On the frontline: Everyday Heroes

Michelle Biase,

Those in the service industry found themselves on a rollercoaster ride, with ever-changing regulations taking them from reduced numbers of in-house diners to just delivery being allowed.

When restrictions first loosened, only outdoor dining with social distancing was possible and, until recently, all serving staff had to wear masks even when guests seated at tables were not required to do so.

Michelle Biase, who works at Craft, found each day to be unpredictable.

“It was a very unique experience to watch how everyone came together as a team,” she says. “Everyone had to make sacrifices during the lockdown, but we came out stronger than ever.

“The hardest part for me was having to wear a mask at work. It was very difficult to have to talk constantly while wearing one.”

She felt that Craft handled the situation well, abiding by all the guidelines and taking extra precautions regarding the safety of staff and patrons. When seeing how many other countries are faring, Biase is grateful for the position that Cayman is presently in and appreciates the sense of normality.


Calasia Burke,

There is no question that particular pressure was put on the police service in the extraordinary circumstances that unfolded this year.

With masks, social distancing and other protocols needing to be enforced to keep residents safe, officers kept a high profile on the streets and around public places such as supermarkets
and banks.

Community Police Officer Calasia Burke, whose beat includes the Seven Mile area and Esterley Tibbetts Highway, got to know her neighbourhoods well throughout lockdown, as she was one of many officers distributing masks door-to-door.

“That was a happy part of my job,” Burke says. “Seeing people’s reactions when I dropped off masks to them – they were really grateful. It was nice to see.”

She was impressed with the community’s willingness to follow the rules, saying that she found at least 95% of those she encountered were cooperating and compliant.

The most unexpected challenge of the job at that time, it turns out, was being able to get food late at night. Restaurants reduced their hours due to curfews with only takeout/delivery options allowed. Supermarkets and gas stations also closed early.

“There was nowhere to get food after a certain hour – that was my biggest challenge,” she says. “When I had shift work, I had to plan meals and pack them in advance to take along.”


Klyra Meer Estrella,

The demand on supermarkets was almost overwhelming in the early days of lockdown. With the public panic-buying in droves, it was all staff could do to get the shelves restocked in time for the next wave of shoppers entering the doors.

Eventually, the major markets on the island placed restrictions on the numbers of individual items that could be bought at a time, to curb the stockpiling until the situation calmed down.

Klyra Estrella works at Camana Bay Foster’s, and was part of the team getting through these challenges
and more.

She says wearing a face mask while working all day was exhausting, and her hands became very dry from constantly using hand-sanitiser, but she also understood that they had a job to do in order to
help others.

She was also concerned about the interaction with people and risk of infection, but her fears of catching the virus were assuaged by Foster’s response to
the situation.

“Foster’s handled the situation really [well],” Estrella says, adding that the plexiglass installed around each cash register, for example, ensured that the staff were kept safe.

Despite the physical and emotional strain, Estrella feels she has emerged stronger.

“I have been able to explore my own capabilities,” she said. “[I’ve embraced] my strengths and weaknesses. [I’ve been able to] provide help despite this virus, and still managed to keep a smile on my face.”

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