Update, 3:45pm: Although British Airways has not cancelled any upcoming Cayman flights as of today (3 Oct.), the airline and Cayman officials are awaiting the outcome of a vote on UK lockdown regulations in the House of Commons Wednesday before confirming flights will go ahead, Cayman Islands officials have said.
Government Information Services, in response to queries from the Cayman Compass Tuesday, said the current recommendation is that travellers should continue to plan as if their flight is going ahead and not to change plans at this stage.
The Cayman UK Office will announce formal confirmation on the airbridge flights as soon as it is available from the UK government, GIS said.
Original story: Cayman’s UK office has said it is discussing with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office the possible impact new lockdown measures in Britain will have on British Airways air-bridge flights.
England is set to return into a lockdown from Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced over the weekend.
The restrictions, which bar anyone whose primary residence is the UK from travelling unless it is for essential travel, will be debated on Wednesday in Parliament.
The lockdown is set to commence across England on 5 Nov. and last at least until 2 Dec.
Following Johnson’s disclosure, questions have arisen about the implications of the new restrictions and what they would mean for those planning to travel to or return to Cayman, such as students heading home for Christmas break.
The Cayman Islands government, in response to queries from the Cayman Compass on the issue, said its office in the UK is in discussions with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office “to confirm whether Cayman British Airways flights will be impacted by new national lockdown measures coming into force in England this Thursday”.
The brief statement said that government will provide confirmation and more information as soon as updates are available.
While those discussions continue, government renewed its advice on travelling to and from Cayman.
“All international flights to and from the Cayman Islands are repatriation flights and non-essential travel is still strongly discouraged,” the statement said.
British Airways, which is the only authorised carrier to operate the London/Cayman route, acknowledged the lockdown announcement in a short message posted on its website.
“The latest UK government announcement may have caused uncertainty around your travel plans in November. If your flight is cancelled, please rest assured that we’ll contact you. We’re currently experiencing extremely high call volumes. Please don’t call or message unless you’re travelling in the next 72 hours so we can help those needing urgent rebooking,” the notice said.
While Cayman is on an exemption list for essential travel as an Overseas Territory, that list does not appear to have been updated since the new restrictions were announced.
Cayman Islands Representative Andre Ebanks, in a post on the Cayman Islands Government Office UK’s official Facebook page, urged all Caymanians in the UK “to take note of, and adhere to stricter COVID restrictions throughout the UK to protect health services and save lives. Please stay safe and remain vigilant.”
The post added, “We are aware that many Caymanians have questions about how this affects their upcoming flights to Cayman and we will be working closely with relevant entities to provide answers to your frequently asked questions.”
To date, Britain has reported 46,717 COVID-19 deaths – defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test.
A broader measure of those with COVID-19 on their death certificates puts the toll at 58,925.
Under the new lockdown measures, essential shops, schools and universities in England will remain open, but pubs and restaurants will be shut, except for selling takeaway food.
Outbound international travel is banned, except for essential reasons including work, and non-essential retail operations will be closed.