Sunday all-day hard curfew lifted, beaches to reopen Tuesday

Cayman's public beaches and ironshore will be reopened to the public from Tuesday under revised shelter-in-place regulations. The beaches will remain closed on Sundays, however. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Police Commissioner Derek Byrne announced Friday that the Sunday all-day hard curfew will be lifted as of this weekend, as health officials confirmed one new case of COVID-19.

The night-time curfew, from 8pm until 5am, will now apply seven days a week.

As Cayman moves from ‘Level 4’ (high suppression) to ‘Level 3’ (moderate suppression), public beaches will be reopened for exercise only from Tuesday, when the new shelter-in-place regulations come into effect. Under those regulations, the amount of time people can exercise is being extended from 90 minutes to two hours a day, between 5:15am and 7pm.

The beaches will remain closed every Sunday, the commissioner said. From Tuesday, the alphabet system, currently being used to determine on which day people can visit a supermarket or bank, will now be applied to beach access as well, he added.

In another change to exercise rules, people will be able to drive to the beach or other places where they wish to run or walk or swim – again on their assigned ‘letter day’.

Fishing, snorkelling, swimming, kayaking and paddle-boarding will be allowed from Tuesday. Scuba diving is still prohibited. The use of Jet Skis or WaveRunners remains banned, the commissioner said.

When fishing from a boat, a maximum of two people will be allowed per vessel.

Visiting Star Fish Point, Rum Point or the Sandbar by boat remains banned. Premier Alden McLaughlin stated that there is to be no anchoring of boats in those areas.

Access to swimming pools and tennis courts in stratas is also being re-introduced. McLaughlin, however, stressed that physical-distancing measures must remain in place when pools and tennis courts are being used.

“If you are not members of the same household, congregation at the pool or on the tennis court is limited to two persons. … If it’s a group from the same household … if there’s three of you, you can go to the pool together, but only one other person may be there interacting with you at any given time,” he said.

He added, “This is all very awkward, we understand. I pray patience – all going well, it’s just another two weeks of this sort of limitation.”

Reopening more businesses

McLaughlin said a number of businesses will be allowed to be open from Tuesday, including: hardware stores and home depots; car dealerships and other businesses which sell vehicle parts, and maintain and repair vehicles; boat-maintenance companies; car-wash businesses; and construction, building and maintenance companies, including businesses which provide engineering, plumbing, electrical, air conditioning and similar services.

Construction sites will be reopened in phases, he said.

He also announced that public buses will be back on the roads from Tuesday. Buses will only be allowed to carry half of their passenger capacity, and everyone on board must wear a mask.

Mandatory mask wearing

It will be mandatory to wear masks indoors in public areas and on buses from Tuesday. Photo: Alvaro Serey

Also from Tuesday, it will be mandatory to wear a mask when indoors at a public place or in shops or businesses where it is difficult to enforce the 6-feet social-distancing measure.

The premier said proprietors can deny entry to anyone who refuses to wear a mask on their premises.

Several supermarkets on island are already requiring their customers to wear masks while inside stores.

The premier said people with medical conditions that make it impossible or dangerous for them to wear a mask will be exempt from doing so, if they can produce a doctor’s certificate to that effect.

Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said 100,000 cloth masks had been secured – 50,000 from US company Hanes, with the assistance of Dart, and another 50,000 from a supplier in Jamaica.

He said community support police officers were going door-to-door distributing the masks in the districts and, as of Thursday, a total of 2,735 of the masks had been handed out, including 600 on Cayman Brac.

He added that distribution would continue until all households on all three islands had been supplied with masks. All front-line staff are also being supplied with masks, he said.

Police officers will be stationed outside supermarkets to hand out disposable masks to shoppers who do not have them.

Disposable masks have also been given to all district MLAs to distribute among their constituents.

The health minister reminded people to continue to observe hand and respiratory hygiene, as well as wear masks.

One new case

Cayman has one new case of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases to 94, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee.

So far, 5,900 people have been tested across all three islands. Of the 94 cases, nine are symptomatic, 28 are asymptotic, and 54 have recovered. Two people with coronavirus, who were being treated at Health City Cayman Islands for other conditions, have been released, Lee said.

He also announced that Cayman would soon be introducing antibody testing, which will show if a person has previously had the coronavirus.

He said such tests would help indicate how prevalent COVID-19 has been in the Cayman Islands.

As of early Thursday afternoon, Lee said, 55 people were in government isolation facilities, but that number would rise today as a flight arrives from Miami bringing back Caymanians and permanent residents. He said 104 people were isolating at home.

Repatriation flights

Governor Martyn Roper announced that a British Airways flight had been scheduled to travel to Manila on Saturday, 23 May, to take home some of the many Philippine nationals living in the Cayman Islands.

The cost of the ticket is US$1,800 and the flight be routed via London, but no one can disembark there.

Anyone who has been in touch with the travel helpline will be contacted about this flight, the governor said, adding that all passengers will be encouraged to wear masks.

No one will be allowed to travel to Cayman on that flight, he said, “largely because our isolation facilities are at capacity at the moment”.

He said another air-bridge flight to Heathrow was under discussion and was likely to be scheduled for early June. Other flights are also being considered for July and August, for students from Cayman travelling to UK to university or school.

He said discussions were also under way to organise a flight to India.

Additional flights to and from Miami are also being considered, Roper said, but there will be no flights to other US destinations. “We would encourage people to go to Miami and go on under their own steam from Miami,” he said.

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