Committee set up to help open Cayman’s borders

No new cases reported from latest batch of tests

Premier Alden McLaughlin announced Friday that Cayman has set up a ‘Reopening of Borders Committee’, consisting of 10 government agencies and ministries to work on allowing international tourists to return to the islands.

The premier said much careful consideration would go into plans and policies before the borders reopen – currently slated for 1 Sept.

He made the announcement at Friday’s press briefing, at which Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee stated that, for the fourth time in the past week, there were no positive cases of COVID-19 among the latest results.

COVID-19 press conference for Friday, 26 June 2020

COVID-19 press conference for Friday, 26 June 2020.

Posted by Cayman Compass on Friday, June 26, 2020

The Reopening of Borders Committee will be guided by advice from the International Civil Aviation Organisation, through its Aviation Recovery Task Force, which is helping airports throughout the Americas and the Caribbean to safely operate during the COVID-19 crisis, McLaughlin said.

“It is essential that when our borders reopen, the process is managed in a reassuring, methodical and responsible way,” he said, adding that Cayman had to make sure that the many efforts and sacrifices made in the past three months were “not squandered”.

Even as Cayman explores how it will be able to start accepting international travellers at its airports and sea ports, the premier said he was “disheartened but not surprised” by reports that Florida, Texas and Arizona were pausing their reopening efforts due to spikes in COVID-19 infections.

He acknowledged that there were many challenges to reopening Cayman’s borders, especially if cases in the US continue to escalate. Describing Miami essentially as a “suburb” of the Cayman Islands, he noted that Florida has an infection rate of about 30% currently. Based on that information, “How can we possibly contemplate opening the borders to the US now?” he asked.

He added that Cayman would watch how the spread of the virus progresses in the US and “adjust plants as things evolve”.

Agencies that will be involved in the Reopening of Borders Committee are: the Ministry of District Administration, Tourism and Transport, the Governor’s Office, the Civil Aviation Authority, Cayman Islands Airports Authority, Cayman Airways, Department of Tourism, Port Authority, Ministry of Employment and Border Control, the Ministry of Health and the Health Services Authority.

So far, 22,657 people have been tested for coronavirus in Cayman. The latest negative results come from a batch of 391 samples.

Of the 196 positive cases recorded since March, only nine of those are considered to be active. All nine are asymptomatic.

Lee said 129 people are currently in government isolation facilities and 22 are isolating at home.

Referring to antibody tests, Lee said 383 results – mostly from healthcare workers – have been recorded so far, and the positive rate is 1.6%. He said this rate was lower than he had expected, especially as most of those tested were frontline workers who may have been exposed to the virus before Cayman was even aware the COVID-19 was present on island.

He said the aim of doing the antibody testing, which will determine if a person has ever had COVID-19, is to help establish how much the virus has penetrated the general community.

Lack of compliance at bars

The premier said he had received reports that a number of bars were not following regulations and were in breach of their liquor licensing conditions, as well as public health provisions.

He said in some instances, it was reported that well in excess of 100 people were gathering in parking lots of licensed premises, where DJs were playing, adding that a complete lack of social distancing was evident.

In response to this, the Department of Commerce and Investment will be stepping up the presence of its officers at venues to check that rules are being followed.

McLaughlin said he was worried about the behaviour being seen at some licensed premises, which he said ran the risk of undermining the work done in the Cayman Islands in controlling the spread of COVID-19.

He said the Liquor Licensing Board has asked him to address the lack of compliance seen at a number of bars this week.

“There have been numerous reports and complaints about certain local bars and in several other hot spots on Seven Mile Beach. It would seem the establishments are under the impression that the approval they have, has exempted them from adhering to all laws, including the Public Health Law,” he said.

He said proprietors of such premises would be held responsible for breaches of licensing and public health laws, even if the parties and gatherings in question were held outside the licensees’ establishments and whether the licensee was present at the time of the offence or not.

The premier said licensees were risking the suspension of their licences if breaches continues.

McLaughlin added that no extension of opening hours are being granted at this time.

The next press conference is scheduled to be held on Friday, 3 July. The premier said it was likely that, going forward, there would only be one press briefing a week.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Hello to everyone.
    Congrats on the great effort of containing a pandemic. The bubble is created.
    Till the time Cayman stays in the bubble, all should be well under control.
    Risk is when you open, and open the country will have to.
    When and how is the big equation.
    Two ways.
    First if there is a medication. Which is not anytime soon.
    Second is to be able to track a problem with lightning speed. This is doable but will need the cooperation of 100% of the population on island and a mandatory rule for all visitors who come on island. ( no exceptions)
    I can explain further if some one higher up wants to listen.
    Guri.

  2. Premier, think past the U.S. Their infection rate is due to a lack of complying to Science. Masks, would help, social distancing would help, but in these hot spots, that is not happening.

    Opening your borders to other Countries has to happen at some point, you may need to have an inclusions list, unfortunately, the U.S may not be on the first edition of it.

    I look forward to coming back to Cayman, I look forward to staying at my property in Cayman, I look forward to contributing to Cayman by spending money on the island.

    What I certainly don’t look forward to, is being shut out of Cayman till the U.S stops the COVID bleeding. Unfortunately Cayman is NOT a suburb of the Miami, it is just a close jumping off point, if Cayman were really a suburb, you would have kept that highway open from day 1. Travellers that are considered eligible to travel to Cayman, may have to connect in different Countries then pre COVID ….. time will change that, but until there is a vaccine, remaining border/land locked, is a fiscal gamble I don’t believe Cayman can manage.

    I’m excited by the creation of a Travel Committee focused on Tourism and Border reopening. This gives me hope that Cayman is thinking ahead and realizes that dollars spent on travel, can’t be made up by any other business on island … the GDP recovery will be accelerated by tourism, or a snippet of that.

    I remained focused on daily announcements, I look forward to being on island again, hopefully in 2020!

  3. A camel is a horse designed by a committee.

    And any committee of more than 4 achieves nothing. So one consisting of 10 government agencies will find it difficult to agree on anything.

    If we are going to have to decide on reopening for tourism then may I respectfully suggest it has some members from the tourism industry.

    But no committee is needed.

    We need to start with those visitors who spend the most and pose the least risk.

    Short term hotel guests therefore are problematic. People won’t come here for a one week vacation if they must spend all of it in quarantine.

    Long term second home owners should be welcomed back but required to self isolate with appropriate monitoring in their own homes.