Tougher curfew and on-the-spot fines announced

Police have been checking to ensure that only essential workers or people on their way to supermarkets or banks are on the local roads. This Sunday and next Sunday have been designated as hard curfew days. - Photo: Alvaro Serey

Government is imposing a new alphabet-based curfew system, which will put tougher restrictions on movement for Cayman Islands residents.

The new ‘shelter in place’ regulations, which will run in tandem with a renewed ‘hard curfew’, will mean half the country is essentially on lockdown each day.

The hard curfew, which restricts movement to essential workers only, will be in place overnight from 7pm to 5am for the next 14 days. It will also be in place all-day Sunday, starting this weekend.

The shelter-in-place regulations, known as the soft curfew, which will come into effect Monday, split the country in half alphabetically to further limit movement.

Anyone with the surname beginning A-K will be allowed to go to the supermarket,  bank or gas station on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The L-Z group will be able to do the same on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Exceptions are made for 90 minutes of exercise, which is still allowed every day except Sunday, as well as for trips to the pharmacy or medical facility.

A new ticketing system will come into effect Monday alongside the new regulations, allowing police officers to issue on-the-spot fines to curfew breakers.

Premier Alden McLaughlin said of the changes: “Essentially the provisions we put in place with respect to attendance at supermarkets and banks by using the surname to divide the population will apply generally across the board to the permitted activity.

“The only exceptions for this will be if you need to go to the doctors or any healthcare facility, or the pharmacy. Those activities are allowed all week long for everybody.”

He said there were also exceptions to collect food from a restaurant and to exercise.

“All other activities which are not exempted are required to be done on your assigned day based on your surname,” McLaughlin added.

The changes don’t affect essential workers, whose exemptions still apply.

“The activity we are seeking to restrict further is non-work-related activity,” the premier said.

He also announced a new system so the police could issue tickets for on-the-spot fines for people who breach curfew. He said this would negate the need to take people to court in most cases, unless they chose to dispute the ticket.

Attorney General Sam Bulgin outlined the details of the new ticketing system, saying it was similar to that which is currently used for traffic fines.

On-the-spot fines, ranging from $250 for failing to maintain six-feet social distance in a public space to $500 for supermarket shopping outside of people’s allotted day and up to $750 for opening a business without exemption, are all included in the law.

He said offenders could still face jail time if they chose to dispute the ticket and go to court, depending on their “attitude” and the “gravity” of the breach.

Governor Martyn Roper outlined details of the British Airways flight due to arrive Tuesday and said a navy ship with an onboard hospital was also en route to the region to provide emergency support.

Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said changes to health regulations could be made to allow the government to recruit additional medical staff from Cuba and other areas.

Meanwhile the Cayman Islands recorded one additional positive case of coronavirus, taking the total number of positives to 29 out of 273 people tested.

The latest case was community-acquired with the patient contracting COVID-19 from a member of their own household, Dr. John Lee, Cayman’s chief medical officer, said.

He said one person had fully recovered, meaning they were showing no symptoms and had two negative tests. He said 13 others were ‘clinically recovered’ which means they are no longer displaying symptoms, such as cough or fever, but had not yet had two negative tests for COVID-19, the threshold for being declared ‘recovered’.

Lee said testing was now beginning on students being kept in isolation at Cayman’s hotels. He said having gone to such lengths to keep them sequestered from the community, health officials now wanted to take the extra step of ensuring they were free of the virus before allowing them to go home to their families.

The Cayman Islands is operating under a fluctuating soft and hard curfew to control the spread of the virus.

The islands’ borders have been closed since 22 March and are likely to remain shut for the foreseeable future. With the COVID-19 crisis escalating in the US, any easing of flight restrictions could risk the reintroduction of the virus to the Cayman Islands.

Amendments to the Public Health (Prevention, Control and Suppression of COVID-19) Regulations, and new regulations to ensure compliance with the Shelter in Place requirements

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