The Cayman Islands government is considering reducing the quarantine period for vaccinated travellers from 10 days to five days, and making it mandatory for work-permit holders to be inoculated against COVID-19.

Premier Wayne Panton, speaking on Radio Cayman’s ‘For the Record’ talk show Monday morning, said, “We are definitely considering reducing [the quarantine period] to five days. We should be able to give an indication in relation to that in the coming couple of weeks.”

The premier pointed out that the main barrier to reducing the quarantine time was the verification of a traveller’s vaccination status.

Vaccinations for work-permit holders

On the same show, Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan indicated that the government was also considering making vaccinations compulsory for all expat workers who are renewing their work permits or getting new ones.

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“I know other jurisdictions made it mandatory right away. We don’t feel the same way. We think once you are going up for renewal, we can make it a condition for your renewal or for a new work permit to make sure you are vaccinated,” he said.

He urged any work-permit holder on island who was not yet vaccinated to do so before the current supply expires next month.

Verifying vaccinations

While vaccination certificates issued locally by the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority could be verified, Panton said it was more difficult to deal with certificates issued overseas.

“The main issue in terms of reopening is trying to get clarification around how we accept or confirm and verify that somebody has been vaccinated. It’s a challenge the entire world has. It is surprising there has not been more movement in relation to that,” Panton said.

There is no single type of vaccination card that is being issued worldwide, or even within individual countries, like the United States, where the certificates vary from state to state.

Some airlines are developing apps or partnering with companies to create platforms that verify if a passenger has been vaccinated. Meanwhile, airline industry group International Air Transport Association has developed the IATA Travel Pass app, which is being tested by more than 30 airlines globally, including British Airways.

Cruise lines

In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has begun allowing cruise lines to carry out test cruises as it considers lifting no-sail orders issued last year which prevent ships from sailing until they can prove that cruises can be done safely.

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Panton said that his government had had discussions with one cruise line which indicated that it expected the CDC to lift its no-sail order by mid-to-late July.

“So, they were asking us about where we are [in terms of reopening the borders] and they wanted to indicate their position to us. They said they will have 100% of their staff vaccinated and projected that 98% of passengers would be vaccinated. How do you verify that?” Panton asked.

He said the same issue pertained to stayover tourism.

“That’s a challenge that needs to be addressed going forward,” he said.

Bryan said the cruise line in question was Carnival. “We’re trying to get more correspondence in terms of what their safety protocols will be, and how that lines up with our reopening talks and discussions.”

He said that while much of the focus on border reopening had been centred around stayover tourism, a large proportion of Cayman’s tourism industry involved the cruise lines, “and many Caymanian business owners depend on that”.

He acknowledged that the cruise lines posed a greater COVID-19 risk than stayover tourism, but said the government was in “constant communication with the industry and monitoring how they are going about their safety protocols”.

Vaccination supply

Panton also addressed Cayman’s vaccination stocks. The remaining supply of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines on island are set to expire at the end of June.

The premier said the UK would be sending additional vaccines to Cayman so the islands would have a continuous supply.

The government and tourism industry are currently in the middle of a vaccination drive in an effort to persuade those who have not yet been inoculated to get their first jab by 9 June, followed by the second shot three weeks later before the vaccines expire.

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  1. The rest of the world honors the CDC vaccination cards issued in the United States & UK, but again, Cayman knows something the world doesn’t… that there is a line of British & American frauds and counterfeiters who are looking to fly internationally to Grand Cayman to spend, on average, $20,000+ for a 7 day stay… go through all of the heavy-handed protocols, PCR testing and hazmat suits (sanitize 5 times in line) at the airport… when they can more easily and freely visit any one of 20+ Caribbean nations with less hassle and who trust them to act like adults?

    The current message this sends is internationally chilling and will be difficult to overcome in the media. Headline risk: “The Cayman Premier Does Not Trust Any Vaccination Cards Issued Outside The Cayman Islands”. Presuming the worst in people is not the way out of this. We have come too far to let fear-mongering keep us down.

    Then there is a suggestion that an “APP” could prove vaccination? Like no one has ever hacked into a common “APP”? Ridiculous. Kids can hack Apps. Walk this back immediately.

    Don’t wait 4 weeks like you did for not considering “mandatory work permit vaccination”. That was an easy one on May 5th… just don’t answer the reporter’s question when she asked it. Speculation and fear of mandatory vaccination for WP would have us at 70%+ already and not having to offer Whoppers & cash to get people to take the jab. This would be in the rear-view mirror.

