Cayman’s borders are likely to stay closed until the end of May, Premier Alden McLaughlin said Tuesday.
The premier, in response to a question at the daily COVID-19 briefing about the extension of the original three-week closure, said Cabinet was planning to meet this week to discuss the issue.
He said that while Cabinet had not taken an official decision yet, he had discussed it with Deputy Premier and Minister of Tourism Moses Kirkconnell, who suggested the airports should remain shut for at least another seven weeks.
“We will have a Cabinet meeting during the course of this week and this is the suggested date,” McLaughlin said.
Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman and the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport on Cayman Brac have been closed to all but domestic flights since 22 March. Cruise ship arrivals in Cayman have also been banned.
The government had announced that the airports initially would be closed for three weeks – until 12 April – in a bid to prevent visitors spreading the virus in Cayman. As cases in the US, from which most of Cayman’s tourists hail, continue to grow, it was always unlikely that Cayman would reopen its borders by the initial date.
British Airways flight
One plane that did touch down at Owen Roberts this week was an emergency British Airways flight, chartered by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The flight from London arrived at the Grand Cayman airport Monday afternoon, carrying 58 Caymanian students and other residents, all of whom are being quarantined for 14 days in a government-mandated facility.
The plane also brought in COVID-19 tests and medical equipment, which will allow the territory to improve its testing capabilities.
The BA flight left Cayman on its return leg to London, via Nassau, Bahamas, around 1:20pm today (Tuesday), carrying 131 people of varying nationalities. At its stopover in Nassau, it is expected to pick up 44 British nationals and other European passengers who wish to be repatriated to or via the UK.
Governor Martyn Roper said the flight was the first on the air bridge link now established between the UK and the Overseas Territories.
He praised all those involved in organising the flight, both in Cayman and in the UK, saying his office in Cayman had effectively been transformed into “a call centre and travel agency”.
In response to a question, the governor also assured that the flight crew that had brought the BA plane to Cayman had been quarantined when they stayed overnight on island.