Premer Alden McLaughlin

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Premier Alden McLaughlin has warned that anyone who breaches the 50 people in public spaces ban will face penalties for their actions.

“Pleading ignorance of the law is no excuse,” he told the Cayman Compass Friday night.

Anyone found breaking the rule will be guilty of a criminal offence and faces a fine of $1,000 and six-months imprisonment, according to new regulations gazetted Friday night.

The penalty for the breach was among key measures outlined in the new Public Health Control and Suppression of COVID-19 regulations.

Government clarified Saturday that for bars, restaurants and hotels, the 50-person limit does not include staff members. The Ministry of Commerce also issued a statement that the limit includes both outside and inside spaces on a premises.

Minister Joey Hew is urging the industry to act responsibly and help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“We all have to use an elevated sense of caution as we respond to this situation so as to protect ourselves and the people of the Cayman Islands,” he said.

Government’s action comes on the heels of Cayman’s first confirmed case of coronavirus or COVID-19, a 68-year-old Italian man who died Saturday morning.

He was initially transported to Health City from the Costa Luminosa cruise ship on 29 Feb. after suffering a heart attack.

He later showed signs of respiratory problems and was put in an isolation ward at the East End hospital.

He was tested and confirmed to have the coronavirus.

His wife remains in isolation.

Following the confirmation of the virus, Health City on Friday temporarily closed the hospital saying it will not be accepting new patients for two weeks.

Premier McLaughlin also announced further travel restrictions on Friday including a ban on all cruises coming to local shores, an expanded list of travel restrictions and the closure of local educational institutions.

The regulations will remain in effect until further notice

McLaughlin said more “radical and drastic” decisions will have to be made in the coming days in order to safeguard the Cayman community and prevent the spread of the virus.

He said police will be patrolling to ensure the regulations, specifically the ban on public places, is being adhered to.

The government also issued the Control of COVID-19 regulations, which empowers the Medical Officer of Health to institute mandatory quarantines for 14 days.

It also bans entry of visitors “whether by ship or aircraft, where that person has travelled to, from or through an infected country within a period of fourteen days or less immediately preceding the tourist visitor’s arrival in the Islands.”

Caymanians and residents who have travelled to the restricted countries and are returning home will be allowed entry, McLaughlin said, but “they will be isolated.”

What the regulations say

Under the suppression regulations, which were authorized in a special cabinet meeting Friday, only health care facilities, supermarkets and pharmacies will be exempt from the 50 people maximum rule.

All activities leisure, recreational or spiritual activities including those organised by service clubs, faith-based organisations, community organisations, civic organisations and business organisations will be subject to the regulations.

The new regulations strictly prohibit the holding of “public meeting, procession or festive ceremony”.

Over the last two days many public events have been postponed and continue to be postponed including Taste of Cayman, various charity walks and fundraising events. Popular beach-side bar and restaurant Royal Palms Beach Club on Saturday announced it will be closing down indefinitely.

The regulations outlined that the prohibition is “for the purposes of preventing, controlling and suppressing the spread of the virus”.

Already churches are taking steps to limit the numbers in its congregation. On Saturday the William Pouchie Memorial United Church advised that it will be closed on Sunday because of COVID-19 Coronavirus concerns.

“Let us commit to being in prayer for those impacted by the COVID-19 Coronavirus, those grieving the loss of loved ones as a result; and against the further spread of the virus,” the church wrote in a Facebook post.

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