Premier Wayne Panton says the Cayman Islands plans to push the United Kingdom to add the islands to its green travel list, which comes into effect on 17 May.
Cayman was excluded from the list of 12 countries and jurisdictions, including four British Overseas Territories, from which travellers flying into England will not be required to quarantine.
Speaking at a vaccination drive at Owen Roberts International Airport on Saturday, Panton told the Cayman Compass it was disappointing that Cayman remained on the amber list and had not been upgraded to the green list.
He said it was “regrettable that the UK haven’t reflected the fact that we’re probably the poster child for success amongst the UK in its entirety, including all of its territories; we should probably add in Gibraltar there … because they have been excellent as well. But, I think, the overall track record that Cayman has had … is not matched anywhere else.
“There is an opportunity three to four weeks from now to have it reviewed and we’re obviously going to push very heavily to have our track record and our performance reflected in the UK’s decisions as to whether we’re amber or green. And obviously we’re not going to be satisfied unless it’s green.”
The countries included on the green list are Australia, Brunei, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal and Singapore, as well as the Overseas Territories of Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and Saint Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha.
The British Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, announced details of the UK’s ‘traffic light’ system of green, amber and red destinations last week. The categories will be updated every three weeks.
Shapps said one of the deciding factors on which countries were excluded from the green was vaccination rates.
This explanation caused surprise among some in Cayman last week, because as of the day of the announcement, 62.2% of Cayman’s adult population had received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 31.8% of the UK’s adult population.
According to Our World in Data, which is tracking global vaccination rates, the population of Gibraltar is considered to be fully vaccinated. In fact, statistics show enough vaccinations have been administered to cover nearly 115% of its population, but that is because cross-border workers from Spain have also received their vaccinations there.
Last week, Governor Martyn Roper, reacting to the news that Cayman would remain on the amber list, which still requires a 10-day quarantine period, said, “Given Cayman’s excellent response to the Covid-19 crisis I am hopeful that Cayman will move onto the green list at the review point. My office will remain in close contact with the UK as the list evolves.”
No countries in the Caribbean were included on the green list.
Panton said he understood that the UK authorities were “looking, unfortunately, at the entire Caribbean as a whole, and there are not any direct flights from Cayman to the UK. If that was the case, perhaps their approach might have been different.”
Recently, however, British Airways repatriation flights, which depart every two weeks, have been flying directly to the UK. Commercial flights prior to the COVID-19 crisis included a stop in Nassau, Bahamas. The next BA flight scheduled on the Grand Cayman-Heathrow route is a direct flight on 20 May.