Need to Know: Cayman tweaks plans for phased border reopening

The good news for those abroad hoping to travel to the Cayman Islands is that the phased reopening of Cayman’s borders is still scheduled to begin on 1 Oct.

Government, however, announced a few tweaks to the process for incoming travellers at Wednesday’s COVID-19 press conference. Here’s how things stand right now:

Who can travel to Cayman?

In the initial phase, the reopening is aimed at Caymanians, permanent residents, work-permit holders, people who own property here and those planning to spend an extended amount of time on the island, Premier Alden McLaughlin said at the briefing. The number of people who can travel here next month is being capped at 800, he said. The ‘global citizen initiative’ that will allow people to live in Cayman and work remotely overseas as ‘digital nomads’ should also be in place, allowing for a small influx of new long-stay residents.

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Which airlines can fly here?

McLaughlin said Wednesday that passengers will only be able to reach Cayman by air through Cayman Airways or British Airways. Commercial flights from other airlines will not be allowed during this first phase. Private planes and chartered flights, however, will be allowed to land at Owen Roberts International Airport. Cayman Airways has a limited number of flights scheduled to Miami, Florida; La Ceiba, Honduras; and Kingston, Jamaica next month, while British Airways flies to London Heathrow. Cayman ports remain closed to cruise ships. Some airlines are marketing flights to the Cayman Islands and accepting future bookings, but no airlines have permission to operate commercial flights while Cayman’s borders are closed.

What’s the process?

Prospective travellers must apply to TravelTime for pre-approval. Those permitted to travel to Cayman must present their TravelTime authorisation form and must undergo a PCR test upon arrival. Travellers then either participate in the Quarantine at Residence Programme and wear a geofencing monitoring device or agree to be taken directly to a government isolation centre. The period of time for either option is a minimum of 16 days, including 14 days of isolation, with a negative PCR test on the 15th day required to be released from quarantine. Non-resident travellers must provide proof of health insurance that includes COVID-19 coverage.

What’s the difference between this and the previous plan?

The amount of time a person needs to isolate is really the main difference.

The previously announced plan called for a five-day isolation period at a private residence if the traveller agreed to wear a BioButton to monitor health and vital signs. The premier, however, said on Wednesday that the COVID-19 situation in the US is not improving and therefore shortening the isolation period was too risky.

It emerged this week that a traveller who ended her 14-day quarantine at a government facility was allowed to leave before the second PCR test result was returned. However, she tested positive for COVID, and the situation, no doubt, will call more attention to the quarantine protocols for arriving passengers.

What’s the geofencing device all about?

The electronic device is required for those opting to isolate at a private residence or hotel instead of a government quarantine facility. The device, worn around the wrist, tracks the user’s whereabouts and sounds an alarm if the wearer leaves the permitted area or damages the tracker. The first batch arrived on island on Wednesday. Each one costs $150-$200. The premier said it has not been determined yet who will pay for them, but the cost of the device is far less than paying for quarantine accommodation.

Speaking of the BioButtons, how do they factor into the equation?

That remains unclear. Some of the health-monitoring devices are already on island but, as of this week, they don’t appear to have a role to play in the process that begins 1 Oct.

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  1. Could we possibly look at how successful Bermuda has been with testing every 5 days and on the 14 day with negative test you are good to move about. Also suggestion as made by hotels couldnt small condos have a pod type structure. Many are small and can allow for guest to stay on beach while distancing and using a service to deliver groceries and food until they are cleared.

  2. Whats the protocol for people who will be returning and opting to quarantine at home but have other family members there. How will the other family members be monitored?

    No one from travel time has said anything about having health insurance that covers COVID-19 specifically. How do we find out more.

    • Editor’s note: According to the regulations, any person in the same household as those returning and quarantining at home are required also to quarantine for the same period of time. According to Premier Alden McLaughlin at the COVID press briefing last week, any person not normally resident in the Cayman Islands who arrives and is subject to quarantine is required to have health insurance that include COVID-19 insurance.

  3. How does one apply to “TravelTime” to plan our trip there?

    Also, we have a house on Little Cayman – if approved to travel, once we arrive on Grand, can we fly straight to Little Cayman or do we have to stay on Grand for a while?