Starting Thursday, Cayman will require a negative COVID-19 test from all travellers 72 hours prior to entry, a move that has triggered changes in travel plans for some and concern for others.
Master dive instructor Petro Kotze is among those rejigging travel plans in response to the new requirement that was announced by Premier Alden McLaughlin last week.
While Kotze understood and welcomed the change, she said it poses a challenge as she would have to source tests for herself and her wife Karen Perkins before they return to Cayman.
The couple had planned to travel to Mexico this month and were scheduled to return on 2 Feb.
“We had to postpone our flight back into Cayman until the 9th as it’s the first flight available back in… We were due to fly in from Cabo San Lucas… to Miami on 1 Feb. and then catch a flight back to Cayman. Now we are changing that,” she said.
Kotze said they have delayed their return leg by a week to ensure they get their tests sorted.
Although the flight change and additional stay comes at a cost, Kotze said it worked out as they will get to spend time with Perkins’ sister who is undergoing cancer treatment in West Virginia.
“We will have to get a test in Charlotte to go and visit her as well. So all those things are in the making, but that all came out of the (COVID pre-testing changes),” she said.
Kotze, however, said the change was needed. All of Cayman’s cases since the 1 Oct. soft opening have been from travellers in quarantine.
The last locally transmitted case, in October, involved a Red Bay Primary School student.
“[Pre-testing is] another step,” Kotze said. “We’ve been thinking a long time about what else to do to open up the country and we do need to open up a little bit more, but safely, and this is one of the steps that I think is very necessary.”
- UK-UKAS accredited laboratory or the National Health Service.
- JC (Joint Commission) or JCI (Joint Commission International) accredited laboratories
- ISO or COLA (Commission on Office/Laboratory Accreditation) accredited laboratories
- National Public Health Laboratories or other government-approved providers.
Last week, McLaughlin said Cabinet approved pre-testing, in response to the spread of new and more infectious variants of COVID-19 which have been found in 45 countries, including the UK, US and Denmark.
The UK announced this week that it will be requiring pre-testing for all travellers, including those from British Overseas Territories.
Cayman UK representative André Ebanks said his office is working with Caymanians and residents in the UK to assist with the new requirements.
“Thus far, though pre-flight testing adds to travel preparations, we have found travellers to be understanding of the rationale for new pre-flight testing requirements once they have up-to-date information.
“Therefore, to assist from the UK end, our office in partnership with our affiliate Cayman Connection has compiled and shared a link to a list of UK testing centres for ease of reference of returning Caymanians and residents and [the] link is available to the public via our website at www.cigouk.ky/negative-covid-test-required-before-entry-to-the-cayman-islands,” he said in his statement.
Caymanian Lisa Evans expressed concern that the new change will place her in a precarious position when she travels later this month.
“I fail to see the point in pre-testing if you have to quarantine anyway. Secondly, how can you deny a Caymanian entry to their country?” she said via Facebook messenger.
Evans said she has to travel to the US and believes the new requirement could leave her stranded in the States.
“It’s one more thing to do, and if I do test positive I’ll be stuck in the US,” she said.
For mom-of-two Izzy Gray-Pearce, the change in local travel requirements has made her move from the UK to Cayman a bit more chaotic than expected.
“My challenge was… I could get hold of only one of the testing centres in town where we live,” she said via Facebook messenger.
Getting the test results in time to catch her flight proved challenging but she eventually was able to arrange tests for her family at the centre closest to their UK home.
Saying it was “lucky” she was able to get that appointment, she added, “Mind you, my household [goods] get collected on the very same Monday [as the test results]… [so] if one of us test positive, we are doomed,” she said
Despite the logistical issues, Gray-Pearce said she understood the need for pre-testing, but it made their moving to Cayman all the more difficult.
She said she is hoping all goes well and the tests come back negative.
A positive test would result in losing the money already spent on the flight and the quarantine accommodation once in Cayman. “And considering the shipping company is collecting our belongings on 25 January, we might be left with nothing in the house,” she added.
Ebanks said his office has been receiving many enquiries about flights post-January between London and Cayman. The approved dates are yet to be released by Travel Cayman.
“Though BA may be accepting post-January bookings, I’d also like to reiterate post-January flights have not been authorised by Government as yet and making such bookings with any airline on a flight that has not been authorised by Government will likely result in change fees at the traveller’s expense. However, we hope to receive confirmation about future approved BA flight dates shortly,’’ Ebanks added.