Cabinet passed new amendments to the ‘shelter in place’ regulations, Monday, toughening some of the rules on if and how people can move around during the daylight hours. Over the past few days, Premier Alden McLaughlin and Commissioner of Police Derek Byrne have also sought to clarify some uncertainty around how the rules will be applied and enforced. Here, we try to answer some of the key questions around the new regulations and what they mean.
What are the ‘shelter in place’ regulations for?
The regulations basically mean you are required to stay home unless you are covered by any of the exemptions outlined in the law. The aim is to reduce human contact and cut down the opportunities for the coronavirus to spread.
When do they apply?
The ‘shelter in place’ rules, also known as the soft curfew, apply from 5am until 7pm, Monday to Saturday. Outside of those hours only emergency services and essential workers, with written exemption letters, are allowed to be on the road.
What happens on Sundays?
Sundays have been separately designated as a ‘hard curfew’ day. That means no exercise, no going to the drive-through, no trips out of the house or yard except in emergencies. The usual exemptions apply for emergency service workers and key personnel with official permission to be on the road.
Can I still go to the supermarket?
The regulations still allow exemptions to go to the supermarket, gas station, bank or mini-mart. However, residents are now restricted to three days a week when they can visit these places.
How is that going to work?
The island’s population has been divided alphabetically. Those with the surname starting with A-K can shop Monday, Wednesday or Friday. Those in the L-Z category can shop Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday.
What about going to the pharmacy or the doctor?
Healthcare facilities, including pharmacies, are exempt from the split-shift system. You can visit those places on any day that they are open.
What about restaurants?
All restaurants are still closed to sit-in diners. But they are still allowed to be open for take-out and delivery.
Are any other businesses allowed to open?
Exemptions are being reviewed by government on a case-by-case basis and businesses can apply for permission to [email protected]. One recent example – the premier announced permission for baby shops to open for expectant mothers from 9am until 1pm.
Are the old regulations still in place?
Yes. Public gatherings of more than two people are still banned. Churches and schools remain closed.
What about Easter services?
A traditional Easter as we know it is effectively cancelled. There will be no camping and no services, though most churches are endeavouring to provide virtual services.
What about weddings and funerals?
The original regulations do carve out an exemption for weddings and funerals with no more than 10 guests, though it is not clear if this is still being allowed.
Can I buy beer?
Liquor stores remain open, so you can buy alcohol on your allotted day. Some stores are running delivery services if it is not your day to shop.
Can I take a taxi?
The original regulations allow taxis to operate with up to two passengers and there has been no update to suggest that has changed.
Are people still allowed to exercise every day?
The exemption for 90 minutes of exercise a day remains in place, with the exception of Sundays which is a ‘hard curfew’ day. The police commissioner clarified, however, that the exercise is limited to the 12-hour period between 6am and 6pm.
What counts as exercise?
Byrne has stated that water sports are banned for the time being, to protect police resources. So that means no diving, kayaking, snorkelling, wakeboarding, waterskiing, parasailing or paddle boarding.
So, I can still go to the beach and swim in the ocean?
Access to public beaches across the Cayman Islands is now strictly curtailed for any activity including walking, exercising, swimming, snorkeling, or engaging in any type of marine activity. Public beach means the portion of the beach that ends at the high watermark, referred to as soft sand.
Can I go fishing?
Fishing of any kind is no longer permitted.
What about parents who are separated and need to transport their children between homes?
There is an exemption in the new regulations to allow parents to be on the road when they need to take their kids from one house to another to facilitate shared-custody arrangements.
What about emergencies?
There is a specific exemption allowing people to leave their homes if they are at risk of injury or death.
What are the penalties for breaking the regulations?
Breaking the regulations carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison or a $1,000 fine. A ticketing system was introduced Tuesday to allow police to issue on-the-spot fines – similar to speeding tickets for breaches of the soft curfew.
How will that work?
If an officer believes you have committed an offence under the regulations, he can serve you with a ticket requiring you to pay a fine within the next 28 days. If you fail to pay the fine you can be brought to court.
What if you want to contest the ticket?
You have the option to enter a not guilty plea and attend Summary Court to state your case on the date specified on the ticket. By doing so, however, you run the risk of a higher fine, or even a jail sentence.
What are the fines?
The schedule lists fines including $250 for failing to maintain six-feet social distance from another person, $750 for holding a public meeting, $500 for visiting the supermarket outside your allotted day and $500 for being outside of your house or yard without lawful authority.