Government plans to appeal the community-service sentences meted out to Skylar Mack and Vanjae Ramgeet following a quarantine breach that occurred last month, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson told Parliament Thursday.
The two were ordered to pay $2,600 each and complete 40 hours of community service after they pleaded guilty to failure to comply with isolation regulations. The court recommended, Mack, 18, not be allowed to return to Cayman while the borders remain closed following her planned departure on 22 Dec.
Manderson addressed the issue of quarantine breaches while speaking in Parliament, saying that such acts will not be accepted here.
“We continue to appeal to travellers to comply with the quarantine restrictions because, by doing so, they are helping to protect lives. At the same time, we give notice that breaches of the COVID-19 regulations will not be tolerated and we will seek to prosecute all confirmed violations.”
Mack, from the United States, was found at an event without the government issued-electronic geo-fencing bracelet which is mandated for arriving air passengers participating in the Quarantine at a Residence Programme. She broke quarantine to attend a water-sports event in which Ramgeet was competing. Ramgeet, 24, was said to have aided and abetted Mack in committing the offence.
Manderson, in reading his statement to the House, said while one breach is too many, it should be recognised that the vast majority of travellers do comply with our quarantine conditions.
“Since 1 October, there have been six cases associated with breaches of quarantine, two of which have been prosecuted and four of which are under investigation. By comparison, during that same period, over 3,500 persons have arrived on island, and of these, over 2,000 individuals received approval to quarantine at a residence. By far, the vast majority of these individuals have completed their quarantine without incident,” he said.
He noted that Cayman is not operating like a prison for incoming travellers, saying “we rely on [their] good character and good judgement”.
However, he added, “Of course, persons escape even from the most secure prisons.”
New security measures
Manderson also announced that Cayman Islands Community Emergency Response Team members have been enlisted to do compliance checks of people quarantining within their communities.
The additional support follows the recent breach of quarantine facilities.
Manderson said Travel Cayman accepted a proposal to use the CERT teams, which are usually deployed for disaster management. They’ll begin on Saturday checks on homes in their respective communities where people are quarantining.
This week, Travel Cayman announced that more security will be added at government-sponsored quarantine facilities after a person quarantining in one of those facilities left the premises.
Five additional security officers will monitor the exterior of premises, bringing the total number of officers providing 24-hour security to 16. The facility that was involved in the breach was not named; however, two local hotels, the Wyndham and the Holiday Inn, are currently being used as government-sponsored quarantine facilities.
Manderson said there are security details at the government facilities 24 hours day, with officers stationed on each floor where there are travellers and one on the outside of each exit.
“Approximately 11 security officers [are] on the property at all times. One RCIPS officer is on duty at the facility at all times,” he said.
Manderson said using the CERT teams engages people at the community level in supporting the delivery of welfare and compliance checks. This not only helps to address the resource needs for the isolation programme, he said, “but also enhances the sense of community and the sustainability of the CERTs.”
The deputy governor, in his statement, reiterated that the virus still rages in countries all around Cayman and keeping the islands safe is a main priority of the government, but it also requires a partnership with the public.
“While we are taking every precaution, guided by the science and supported by robust protocols and procedures, the truth is that we rely on travellers, as well as their friends and loved ones, to play their part by remaining in quarantine for the stipulated period, in order to keep the Cayman Islands safe,” Manderson added.