No new COVID-19 cases but landscapers warned to respect regulations

Pension companies flooded with thousands of requests

Premier Alden McLaughlin spelled out a stark warning to landscaping companies amid reports that some are jamming employees into small vans to travel to job sites.

Though landscapers are allowed to go back to work, he said social-distancing laws still apply and there would be ‘no second chances’ for those who broke those regulations.

Landscapers got back to work Monday as regulations began to be relaxed
Landscapers got back to work Monday as regulations began to be relaxed, but Premier Alden McLaughlin has warned that some could have that entitlement revoked if they break social distancing laws. Photo: Taneos Ramsay

He said cramming workers into a small space to travel to a job may have been common practice before COVID-19 but was now “incredibly dangerous” and was an offence for the employees and the business.

Speaking directly to business owners, he said, “If we find out that is what you are doing we will remove your permission to operate … there will be no second chances.”

Though Cayman had no new COVID-19 cases to announce Wednesday and 298 negatives, McLaughlin said people should not relax and the virus could flare up quickly if the rules were not followed.

Pension companies inundated

Pension companies have been flooded with requests for information since government’s decision to allow people to tap into their retirement savings amid the economic crisis caused by COVID-19.

Amy Wolliston, superintendent of pensions for Cayman Islands, urged people to be patient as they tried to access their money.

She said the various pension companies had received 6,000 calls and requests during the week of 20 April and a further 8,200 last week.

“Just because you didn’t get an answer 24 hours after you ask a question, doesn’t mean anybody is ignoring you.”

Wolliston appeared at the briefing via Zoom to recap some of the details of the new amendments to the pension laws.

She said account holders were entitled to withdraw a lump sum of $10,000 from their retirement savings as well as 25% of whatever is left.

Anyone who has multiple pensions can withdraw from each account according to the same formula.

A notarised copy of personal identification documents must be provided with each application, she said.

She warned that people should be careful about whether they tapped into their pension savings and how much they took out.

Anyone who withdraws money should seek to replace it over time, she added. Though mandatory contributions to funds are suspended until October, she said it was advisable for people to restock their pensions if and when they had the opportunity.

“If you take it out, it will not be there later,” she said.

“There will be nothing left for you to receive in retirement.”

She clarified that people did not need to have lost their jobs to access their pensions under the law.

Flights to Dominican Republic and Miami

Governor Martyn Roper confirmed a flight to the Dominican Republic would take place at some point in the next 10 days.

Another flight to Miami has also been organised with a date to be announced shortly. Cayman Islands residents will be able to get back to the island from the US on the return leg of that flight.

Discussions are ongoing over possible flights to Jamaica, India and the Philippines.

298 negative results

There were 298 negatives and no new positives in the latest batch of COVID-19 test  results.

Dr. John Lee said the screening tests were going well and thanked those who had come forward to be swabbed.

“Yesterday we announced two positives from that screening. It is vitally important that people do come forward,” he said.

Lee noted there was resistance from some people to getting swabbed but encouraged frontline workers to get tested.

He said they could be asymptomatic but it was important that they get tested for their own health and to ensure they were not spreading the virus to their friends, relatives and people they interact with.

“It is important for the community,” he added.

In total, Cayman has had 78 positive cases. Of those, eight people are symptomatic, 37 are asymptomatic, two COVID-19 patients are hospitalised for other conditions and 30 are now fully recovered, meaning they have had two negative ‘exit tests’ for the virus.

Freedom for Little Cayman

The lockdown on Little Cayman was lifted Tuesday after 94% of the population were tested, with all coming back negative for COVID-19. That figure was up to 96% today.

The results were good enough for authorities to give the island the all-clear and lift all curfew measures.

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 at Tuesday’s briefing.

Grand Cayman adjustments

Government announced some adjustments to the curfew regime in Grand Cayman Friday, with those measures coming into effect Monday.

While most businesses remain closed and the majority of residents are required to stay at home, the categories of people allowed to work have been expanded.

Pool-servicing and mobile car-wash companies are among the businesses that have been allowed to reopen, with many getting back to work Monday morning. The soft and hard curfew remain in place.

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