Government announced the reduction of the quarantine period to five days for incoming travellers who have completed an approved course of vaccination against COVID-19 that can be securely verified.
The quarantine period remains at 14 days for travellers who have not been vaccinated or cannot provide satisfactory proof of vaccination, Premier Wayne Panton said at a press conference on Wednesday.
The measure and further changes to the regulations will come into effect on 23 June.
Government will also reinstate the mandatory 72-hour pre-arrival PCR testing for the virus for all incoming travellers, but remove the tests on arrival. Testing remains in place for all travellers exiting quarantine.
“We also plan to require mandatory weekly PCR testing of unvaccinated frontline workers,” Panton said. “Those workers will be defined by the medical officer of health, and include all those who work directly with travellers.”
Panton said the government would present a border-reopening plan in the next weeks.
“Our plan is based on a number of people vaccinated so that the vulnerable in our community, who can’t get vaccinated, are protected. Once we do reopen our border, and we will, in our plan we will slowly reintroduce tourism without having thousands of people at the airport.”
He said, “We have too many examples of regional territories and countries who have tried and gotten it wrong. And the cost of that happening is worse than taking a bit longer to try to get it right.”
The reopening plan will depend on revised population figures. The Economics and Statistics Office now estimates that 71,100 people live in the Cayman Islands at this time.
This impacts the vaccination calculations.
Panton said the latest medical advice suggests a target ratio of 80% of the population may be necessary to achieve herd immunity.
On this basis another 17,000 people in Cayman would still need to be fully vaccinated.
Panton said there would be a much-better chance of achieving this target with the vaccination of 12 to 15 year olds and by making it mandatory for people seeking work-permit renewals to be fully vaccinated.
Based on the latest population estimates, 66% of the population have had at least one vaccine jab and 56% have had both. A new batch of 12,000 vaccine doses is expected to arrive today.
The phased reopening plan will look at the reintroduction of tourism by mid-September. This is in part impacted by the aim not to have the border reopening occur at the same time as the beginning of the school year.
Reopening to tourists during the slow season would also ensure that visitor numbers are manageable and allow for the collection of data to monitor COVID numbers and build capacity in preparation for high season, Panton said.
Ultimately the plan “will take into account increasing air traffic, different quarantines depending on the travellers and eventually getting to a stage of all clear – hopefully by the end of the year”, he added.
Governor Martyn Roper supported the government’s position saying the priority was to get “more jabs into people’s arms”.
He said the evidence of the effectiveness of vaccines against COVID-19, including the new Delta variant, was now well proven.
“Do come forward and take both jabs as soon as you can. It really is the best way to stay safe,” Roper said.
He added that opening up was a difficult and complex process and concurred with Panton’s analysis that almost every country that had reopened had been forced to take “backward steps”.
The governor said that diplomatic negotiations were continuing to get Cayman on the United Kingdom’s green list so people travelling from here to the UK could do so without quarantining.