Round-the-clock curfew to be eased Saturday

Premier Alden McLaughlin
Premier Alden McLaughlin. - Photo: Reshma Ragoonath

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Government has agreed ‘shelter in place’ regulations that will allow the round-the-clock curfew to be lifted on Saturday morning.

Premier Alden McLaughlin said all non-essential businesses would still be required to close their doors.

However, there will be dispensation to allow supermarkets and pharmacies to open, and for people to move around in small groups on a limited basis.

“If you are not going on a particular mission of great importance, to the supermarket, to the gas station or the pharmacy, to walk your dog, to exercise for a reasonable period of time in a public space, you are required to stay home,” he said.

The full details of the new rules and exemptions will be outlined by Attorney General Samuel Bulgin on Friday.

The 24-hour-a-day curfew will remain in place until 5am Saturday.

Even once it is lifted, the nightly curfew will be maintained.

“Come Saturday morning, the curfew will revert to the previous timing, from 7pm until 5am… then the shelter in place provisions will pick up at one minute past five and run through to next week Friday,” the premier said.

That means a total overnight lockdown for all but essential and emergency services, and a more relaxed approach during the day with some movement allowed and a select few essential businesses open.

The premier acknowledged that it would be difficult and economically taxing for the island, but said the strategy was aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.

“I appeal to everyone to please co-operate with what we are trying to do,” he said, noting that government was still getting far too many requests for exemptions from the curfew and shelter-in-place rules.

Premier McLaughlin also clarified that people living in condo complexes are free to move around their strata grounds during the curfew, so long as they maintain social distancing and don’t use strata pools.

Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said the curfew was going well so far from an enforcement perspective. People seemed to understand the requirement and be compliant with the lockdown, he said.

A total of 30 vehicles were stopped in Grand Cayman Wednesday night and six were found to be in breach of curfew. Two were arrested and four were warned for prosecution.

By 2pm Thursday afternoon, 55 people had been stopped and 10 were found to be in breach of curfew.

The police are being backed up by Customs and Border Control Officers, special constables and immigration enforcement officers who have been diverted from their regular duties to supplement the police response.

Meanwhile, the Cayman Islands had no new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours. A total of 48 tests came back negative.

That means there are still just eight confirmed cases of the virus on the island and one inconclusive case which is being reviewed.

The news means Health City could be cleared to open shortly.

For now, the full curfew remains in place.

All businesses, including supermarkets and pharmacies are closed, and people are not allowed to leave their homes or their yards. The aim is to prevent community spread of the coronavirus.

McLaughlin said Wednesday that if the island could put up with drastic limitations on movement for the next 10 days and avoid widespread transmission of the virus, it would be a huge victory.

At that point, he said, some normalcy could return, with businesses and schools potentially being able to reopen. He acknowledged, however, that the land and sea border would likely remain closed for some time, with the virus raging in the another areas, including the US.

  • With reporting by Reshma Ragoonath and Kevin Morales

Full coverage: Coronavirus

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