New COVID-19-suppression regulations will see the lifting of mandatory wearing of masks inside public places and an increase in the number of people who can gather publicly to 250.

The regulations relating to masks do not specifically make reference to schools.

The regulations also see the lifting of a ban on renting scuba diving equipment, and an increase in the number of people who can be on boats.

The new regulations, which will run until 30 Sept., were gazetted Monday night.

It is expected that Premier Alden McLaughlin will announce the changes at the COVID-19 press briefing scheduled for 2pm today.

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According to the new regulations, a person over the age of 2 who is indoors
at a public place “may cover his or her mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face covering but is not required to do so”.

However, masks are still required to be worn while using public transportation.

The regulations also prohibit the owners or operators of public places from refusing entry to a person on the grounds that the person is either wearing a mask or cloth covering; or is not wearing a mask or cloth face covering.

When it comes to healthcare facilities, a residential home-care facility; prison or place of detention; and the airport, which require the wearing of masks, a person who refuses to do so shall be refused entry.

This includes any such other public place as may be specified by notice by the medical officer of health who shall also issue written guidance on the use of masks or cloth face coverings by children between the ages of 2 and 10 years old.

Public meetings are still prohibited, with the exception of educational institutions, places of business and organisations, including cinemas and theatres; and any church which can accommodate more than 250 persons.

Anyone in breach of the regulations commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of $1,000 and imprisonment for six months.

With the changes, wedding and funerals can now be held with up to 250 people, other than the bride, bridegroom, official witnesses and the marriage officer. In the case of funerals, there can be up to 250 attendees, other than the six pallbearers, at least one officiant and essential mortuary staff.

Sporting events will also be permitted provided that no more than 250 people are gathered at any time as spectators or as participants of the relevant sport.

Under the new regulations, increased vessel capacities for boats travelling between the three islands of the Cayman Islands is permitted.

Visits to retirement homes allowed

Visitation of individuals under quarantine remains restricted, with the exception of written permission of Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez.

In the case of a patient who has tested positive for the virus and who is in a healthcare facility, those wishing to visit that patient can only do so with the written permission of the medical officer of health; and must comply with the directions of the facility’s manager when it comes to personal protective equipment within the healthcare facility.

Visits will be allowed at residential home-care facilities in Grand Cayman or Cayman Brac, subject to the visitor being tested for COVID-19 within three days prior to the date of the intended visit and that test been declared negative by the medical officer of health.

The same requirement has been stipulated for prison visits with the additional requirement that visitors at the prison adhere to the directions of the director of prisons and the medical officer of health in relation to the use of personal protective equipment in the place of detention.

Rental of scuba equipment allowed

Government has lifted its ban on the rental of scuba equipment, subject to the compliance of specific guidelines.

Among those guidelines are: registering with the Department of Environmental Health for monitoring and ensuring compliance with this regulation; ensuring that all shared scuba and snorkelling equipment is cleaned each day using an agent approved for use against the virus by the DEH; and where the person rents any shared scuba equipment to a customer, the person shall not rent the same shared scuba equipment to another customer within a three-day period.

These regulations do not apply to dive tanks.

The director of the Department of Environmental Health shall issue written guidelines on the use of shared scuba or snorkeling equipment, including a list of agents approved for use against the virus.

The use of hookah, shisha pipes or water pipes remains banned.

Travel and boating changes

Under the travel changes, a person who has not been in the Cayman Islands for at least 14 days will be allowed to travel between islands subject to not less than 48 hours prior to travelling, seeking the approval of the chief officer of the Ministry of International Trade, Investment, Aviation and Maritime Affairs to travel; and being tested for and receiving a negative COVID-19 test.

Those who have been in the islands for at least 14 days prior to the date of travel and are not showing any respiratory symptoms or symptoms of the virus are allowed to travel inter-island without a test.

Boat operators, under the new changes, can carry up to 250 people or its legal capacity, whichever is lesser.

However, operators cannot congregate or gather with any other person on any other boat or vessel where the number of persons gathering exceeds 250.

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