In response to ongoing calls for pool maintenance to be carried out during soft curfew hours, Premier Alden McLaughlin reiterated Thursday that pool work is not considered an essential service and will not be exempted from curfew restrictions.
McLaughlin, who said he has been “hammered” on the issue for more than two days, said at the daily community briefing that the complaints about the issue is another example of “the lack of cooperation and the seeming lack of understanding of the gravity of this current situation”.
While the premier said there is still no evidence or no significant evidence of widespread community transmission, Cayman cannot be complacent in its approach to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
To date, Cayman has 29 confirmed cases of the virus that has left a trail of death spanning the entire globe.
The premier said that it is still possible to contain the virus in Cayman and to avoid widespread transmission.
“That is what our efforts have been about from the very start, and we have done almost everything that we know to try to prevent this from becoming the epidemic that it is in so many other places in the world,” he said.
However, he lamented that there still is “unfortunately, a lack of sufficient cooperation in some quarters”.
The premier said while pools are nice things to have, and he has one at his own home, “it is not essential”.
Some pool owners argue that leaving the pools unattended could also pose a health risk, not only by the water becoming contaminated, but also the potential for the pools to become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, my pool and thousands of others on the island lay stagnant, foul smelling for months. No one died as a result. We are not trying to make people’s lives harder,” McLaughlin said.
“We are not trying deliberately to take away your creature comforts,” he added.
He defended the decision not to exempt pool-maintenance services, saying, “there are hundreds of people who are employed doing this work. We want them to stay at home.”
Government, he said, does not believe that the workers coming to residents’ houses and looking after the pools necessarily pose a great risk to homeowners if they stay inside.
However, he explained, “it’s the constant interaction of the workers with each other, with other people in the community. [The] stopping at the gas station, going to the supermarket, doing the things that all of us do on a regular basis. We are trying to reduce the incidents, the instances of that human interaction. That’s what all of this is aimed at.”
On Friday, Cabinet met to consider new regulations under the Public Health Regulations and amendments to shelter-in-place provisions.
The current provisions, which were to expire on Monday, have been extended to 17 April to coincide with the hard curfew.
Changes were announced at the daily COVID-19 press briefing in relation to the soft curfew provisions such as:
- New provisions will permit certain essential activity by persons based on their surname.
- Exception is collecting food from a restaurant, medicines from pharmacy or emergency medical care at healthcare facilities.
- These provisions exempt essential workers of these facilities and apply only to customers or patrons.
- Persons with surnames ending A-K are allowed to make essential trips to the supermarket, pharmacy, bank, gas stations etc. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; last names L-Z, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday only.
- Some banks will open on Saturday – by mutual agreement – 9am-1pm.
- Persons can still get 1½ hours of exercise every day except Sunday, which is now a hard curfew day.