The day has finally come – Cayman’s borders officially reopen Thursday, 1 Oct., albeit in a limited capacity.
A specific set of procedures is in place for those wishing to travel to the Cayman Islands, including a series of COVID-19 tests, quarantine and, potentially for some, the use of geo-tracking devices.
Here’s what you need to know as Cayman readies for its first visitors since March:
- Government has widened its safety bubble to allow additional categories of people to enter Cayman. Previously only Caymanians, permanent residents, work-permit holders and their families were allowed to enter Cayman under the phased reopening. Now, residential property owners, those on student visas and relatives of residents (spouses, fiances, parents, grandparents, siblings) will be allowed entry.
- Until borders are fully opened, only private charters and repatriation flights operated by Cayman Airways and British Airways are allowed to enter the Cayman Islands. CAL currently provides repatriation service to Miami, Kingston, Jamaica and Le Ceiba, Honduras, while British Airways continues to operate between Grand Cayman and London, Heathrow every two weeks.
- Those wishing to travel must register their inbound travel request with Travel Time and complete the online form. Anyone with questions or concerns about inbound travel should email Travel Time at [email protected] or call 649-6913 between 8:30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
- All travellers (ages 5 and over) will be tested at the airport for COVID-19.
- At this point, inbound travellers must quarantine for approximately two weeks. There are two quarantine options: 1) You can quarantine at a residence. Travellers wishing to quarantine at a residence must meet government-established criteria, agree to wear a geofencing device and the residence in question must be pre-approved by Public Health. Anyone else residing in the household would also be subject to the same quarantine requirements. During October, travellers approved to quarantine at residences will not be charged a fee for the iMSafe electronic monitoring wristband or for the PCR tests which they undergo, the Tourism Ministry said.
- Those not approved or who do not wish to isolate at a residence will be required to quarantine either at a government or privately run facility at their own expense.In both cases, the quarantine period is 14 days followed by a PCR test on the 15th day. A negative result signed off by the Medical Officer of Health is required for the quarantine period to end.
Any member of the household who does not comply with the quarantine-at-residence conditions could be in breach of the Prevention, Control and Suppression of Covid-19 (Partial Lifting of Restrictions) (No.4) (Amendment) Regulations. Fines for breaches may soon increase.
Travellers will be required to state which quarantine option they wish to use on the Travel Time application. Permission to quarantine at a residence is not guaranteed.
- While a household is in quarantine, food, medication and essential supplies should be ordered from suppliers who accept contactless payment and offer delivery service. Delivery personnel, relatives and friends are not allowed to enter the home or have physical contact with the occupants while they are in quarantine.
- All inbound travellers will be required to attest to a statement which confirms that they possess health insurance which includes COVID-19 coverage, or that they understand the financial risks they are taking and that they have independent means to cover their medical costs.
On 17 Sept., government initiated field testing its electronic monitoring and geofencing technology which it intends to use for the border reopening.
“All reports indicate that the testing phase is proceeding as anticipated and no breaches have been reported. Evaluations will continue on the technology, processes and procedures in readiness for 1st October, when an increased number of flights are expected and more returning travellers, including home owners, will be quarantining at approved locations,” according to a statement from the Tourism Ministry.
A total of 29 travellers from the British Airways flight which arrived 17 Sept. have been participating in the pilot phase of the home-monitoring protocols and testing the technology while quarantining at home for 14 days.
“All of the participants will be tested again on day 15 and will require a negative PCR test result signed off by the Medical Officer of Health for their quarantine period to cease,” the statement said.
Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, in the statement, addressed the economic impact of remaining closed to the rest of the world, saying it is “increasingly translating into business closures and job losses, leaving Caymanian families facing significant hardship”.
Government, he said, is doing as much as it can to provide relief and financial support to those most affected, “but this will not be sustainable over the long term”.
He added, “In the meantime, we are continuing to monitor and learn from the experiences of jurisdictions that have already opened and we are putting robust health and safety mechanisms in place so that when it becomes safe to do so, tourists can gradually be welcomed back to our shores, enabling people to return to work.”