islands government has agreed to delay any enforcement action against Seven Mile Public Beach and West Bay Public Beach vendors for at least a month while officials attempt to work out a compromise with the sellers.
Fines were due to be issued to the unlicensed vendors, some of who have been operating in the Public Beach area off West Bay Road for more than five years, in early July.
However, Department of Commerce and Investment Director Ryan Rajkumarsingh confirmed Thursday that a brief delay of the enforcement action, which could lead to the vendors being taken to court, had been agreed.
“The Ministry of Tourism is currently implementing a plan to have vendors regularised and has requested an extension to the time allocated for the issuance of fines – with the Trade and Business Licensing Board agreeing to a one-month extension,” a department statement indicated. “While the enforcement process has been delayed, [the department] welcomes collaboration with other government entities and accepts the board’s ruling on this matter.”
Officials warned vendors that the decision was not a “reprieve” but rather a chance to obtain valid business licenses.
The department warned that the vendors also needed to “gain permission to operate on Crown land, such as the Public Beach and West Bay docks – to avoid further enforcement action.”
Trade and business licenses cannot be granted to Grand Cayman’s Public Beach vendors, or anyone else operating on Crown land, without prior approval by Cabinet, Mr. Rajkumarsingh has confirmed.
Responding to a burgeoning controversy this spring over enforcement notices recently issued to more than a dozen sellers on Seven Mile and West Bay Public Beaches, most of whom have been operating without legal licenses for years, Mr. Rajkumarsingh told the Cayman Compass there is no way for those small businesses to obtain a license simply via application if they wish to sell their wares on public property.
According to section 18 of the Trade and Business Licensing Law: “Where the applicant will be carrying on business in a public place, [he or she must have] evidence of approval of the relevant authority to carry on business in such a place.”
“You can’t just pull up in front of the Glass House [former government administration building] and try to sell snacks,” Mr. Rajkumarsingh said. “There’s no difference between that and selling chairs on the beach.”
Within the past decade, vendors selling everything from beach chairs, to sodas, to Jet Skis have appeared on Public Beach. As the number of unlicensed operators has grown, complaints from surrounding property owners grew louder. Most of the vendors told the Compass in recent interviews that they are aware of their unlicensed status, but said attempts to apply for a license were either rejected or never answered.