The daily hard curfew and most of the shelter-in-place provisions on Little Cayman will be lifted as of this evening, Premier Alden McLaughlin announced Tuesday at the daily briefing.
The announcement came after Dr. John Lee stated that there were three new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Grand Cayman.
Lee said 94% of residents on Little Cayman had now been tested and all were negative. Results are still outstanding on the handful of remaining residents on the island, he added.
The premier said the decision to lift restrictions on Little Cayman followed a meeting of the National Hazard Management Executive, after which Cabinet, Commissioner of Police Derek Byrne and Governor Martyn Roper had agreed to revoke the hard and soft curfew regulations.
“So, with effect from this evening, there will be no curfew in Little Cayman either during the evening – which has been as of Monday from 8pm until 5am – that is gone, as will be the curfew on Sundays,” McLaughlin said.
He said the island was effectively moving from Level 4 – ‘high suppression – to Level 1 – ‘all clear’ overnight, in terms of the phases of virus-suppression provisions.
However, some provisions will remain in place in Little Cayman, including the requirement for people to stay at least six feet apart from each other in indoor public places, including bars and restaurants, which will be allowed to reopen.
Also, it will be mandatory to wear a face mask while in an indoor public area, the premier said.
Anyone from Grand Cayman or Cayman Brac, other than essential personnel, who wants to visit Little Cayman must be isolated for 14 days before travelling there and must be tested and shown to be COVID-19 negative, he said.
The premier said essential personnel, who are allowed to travel to Little Cayman without being quarantined beforehand, would be determined by the district commissioner and health officials.
“The borders of Little Cayman are otherwise closed,” he said, adding that the lifting of the regulations means the island’s residents can get back to “some degree of normalcy – that includes fishing”.
Widespread testing on Cayman Brac is also under way. Some 400 samples have been taken from residents of Cayman Brac, which has a population of about 2,000. Lee said he was awaiting the results of those tests.
The premier said it was likely restrictions also would be loosened soon on Cayman Brac, depending on the outcome of test results, but not to the same extent as Little Cayman.
“It’ll probably be somewhere between [Level] 2 and 3 (moderate to minimal suppression) in terms of restrictions,” he said. “I can see that we’d probably remove the Sunday curfew but we’d probably want to keep in effect the night curfew to discourage partying and the groups of people gathering together. Those are some of the considerations. We have to think about sizes of public gathering and so forth.
“We’re not certain that Cayman Brac is COVID-19-free. All of the signs are very encouraging, but we have not tested everyone on Cayman Brac like we have on Little Cayman.”
Three new cases
The three latest cases reported come from a batch of 224 samples, Lee said at Tuesday’s briefing. This brings to 78 the total number of confirmed virus cases on the islands.
Lee said 30 people have fully recovered, eight are symptomatic, 35 are asymptomatic, and two are being treated in Health City Cayman Islands for conditions not related to coronavirus.
Of the three new positives, one case had contact with a previously confirmed case, and the other two came from the new screening programme. All three cases are on Grand Cayman.
Lee said the two found through the screening tests were frontline staff, but were not healthcare workers.
He said the widespread screening of essential workers was necessary “so that every single positive can be identified and isolated”, adding that frontline workers were currently the target of the screening programme. The next group of employees to be screened will be construction workers, he said.
So far, 2,752 people have been tested across the three Cayman Islands.
Moms can get flowers on Mother’s Day
As a special treat for mothers across Cayman, the premier announced that a one-day exception would be made to allow florists to deliver flowers on Mother’s Day.
He said other businesses could also apply for a one-off exemption to deliver goods on Mother’s Day. Those companies can apply through www.exploregov.ky/curfewtime.
The premier also stated that hardware stores A.L. Thompson’s and Kirk Home Centre are now offering drive-through pick-up of pre-ordered goods. He said other stores could also apply to do so, through the above website.
Danielle Coleman of Hazard Management Cayman Islands stated that since the COVID-19 crisis began, 365 people have been accommodated in the five government-operated isolation facilities on Grand Cayman.
There are currently 125 individuals who remain in quarantine in those facilities, including the 12 members of the security team that arrived from the UK last week, she said.
It is mandatory for anyone arriving in the Cayman Islands from overseas to remain in isolation for 14 days. After that, each person is tested and is not allowed to leave quarantine until a negative result is returned.
When Cayman moves to the next level of lifting restrictions, possibly as early as 18 May, one of the provisions that is likely to be implemented is the mandatory wearing of face masks, officials have previously said.
At least one supermarket in Cayman, Kirk Market, is requiring all its staff and customers to wear masks inside its store in George Town. From Friday, 8 May, anyone not wearing a mask will not be allowed inside the shop.
Asked at Tuesday’s briefing how the mandatory wearing of masks can be introduced if there are not enough masks on island to go around or if people don’t have access to them, Lee pointed out that they were on sale at a number of outlets in Cayman.
And Hazard Management’s Coleman said members of the Legislative Assembly were in the process of handing out masks to their constituents. She added that RCIPS community officers were also distributing them, and that work was in progress to make masks available at supermarkets.
Confusion over ‘essential’ landscapers
Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said the Department of Environmental Health had been “flooded” with requests from landscapers wanting to dump garden waste at the George Town landfill.
Landscapers and gardeners are among the category of workers that were ‘unlocked’ on Monday when Cayman dropped to Suppression Level 4.
Since Monday, landscapers have been out in force, sprucing up gardens and roadsides that had been neglected during the lockdown.
However, Seymour said, many of those workers had not realised that they needed to get an exemption letter from authorities, which declared that they were essential workers under the revised regulations.
While the regulations do not specifically state that such a letter is required by these workers, the document is required as proof for police and others in authority who check if the workers are indeed exempt.
Seymour said that DEH staff have noted that most of the landscapers who attended the landfill on Monday “did not have exemptions”.
“The swift changes in the regulations may have been the cause of confusion as many of these gardeners did not have all the pertinent information and were inadvertently outside of the law,” he said.
The health minister added that DEH management and staff had “quickly addressed” the issue and implemented new landfill rules that complied with the new regulations.
These include: only one vehicle at a time will be allowed to enter the drop-off point at the landfill; all individuals must provide identification and an exemption letter at the request of DEH staff; all businesses must be exempted to work during curfew and provide the relevent paperwork.
Also, members of the public who want to drop off garbage at the landfill must also adhere to the alphabet system which is currently in place for supermarkets and banks.
Governor Roper said seats were still available on the Cayman Airways flight to Costa Rica, and he urged Costa Ricans on island who are without work to take advantage of that flight.
“We are in an emergency situation and we are certainly not able to say if there would be another flight to Costa Rica,” he said, adding that the employment situation was unlikely to ease “anytime soon” and that Caymanians would have first choice of any job openings.
He added that he was aware of the issues surrounding students from Cayman who needed to attend schools in the US, the UK and Canada. “We will do everything we can to help with flights,” including more British Airways flights to London, he said.
Roper also stated that the flight to Honduras, scheduled for Friday, would be bringing back a “handful” of Caymanians and permanent residents. “They will be able to book on that to come back to Grand Cayman from tomorrow,” he said.