Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell on Friday announced Cayman’s borders will reopen to international travel starting on 1 Sept. The reopening will come in phases.
“The prospect of reopening is a subject of concern to many in our communities,” said Kirkconnell at government’s COVID-19 press briefing, adding that government has noted the COVID-19 situation in North America and beyond.
“We also recognise that keeping our borders closed indefinitely is not reasonable, sustainable and cannot continue from an economic standpoint.”
Here’s the first phase of reopening starting 1 Sept:
- Potential passengers must take a COVID-19 test 72 hours before departing. The result must come back negative.
- Potential visitors fill out an online application, which includes requirement to prove the COVID-19 test result. TravelTime will consider the application and provide a decision as to whether the potential visitor is given permission to arrive.
- Approved passengers will arrive at Owen Roberts International Airport and adhere to the facility’s new social distancing protocols.
- Visitors will receive a health monitoring device upon arriving in the Cayman Islands.
- After clearing immigration and customs, visitors will then be taken to a monitored self-isolation for five days.
- Visitors then are given another COVID-19 test. If negative, visitors are able to leave isolation but must still wear the monitoring device.
- The first phase applies to repatriation flights rather than scheduled commercial flights.
Kirkconnell said TravelTime will consider where a person is travelling from when determining whether to grant permission to travel to Cayman. Travellers will also need to pay a flat registration fee that would help cover the cost of the monitoring device and other costs incurred with the reopening protocols.
He added that geofencing could be used to ensure arriving visitors remain in isolation during their first five days in the country.
Kirkconnell said the next phase of reopening would not include isolation but declined to give a date on when that phase would begin.
Government does not have a pre-set number of visitors it intends to allow to travel to Cayman during the first phase. Instead, Kirkconnell said, that number depends on a number of variables, including the number of people who leave on repatriation flights.
“Safety and security will remain the main drivers in decision making,” Kirkconnell said. “We prefer to err on the side of caution.”
Officials said more details relating to the reopening of the borders would be released next week and regulations were being drawn up.
Restrictions will further ease on Sunday
Premier Alden McLaughlin on Friday further outlined easing of Cayman’s COVID-19 suppression measures scheduled to take place on Sunday. The restrictions will remain in place until 31 Aug. All the restrictions are subject to social distancing protocol.
- Up to 50 people now allowed to gather in public
- Dancing and karaoke will be allowed
- Night clubs can open and accommodate up to 50 patrons
- Hookah/shisha remain prohibited
- Up to 50 people can now attend weddings in addition to the bride, groom, official witnesses and the marriage officer
- Up to 50 people can now attend funerals in addition to the six pallbearers and essential mortuary staff and officiants
- You can now visit residential care home facilities, like the Pines Retirement Home, with a negative PCR test within three days of visiting
- Contact sports permitted. Players and fans will be considered two separate groups, meaning there can be up to 50 participants and up to 50 spectators
- No change in scuba/snorkel restrictions
- Travel between Cayman’s three islands can now be done without a PCR test, providing travellers have been in Cayman for more than two weeks
- Commercial boats can now carry up to 50% of their licensed capacity, not exceeding 50 people
- Gathering of boats will be able to take place with up to 50 people gathered
- Travel will be permitted by boat between islands for pleasure
- Restrictions remain with access to Stingray City and the Sandbar. Only those with a Wildlife International Zone licence are permitted to visit those areas
- Vessels remain prohibited from visiting Starfish Point and Rum Point
No new cases
Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee reported 274 negative tests on Friday, with no positives.
That means Cayman’s total number of positive cases remains at 203, with 200 people who have recovered. There are two active cases remaining, both of those people are asymptomatic.
There are 137 people who remain isolated at government facilities and five people isolating at their homes.
Fewer people reporting flu-like symptoms in 2020
Lee said the virus prevention measures that health leaders have been recommending have led to a significant drop off in the number of people reporting flu-like symptoms.
In April – when government’s COVID-19 prevention measures intensified along with public service announcements recommending handwashing, physical distancing and other measures – there were half the number of flu-like symptoms reported compared to the same month in 2018 and 2019.
It was the same story in May. June was even better, with only a quarter of the number of people with flu-like symptoms in 2018 and 2019 reporting having them in 2020.
Government provides update on small-business support
The Cayman Islands Centre for Business Development has paid out more than $1 million to applicants and approved another $386,000 as part of its micro- and small-business programme.
There have been 1,085 applications to the programme, with an approval rate of 84%, the premier said.
Approved applicants receive a full payment of $3,000.
There were another 74 applications received under the low interest loan programme. Eleven applications have been approved in that programme and another seven assessed for approval with a total value of $615,000 in approval stage.
Read the latest regulations in full: