The UK government is expected to announce its revised travel lists on Thursday, according to British media reports.
Cayman was placed on an ‘amber’ list last month, meaning that anyone travelling from here to the UK is required to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival and undergo multiple PCR tests, despite Cayman having a higher vaccination rate and a much-lower COVID infection rate than Britain.
Premier Wayne Panton, speaking at a renewed vaccination drive at the Owen Roberts International Airport last month, said Cayman would push to be placed on the green list.
Under the so-called ‘traffic-light system’, which came into effect on 17 May, the UK government divided countries into green, amber and red categories, and stated that the lists would be reviewed every three weeks.
While this timeline may suggest that an announcement on revised lists would be made on Monday, 7 June, the UK’s Independent newspaper has reported that the review will occur on Thursday, 3 June, with any changes being implemented a week later, at 4am, on Thursday, 10 June.
Only 12 countries and jurisdictions are currently on the green list, including British Overseas Territories Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and Saint Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha. However, no destination in the Caribbean is on the list.
The rest of the green list is made up of Australia, Brunei, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal and Singapore.
Travellers from ‘amber’ jurisdictions, like Cayman, are required, prior to departure, to complete a passenger locator form, take a COVID-19 PCR test, and book and pay for two more COVID tests for day two and day eight after arrival. Upon arrival in the UK, they must quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for 10 days.
In response to Cayman being placed on the amber list last month, Governor Martyn Roper said given Cayman’s “excellent response” to the COVID-19 crisis, he was “hopeful that Cayman will move onto the green list at the review point”, and added that his office would remain in close contact with the UK as the list evolves.
Even if Cayman is placed on the green list on Thursday, travel to and from the UK is currently restricted to a single British Airways repatriation flight every two weeks. The Cayman Islands government has requested that two additional flights be added to the airline’s limited summer schedule.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, told reporters Wednesday that his government is “going to try to allow people to travel”. However, he added, “But we’ve got to be cautious and we’ve got to continue to put countries on the red list, on the amber list, when that is necessary.”
The ‘traffic-light’ lists are decided based on the percentage of a population that has been vaccinated, the rate of infection, the prevalence of COVID variants of concern, and access to genomic sequencing and reliable scientific data.
Cayman’s vaccination rate is higher than the UK’s, while its rate of COVID infection and prevalence of variants is far lower.
As of 1 June, the percentage of Cayman’s overall population – estimated to be 65,000 – that was fully vaccinated was 59%, or 38,025 people, while 68% had received at least one vaccine dose. This equates to 73.3% of the over-16 population being fully vaccinated, or 85% of that demographic receiving at least one dose.
According to UK government data, as of 1 June, 49.4% of its over-18 population had received both doses, while 75.2% of the adult population had received one dose.
There are currently 11 active cases of COVID-19 in Cayman – all involving travellers who remain in quarantine.