Travel Cayman, which took over from TravelTime earlier this month to deal with incoming travel applications, is set to launch an online portal to deal with the growing number of queries from people seeking to return to or come to Cayman.

A Government Information Services press release stated that the portal is in development, and will “reduce the need to call and email the Travel Cayman team”.

Numerous people who have tried to contact Travel Cayman by phone have complained to the Cayman Compass that they have been put in a caller queue and put on hold – some for more than an hour and a half – before getting to the top of the queue and receiving a message saying there are technical issues and their call cannot be dealt with.

The press release did not give a timeline for when the new online system would be operational, but said it would be launched “in the coming days”.

The portal will “allow travellers to select quarantine arrangements and submit travel plans online, removing the need for manual responses to each query”, the release noted.

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Under the latest travel arrangements, travellers can book repatriation flights directly with Cayman Airways and British Airways – the only two airlines currently approved to fly into Cayman.

The release noted that although Travel Cayman approval is still required prior to entering the Cayman Islands, “this will remove the requirement for travellers to seek entry approval before purchasing a ticket to fly from La Ceiba, Honduras; Kingston, Jamaica; or Miami, Florida”.

The Travel Cayman management team’s “pivotal role” is to ensure that quarantine options are managed in relation to inbound travel and the availability of government, private and quarantine-at-residence options, the release stated. The team also determines the supply of monitoring technology to travellers who require them for mandatory quarantine protocol.

The release noted that inbound travel applications are prioritised weekly, based on the coming week’s number of travellers, and flight clearances.

Travel Cayman, according to the release, is asking the public not to call or email unless they are travelling to the Cayman Islands in October. Travellers to the Cayman Islands this month need not reapply, it stated.

The release also pointed out that some airlines are offering flights to the Cayman Islands and accepting bookings, but reiterated that only Cayman Airways and British Airways have permission to offer repatriation flights.

Cayman has a quota of 800 inbound passengers for October.

Premier Alden McLaughlin said earlier this month that the 800 limit had been met for October and no new applications would be accepted. Those who unsuccessfully applied for travel in October would be given priority for November, he said.

Inbound travel in November

Thursday’s press release stated that travellers can book flights directly with Cayman Airways for November, while British Airways travellers can book directly with BA for the approved repatriation flights, scheduled on 12 and 26 Nov.

Travellers may apply for quarantine arrangements via the Travel Cayman portal.

“Travellers who have already applied for November arrival are asked to reapply in order to select quarantine options. The public has been asked to wait to apply for quarantine arrangements until the new portal has been launched,” the release stated.

Quarantine options

Arriving travellers are subject to a 14-day quarantine period, and will be tested for COVID-19 on the 15th day, with results usually delivered the following day. They are required to remain in isolation until their results are returned.

There are currently three quarantine options:

  1. Quarantine at a government-run facility: This option is available to Caymanians and those with permanent residency.
  2. Quarantine at a privately-run hotel: Those who wish to quarantine at any of these facilities should contact the hotel directly. Once booked, travellers should provide Travel Cayman with their reservation number to complete the processing of the application for travel to the Cayman Islands.
  3. Quarantine at residence: The private residence can be the traveller’s home or private residence. This cannot be a shared dwelling. Travellers who agree to the quarantine-at-residence programme must agree to wear an iMSafe smart wristband and undergo COVID-19 testing on arrival at the Owen Roberts International Airport and again on day 15. A day-15 negative test result, sign-off by the Medical Officer of Health and off-boarding by the Mobile Compliance Team will be required in order for the quarantine period to cease. The off-boarding process includes inspection and collection of the smart wristband and retrieval of the mobile device.

Inbound travel in December

Decisions regarding inbound travel in December remain fluid, as the government is working with the two airlines “to establish the level of demand and quarantine arrangements required” for that month, the release noted.

Government continues to caution residents that travel should be limited to essential or medical needs only,” it said, adding that border decisions will continue to be evaluated and processes are subject to change.

To contact Travel Cayman, email [email protected] or call +1 (345) 743-8463 or 649-6913. Phone lines are open 8:30am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.

Quarantine-at-residence criteria

Travel Cayman pointed out that the choice of quarantine location is granted if the accommodation meets the following standards:

  • Access to running water and electricity.
  • Access to bathroom facilities that are in good working order and are not shared with others outside of the quarantining group, and provide a shower/bath, toilet and sink and a supply of hot and cold water.
  • Access to kitchen facilities that are not shared with anyone outside the quarantining group, with access to hot and cold water.
  • Adequate ventilation, with a window(s) that can be opened to allow fresh air to circulate.
  • Where there is air-conditioning, there is a self-contained air-handling system, which ensures that units do not circulate air to other residences.
  • Access to either kerbside pickup for garbage or a central garbage area.
  • Access for the delivery of foods and medications.
  • Access by the Mobile Compliance Team to conduct random checks over the period of quarantine.

Most property inspections are completed by the Mobile Compliance Team on behalf of the Medical Officer of Health, the release noted. In most cases, assessments can be made without entry to the property and, if access is required, property owners will be contacted for entry.

People who are neither Caymanians nor permanent residents and who do not have a private residence to quarantine in, or whose private residence is not approved, will need to book a private facility for quarantine.

Eligibility to enter

Flights to the Cayman Islands are repatriation flights only and at this time are not available to short-term vacationers, as anyone entering the islands are required to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine period, with a further COVID-19 PCR test on day 15.

Inbound travel is limited to:

  • Caymanians,
  • Permanent residents,
  • Work-permit holders and their families,
  • People who own residential property in the Cayman Islands,
  • Students with a valid visa to study in the Cayman Islands,
  • People with close family ties to residents or work-permit holders – spouses, fiancés, parents, grandparents and siblings.
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