It is easy to throw uplifting quotes at a crisis, telling people that, if only they look hard enough, there will be an opportunity hidden somewhere.

For some, few experiences will have changed lives like the COVID-19 pandemic. No travel, no personal contact, no schools, no help with childcare, no services, no income. We all recognise some or perhaps all the effects that the lockdown has caused.

Cautious, sensible decision-making has helped Cayman avoid the most tragic consequences of the coronavirus crisis.

This unprecedented time has offered an opportunity for many to reflect on what is truly important.

Sometimes you don’t know what you have got ‘til it’s gone. And the restrictions on beach access, on socialising with friends and family and on fishing and diving, reminded us how important these simple things are to our way of life.

Being banned from fishing was a reminder of the importance of these simple pleasures. Photo – Kevin Morales

We recognise that Utopian thinking must be tempered with a sufficient dose of real-world practicality. While half of the population will be on ‘staycation’ over the holiday weekend, enjoying the charms of Cayman without the crowds, the other half is still in survival mode. There are thousands of people who needed a paycheque yesterday.

Like a retreating tide, the virus has exposed some of the weaknesses of our society and made us aware of the real benefits of the natural world, work-life balance, and some of the simple but important aspects of living on an island.

It has also given us a unique opportunity to press the reset button. This is a rare chance and should not be wasted. Saving jobs and businesses and learning how to function in a post-COVID-19 world will be the short-term goal.

The longer-term ambition must be to build a stronger, more resilient and self-reliant Cayman that reflects a clear vision of where the islands want to go.

The crisis is forcing us to ask hard questions about education, the economy, our infrastructure, the environment , tourism and more. 

Education requires a fundamental shift – using available data – to prepare Caymanians for the careers of the future, as well as retrain them for the jobs which exist today.

Digital poverty has made access to online learning a challenge for so many families, and it highlights the concern of the inadequacy of the necessary infrastructure and training required to exist in our digital future.

For those who have a job, the lines between home and work have blurred. As a result, childcare is now recognised more than ever as essential work and the flexibility needed during the crisis is here stay.

The environment has seen unexpected benefits during the pandemic.

An empty Seven Mile Beach as seen from the sky.

The absence of traffic and the less intensive use of natural resources have shown what a greener world might feel like.

But this does not mean that the path to recovery is predetermined to be green. It will be tempting to return to the old fossil-fuel ways in search of quick fixes, rather than take the path of revitalisation that would see a wider push for renewable energy, public transport, modern waste disposal and home energy efficiency.

It is up to Cayman’s leaders –not just those currently in power, but those who see themselves as contenders come election time next May – to articulate a vision for this country that allows us to embrace the future while regaining some of that old-time charm that fosters a happy and supportive community.

Over the next two months, in a special series for our Issues section, the Compass will explore the key questions at stake as the island seeks to chart a new course. From traffic and tourism, to jobs and training, development and the environment, food security and technology, and infrastructure challenges, we will delve into the central issues facing our country and seek to determine what kind of Cayman could emerge in the aftermath of the crisis.

This is a chance to create our Cayman 2.0.

What do we want it to look like?

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I’m having a hard time understanding why 13 people did not like this article. It’s timely, realistic and pursues questions regarding a cleaner, healthier future for the people and the environment. A time to make sure all people of Cayman are noticed and employed. I agree this is an opportunity to hit the reset button. There is nothing but time to sort out what can be done better and more efficiently. For those who are familiar with the Islands struggles, this makes perfect sense.