While the Cayman Islands is more relaxed now with social distancing, public gatherings and other COVID-19 protocols, public shelters are still exercising caution.
Current COVID-19 regulations limit the number of people that can gather indoors, although it is not clear if this applies to emergency shelters. As a precaution, Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee has recommended the regulations be changed to allow the current limit to be exceeded for emergency shelters if necessary.
The current recommended space allocation in shelters is 15 square feet per person, a guideline that aims to provide reasonable space for the total number of persons in each shelter.
Additionally, unless there is a change in the status of the Cayman Islands – which as of early June has no evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 – there are no mandatory requirements for face masks, hand sanitisers, gloves or physical-distancing protocols in most shelters.
As a precaution, however, personal protective equipment will be provided at all shelters.
QUARANTINE AND SELF-ISOLATING
If emergency shelters are activated in response to a threat or event, announcements will be made, and a hotline set up regarding specific sheltering locations and associated requirements for those self-isolating (tested positive for COVID-19) or in quarantine. This will include the provision of approved transportation for people in quarantine or self-isolation to a designated shelter if necessary due to the vulnerability of their location.
Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) and TravelTime work together to facilitate this eventuality. HMCI noted that past experiences in dealing with emergencies, such as landfill fires and emergency shelter activations during the 2020 hurricane season, have shown this mechanism works, especially for hazard events that are not rapid onset such as an earthquake or tsunami. TravelTime has access to between 30 and 50 taxis and buses that are approved to transport people in quarantine.
As Cayman enters the hurricane season, those applying for approval to stay in a location may be changed to include details about the perceived vulnerability of the location to hurricanes (such as coastal properties or single-storey dwellings in low-lying areas) and the anticipated need for sheltering if faced by a threat.
All persons in the Cayman Islands are encouraged to have an emergency supply of water and non-perishable food on hand, including those who plan to stay in an emergency shelter in the event of a storm or other disaster.
It is recommended to have one gallon of water per person per day and a supply of non-perishable food for three to seven days.
PLAN FOR PETS
People in quarantine who have pets are should have a contingency plan in place before the approach of a hurricane. Ask a friend or family member to take in your pet if a storm is approaching, as there is limited space for pets in public shelters.
HMCI notes that protocols for emergency shelters are subject to change based on the status of the Cayman Islands relating to the presence, or lack thereof, of COVID-19 cases in the community.