Gov’t to keep border closed till October

Kirkconnell: “It is the most prudent thing to do given the environment beyond our shores".

Government has extended Cayman’s border closures to 1 Oct. citing the continuing spread of COVID-19, particularly in the United States.

In a statement Friday evening, government said Cabinet has decided to extend the border closures for an additional 30 days at which time it will be reassessed.

Borders were initially expected to reopen 1 Sept. under a phased plan announced last month by Premier Alden McLaughlin and Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell.

The plan included requiring travellers who have tested negative for COVID-19 three days prior to arriving on island to wear a BioButton and self-isolate at a residence of their choice for five days, or, if they choose not to wear the device, they must quarantine at a government-managed facility for 14 days, officials said in a press release.

However, according to Friday’s statement, “having continually monitored the rate of infection in other countries, particularly in the United States where the pandemic is still widespread”, the planned reopening will be delayed.

The announcement also comes one day after the US Department of State listed Cayman Islands as “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” on a list of international travel advisories.

“Reconsider travel to the Cayman Islands due to health and safety measures and COVID-related conditions,” the travel advisory read, even though Cayman has not had anyone test positive for COVID-19 in 24 days (as of 6 Aug.) and has no active coronavirus cases.

Addressing repatriation flights, the government statement said, “During this time, repatriation flights by Cayman Airways will continue to operate on an ad hoc basis and the air bridge between the UK and the Cayman Islands will also remain open, as this provides a vitally important link between the two countries.”

Kirkconnell, who is also tourism minister, commented in the release on the decision to extend the closures, saying, “From the outset of the pandemic the government has placed the highest priority on public health and safety and we are approaching the reopening of the Islands borders with the same degree of due care and attention.”

He added it was “unfortunate” government had to take that decision, but it was the “most prudent thing to do given the environment beyond our shores”.

Kirkconnell said waiting to open Cayman’s borders “is allowing us to learn from the experiences of other countries and is ensuring that sufficient time is allocated to putting all of the necessary precautions in place [to] keep our Islands safe and people protected”.

Pointing to the start of the academic year in September, government said it has recognised that parents are keen to confirm travel plans to accompany students needing to go overseas to continue their education.

“The Governor’s Office has confirmed that a British Airways flight will leave the Cayman Islands for London, Gatwick on 28 Aug., which is mainly for students and their parents,” the press release said, adding the office is in advanced discussions with British Airways to introduce a regular fortnightly service to London, Gatwick. More details are expected to be released next week.

Cayman Airways, it pointed out, is also scheduling a series of repatriation flights from Cayman to Miami, US; Kingston, Jamaica; and Le Ceiba, Honduras.

“Although there are no restrictions on outbound travel from the Cayman Islands, non-essential travel is strongly discouraged, as options to return are limited and travellers may have to remain overseas longer than anticipated,” the release said.

Some commercial airlines are offering flights to the Cayman Islands and accepting future bookings, which government said it is aware of.

However, it clarified that while Cayman’s borders remain closed, “approval has not been granted for the operation of any commercial flights.

“Travellers who make reservations directly with any airline while the Islands borders are closed are doing so at their own risk. It should also be noted that airline vouchers issued by other airlines for such flights are not transferrable to the British Airways repatriation flights, nor are they valid for use on Cayman Airways,” the statement said.

All people wishing to travel inbound on board a repatriation flight must register their travel request with TravelTime, and complete an online form at www.exploregov.ky/traveltime, in order to receive pre-travel approval while borders remain closed, the statement said.

“Travellers who have not completed this process will not be permitted to board a repatriation flight,” it added.

“The Cayman Islands Government, through TravelTime are making every effort to assist residents with returning home. However, travellers should remain aware that we are in uncertain and challenging times and with inbound travel restrictions in place, delays in securing a return flight should be expected,” the statement said.

Government policy stipulates that all people entering the Cayman Islands must be quarantined for 14 days in a government facility and will require a negative PCR test prior to returning to their own accommodations.   

Questions or concerns pertaining to inbound travel should be directed to TravelTime by emailing [email protected] or by calling 649-6913 between the hours of 8:30am and 5:00pm, Monday to Friday.

Current information about the Cayman Islands COVID-19 response and suppression strategies is available at https://www.exploregov.ky/coronavirus

Upcoming flights:

Miami, US:

1, 4, 11, 18 and 25 September

Kingston, Jamaica:

2, 16 and 30 September

Le Ceiba, Honduras:

19 August and 23 September

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now

1 COMMENT

  1. It is unreasonable to ban all countries from visiting Cayman due to the fact that Covid-19 is rampant and out of control in the USA. Furthermore, since they have a village idiot running their country, do they not realize that the USA cannot possibly have Covid 19 under control by the end of the year given the huge numbers of daily infections which continue to rise exponentially? So are they going to shut down ALL tourism for the whole year? And into 2021? Why has the government taken an all-or-none approach? Do they not see that they are penalizing other countries, like the U.K., Canada, Ireland, Germany, etc where Covid 19 is well under control? And do they not realize that they are also heavily penalizing their own people? People who rely on tourism for their livelihood need whatever tourism dollars they can get; each month that goes by, more will go bankrupt. It is totally illogical not to allow select countries to enter — THAT is what a staged opening looks like.