EDITORIAL: We are in this together

Cayman's borders closed on Sunday.
Cayman's borders closed on Sunday.

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As of midnight Sunday, Cayman, has closed its doors to the outside world. From here on in, we are all in this together.

With the exception of freight and emergency evacuations, no flights will be coming in or out of the island for at least the next three weeks. 

In reality, it is likely to be much longer.

The coronavirus is raging through Europe and America and, as Premier Alden McLaughlin acknowledged last week, it would be irresponsible to reopen our borders until that threat has passed.

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Those of us who remain in Cayman today are locked down together on these three small rocks in the Caribbean Sea. Dare we say, there is no place we would rather be?

In the last few weeks, the world has become a dangerous and uncertain place. 

It seems no corner of the globe is immune to the coronavirus pandemic or its considerable side effects of personal anxiety and economic gloom.

But the Cayman Islands is better placed than most to weather this storm.

While we may be following the public health guidelines on social distancing, we are already seeing a display of social unity from most sections of the community.

Perhaps it is due to years of training from facing the perils of hurricane season every summer, but Cayman is at its best in a crisis.

We can be thankful for the pragmatic, decisive leadership of Premier McLaughlin who, along with his Cabinet colleagues and senior government officials, has made a string of tough calls over the past 10 days, including implementing a night-time curfew, with the welfare of the people first and foremost in his thinking. 

We can be thankful for our healthcare workers, police officers and other essential staff who are working round the clock to keep the island safe.

We must also be grateful for the strong statement of solidarity from the private sector. The decision of Cayman’s biggest private sector employer, Dart Enterprises, to guarantee salaries for staff at its shuttered hotels through the likely duration of the crisis, has set the tone for others to follow.

Not all employers will have the resources to be so generous. The sad reality is that some businesses may not survive. Some workers have already lost their jobs and there will inevitably be more casualties as the economic impact of this crisis escalates. 

That is true all over the world and our welfare systems and charities will need to mobilise to help those that are most impacted. Our business leaders must also innovate to find a way out of this and a route back to prosperity.

At least in Cayman, government has the resources to ensure everyone’s basic needs are met. Banks have offered mortgage relief to home owners and we urge landlords to pay it forward and cut rents for struggling tenants.

Our economy is hurting but the imperative right now is public health. Sacrifices must be made to ensure there is no unnecessary loss of life. 

The countries that have coped most effectively with this epidemic are the ones that have acted swiftly with drastic measures. Cayman is ahead of the curve compared to other nations and we hope and believe that we can contain the spread of the virus.

Success depends on all of us. 

We must follow the guidance on social distancing. We must self-isolate if we have travelled overseas or have symptoms. We must practise diligent personal hygiene. This is not just for our own safety. The majority of us would survive a bout of COVID-19 with only mild discomfort. But if we pass on this highly contagious virus to our elderly or otherwise at-risk neighbours or family members, it could be fatal.

The sacrifice we are being asked to make to keep them safe is not so great.

As Marc Langevin, the manager of the Ritz-Carlton hotel, put it, “stay home, watch Netflix, eat ice cream”. 

Sounds manageable to us.

Full coverage: Coronavirus

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