It is unlikely money transfer services will be authorised to resume operations in the immediate future, as government has rejected one of two proposals for those businesses to reopen during soft curfew hours.

Premier Alden McLaughlin said Ministry of International Trade Chief Officer Eric Bush, who is in charge of the curfew exemptions, had refused one of the proposals “as there was no system outlined as to how they were going to manage the numbers [of people using the service]”. The second proposal is still being considered, he said.

McLaughlin, who was speaking at Monday’s COVID-19 press briefing, did not specify the rejected proposal.

The premier, responding to queries from the media on the issue, said government is increasingly concerned by the crowding they have seen outside local banks, which are opening just one branch each at the moment, and did not want that to happen with money transfer services.

“We are now firmly into community spread of this virus, and I have to tell you, we are increasingly concerned about the numbers of people who are congregating in supermarkets, outside supermarkets, but not so much inside, but outside supermarkets and banks in particular,” he said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Cayman had 45 positive COVID-19 cases.

Six new cases were announced Tuesday, four of which were students who had been isolated at the government facility and two were from contact with previously identified positive cases.

Many within the local community have been clamouring for the reopening of the money transfer services to send funds to families in their home country, as well as receive money.

“I think unless we are satisfied that we are going to find a method to avoid this particular problem [crowding] occurring with respect to the money transfer businesses, we are going to be very unwilling to allow another situation like that to develop,” McLaughlin said.

The premier acknowledged the demand for the service; however, he stressed the importance of securing the public’s health.

“I’m not saying it’s impossible; I’m just saying we have to come up with a better plan than is currently the case,” he said.

Pension proposal submitted

Another thorny issue that many in the community are eagerly awaiting resolution on is opening access to pensions.

The premier said on Tuesday that he had received a proposal from local pension providers Monday.

He said he would have to study the document before arriving at a decision.

He said a Cabinet meeting will be held during the course of this week to make some decisions.

A pension holiday and/or the ability to access pension funds are the options being explored.

The premier said that whatever decision will be made with regard to pensions will require legislative change and cannot be done by Cabinet.

“I think the [attorney general] has made some very good progress on figuring out how we can hold a virtual meeting of the Legislative Assembly and as soon as we get those details worked out, we’ll move swiftly to have the necessary meeting so that we can make the legislative changes,” he added.

 

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