New sanitation guidelines have been issued for tourism-related businesses to ensure the safety of visitors to local shores and guard against the spread of COVID-19.

While Cayman may be some months away from reopening borders to visitors, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell has emphasised the need to take appropriate health and safety steps.

“It is the responsibility of each of us in tourism and the wider community to ensure that we remain vigilant and follow all standards, best practices, and official guidelines to safeguard that we maintain this positive outcome,” Kirkconnell said in a ministry statement Friday announcing the new procedures.

He said Cayman’s “swift actions” at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has placed the country in “an excellent position to confidently begin reopening many areas of the economy that we all enjoy”.

Government’s goal, he said, is to ensure that each touchpoint of a guest’s experience is safe and clean once they are in the Cayman Islands.

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“This means we have to make adjustments from our usual ways of doing business, whether that is further spacing of tables in restaurants or limiting group sizes in public transportation, disinfecting surfaces more often; we must create a safe environment for the thousands of people in our industry, our community, and for our guests when they return,” he said.

Premier Alden McLaughlin has said Cayman’s borders will remain closed until at least 31 Aug., depending on the results of the ongoing expanded COVID-19 testing programme.

All ports of entry in Cayman were closed in March following confirmation of the first COVID-19 case on island.

All arriving passengers on repatriation flights, which have contained mainly Caymanian and permanent residents, are required to isolate in government facilities for 14 days.

It is unclear what the protocols will be for guests arriving when borders are officially reopened. McLaughlin had previously said those regulations are still being discussed.

The new sanitation guidelines provide specific requirements for those working in public transportation, accommodations, attractions, dive operations, and restaurants.

“It is imperative that the industry prepare for the reopening of these sectors to the local community who also uses those services but also for the pending return of global visitors,” the ministry statement said.

Through collaboration with government partners, such as the Ministry of Health, Department of Environmental Health, and private sector stakeholders, standards of practice were developed to establish industry guidelines for sanitation, it added.

The guidelines also provide a checklist for operators, as well as provisions to determine where cleaning supplies are sourced, whether COVID-19 training has been completed, and availability of personal protective equipment for staff.

Those working in public transportation are required to wear face masks at all times, hand sanitiser is suggested to be used at each bus stop, and every public transport operator is mandated to clean vehicles pre- and post-shift and note the activity in a log book, if applicable. The Public Transportation Unit is also required to provide training on sanitation measures.

Tour operators are required to set up shifts with a reduced number of staff, monitor the health of team members, and send home anyone with a fever. All staff are required to wear masks, and guests are encouraged to do the same. Staff members are also required to wash their hands every hour.

The guidelines also recommend that tours be pre-booked tours via website/email/phone to maintain social distancing.

For restaurants, staff are to wear masks at all times when providing service to customers, there must be social spacing while diners are waiting to be seated, and only six people are allowed per party.

Where possible restaurant staff, according to the guidelines, must utilise blackboards, menu boards and verbal communication. If this is not possible, paper menus should be provided. Where possible, the guidelines urged installation of foot pushes on doors to avoid touching handles.

Read the full guidelines here.

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