    • Great points. Having a quarantine period for fully vaccinated travelers is just another way of saying you are not opening up. After you stay closed for 2 years straight, tourists find other islands to go to and don’t come back – certainly not at the same rate.

  2. I don’t judge. By now everyone understands how you get Covid and how you can avoid Covid. Everyone knows their own situation and can make their own personal risk assessment. If you want to get the shot(s). That’s up to you. If you don’t want to get the shot(s), then that should be your choice, too.

  3. I advised both CIG and the Compass last week that the NHS in the U.K. has a full vaccine passport on their NHS app, so people from the U.K. could be accepted right away.

    I’m wondering then what the purpose of the 5 day quarantine is if people have both vaccinations and a PCR test prior to flying? Feels arbitrary. Why not zero? Or 4? or 6? Etc.

    As a Caymanian living in London am keen to come home to visit, but tough to do with quarantines, though I understand the concerns of CIG, I truly do.

    • I commend Cayman for their efforts to keep their island safe during this time but at some point you need to reopen. Turks has been open for months. All you need to to show is that you tested negative in the prior 3 days of before arrival. Now Cayman is asking for a 5 day quarantine even if you have been vaccinated? Do you not trust that the vaccine works? What message does that send to those who are not sure about being vaccinated. After 25 years of visiting Cayman and enjoying everything your island has to offer its getting to the point that I’ll go elsewhere. I understand the government’s position of keeping people safe but at some point the child has to swim with out floaties. Countries have shown you can reopen safely. God Bless Cayman and all the wonderful people. J

  4. For a fully vaccinated traveler, who receives a negative PCR test prior to travel, why not zero quarantine? Let’s get life back to normal. We have given all our residents too much time to get vaccinated. If they haven’t, protecting their lives when they won’t protect their own, is not the responsibility of our society.

  5. Would a Government-stamped “proof-of-vaccination” in the passport be a feasible option?
    Probably just as vulnerable to the fraudsters, unless it has a Govt. traceable chip, perhaps?
    Frank S

  6. We waited for the vaccine. We have the vaccine and now that isn’t good enough. Next it will be all the children have to be vaccinated. And then it will be booster shot time; arguments over how to track that booster shot along with the vaccine, next a program for CV insurance will have to be put into place and some CIG department to manage that. Everyone squabbling about this virus while no one will look at the data – only listening to the fear mongers is acceptable.
    We all know when this will end – when the financial district is having staffing problems due to the travel restrictions. If people can’t freely come and go then they will go somewhere that they can. Then the construction sector will see a drop off in projects, real estate will start to decline in value and the golden goose will have laid the last egg. CIG will go to the bank for another loan and they will not be nearly so willing. Let us all hope that everyone will come to their senses before you see a sales tax, a property tax, an income tax….I pray it doesn’t come to that.

  7. We have been visiting Cayman for 30 years and now have a condo which was finished last year during Covid and we have yet to be able to see it! We are fully vaccinated and are going to visit Turks and may consider selling our condo in Cayman because this is past the point of ridiculous!

    • Robert:

      If you are a property owner then you can come.

      I realize that 10 days quarantine isn’t fun. However be assured it’s worth it. We regularly eat out and see friends with no need to flinch if they shake your hand or hug you.

      The reason for the quarantine is that the vaccine doesn’t prevent someone catching covid, it just keeps them out of the hospital. They could still transmit it to someone else, who may not be vaccinated for legitimate reasons and not just foolishness.

      • we do not get enough vacation time a year to quarantine for 10 days. The people who haven’t been vaccinated either need to get vaccinated or take the risk of getting covid. We have been 100% compliant and are suffering because of the slow gov’t policies and people who are not complying.

      • I am sorry but thats just ridiculous. Who has time for an 11 day quarantine for vacation? At 70% vaccination, forcing a vaccinated person to quarantine when you have reached near heard immunity levels is not based in evidence, but ignorance and fear. To that end, 30% of the population does not have a legitimate reason to not vaccinate, thats mathematical nonsense. The reality is the bulk of those who have not vaccinated have the ability to and choose not to, and life can’t end because people make an irresponsible choice. Pre-vaccine this all made sense, post-vaccine this is just arcane.

  8. I am a little bit perplexed at the Island’s lack of an evidence based approach here. It seems like its just conjuncture, fear, and dart boards making the decisions. I am all for keeping people safe, of course, but my goodness, you can’t shut down life indefinitely, especially in the face of evidence of how to reopen safely. When your entire economy is predicated on tourism, your goal has to be to return as close as possible to business as usual, not create a new usual.