If the Cayman Islands is to hit its 80% vaccination target for the border reopening, government will have to move to mandatory vaccinations and not just for work permit-holders, Cayman Islands Tourism Association President Marc Langevin has said.

Langevin, speaking on the 21 July episode of the Cayman Compass weekly Facebook talkshow ‘The Resh Hour’, said the tourism industry has welcomed the announcement of a border reopening plan, but lamented that it still hinges on hitting a vaccination target of 80% of the entire population.

The CITA president said he believes Cayman cannot realistically achieve that without mandating people get the jab, and he is suggesting government seriously consider this approach.

Marc Langevin – General Manager, The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman and Cayman Islands Tourism Association President.

“If the government is really keen about achieving that 80%, which would be 95% or 99% of the [eligible] population, it is going to have to come with some additional regulations, to potentially be mandatory or compulsory for people working in the industry, not just a work permit, but if you’re working at the airport, in immigration, at the hospital, and so on,” Langevin said.

Government is yet to formally announce a policy on mandatory vaccinations for work permit renewals, which was previously alluded to by Premier Wayne Panton.

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Other initiatives needed

While Langevin said cash prize incentives had seemed to move the vaccination needle in the right direction, he suggested that government should also consider implementing steps undertaken in Europe to move it further.

As an added push, some European governments are only permitting access to certain activities or venues to vaccinated individuals. This, he said, in part, prompted his own parents to get vaccinated.

Already, Cayman has an example of this with both Cayman Pride and CayMAS, which were granted approval to hold their respective parades with only vaccinated participants allowed.
As of 20 July, there have been 96,331 COVID-19 vaccinations given in total in the Cayman Islands. Of these, 49,403 or 69% of an estimated 71,106 population, had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 46,928 or 66% have completed the two-dose course.

We cannot just hope that we are going to trust people, or they are going to do the right thing. I think we are way beyond that. – CITA president Marc Langevin

Langevin said he is on board with the 80% target, if it comes with some other component, because that is the caveat for entry into the next part of the reopening plan, “and if you do not have that, we do not have the rest of it”.

“There is a point where, until it impacts people’s lives, they are not feeling concerned by that. I think, if the government is not budging on that 80%, it is going to have to come with some additional, maybe not popular [decisions],” he said, adding that it is difficult to find something that everybody can agree on.

People, he said, are going to have to make a choice to be vaccinated or be tested “every two hours, or every two days, or whatever the case may be”, as an alternative.

“We cannot just hope that we are going to trust people, or they are going to do the right thing. I think we are way beyond that. We can see the level of vaccination [and] the way it is happening right now… the slowdown, and it is despite all those marketing efforts, communication efforts. I think everybody in the government has done their best to clearly call on their constituents. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Opposition or the government in place,” he said.

Everyone is trying, he added, but at some point, it has to become a personal decision that will not be made unless “there is a carrot [and] a stick to make that happen”.

Langevin said most of the tourism industry is almost fully vaccinated and government has to look to the other industries.

“Because not everybody has the same incentive. A lot of our employees know that it’s a condition of potentially working in the future, but we know that the other industries are not impacted by the shutdown of the tourism. Therefore [there’s a] ‘what’s in it for me? [mentality]’,” he said.

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  1. 95% of the (eligible) population is not an (attainable) “goal”…it is just a wish…a dream…a fiction; unless vaccination is mandatory. Even if mandatory, “exclusions and exceptions” may not get the country to 95%. It is a laudable, but unattainable wish. Time has come to not let those without vaccine dictate the lives of those who stepped forward for protection. OPEN THE BORDERS AT 80% OF ELIGIBLE (if that can even be defined) POPULATION (the most at-risk have been vaccinated).

    Don’t forget, there are TWO unattainable wishes that CIG made prerequisite to reopen:

    1- 80% of the (arbitrarily increased) domestic population, despite that 11-yr olds and younger cannot be vaccinated = over 95 % of the “eligible” population must be vaccinated.

    2- That the original paper tourist vaccination card received at inoculation is insufficient proof of vaccination to Dr. Lee and the Premier (even though all 7 of the G7 countries- USA, Canada, UK, Germany, EU, Italy & France…all accept original paper vaccination cards for entry and quarantine exemption).

    Currently; even the Cayman-administered jab cannot be uploaded to the UK HSA App the CIG wants to use to produce a QR code for entry to Cayman.

    The UK App is only for vaccinations received in ENGLAND… not Wales, Scotland or any other UK territory or protectorate (currently). Dr. Lee says that the programming development for Cayman vaccinations “may take a couple of months”… and he is now silent to his proposed Smart Health Card ( Digital Vaccine Passport linked to Common Pass) in the USA; as that program is not federally verifiable. Raise the fines & jail time; but honor the original paper vaccine card until technology can catch up and produce a digitally-verifiable QR code.

  2. I feel bad for Langevin as he is trying to point out how stupid and insane the Cayman “reopening” plan is without getting the govt. angry at him.

    Honestly, my wife and I thought that Cayman would do better. Sadly we were wrong and will just spend our tourist dollars elsewhere.

    • I agree with you on both of your points. It was striking to with Langevin struggle to show how stupid some parts of the plan are while walking the line of not getting anyone mad at him from the CIG.
      He did make an excellent point that was not followed up on….why did the CIG not include the tourism industry expects (along with other subject matter experts) to have many different minds/perspectives weigh in on the problem? But then the CIG expects everyone to fall in line with the planning done in a silo.
      I like you will spend my tourism dollars elsewhere.

  3. I know many otherwise very sensible people who have refused to be vaccinated. One believes it is unnecessary because ivermectin is a wonder drug that is “proven ” to cure it. However the international drug companies have supposedly opposed its use for business reasons.
    I don’t think forced vaccination is acceptable.
    At a certain point we will have to open our borders and the anti-vaxxers will have to take their chances.

  4. So sad that our vaccinated group will not see Cayman again this year. The trip we booked in January, 2020 (for an August visit) was obviously cancelled and we really thought getting vaccinated would allow us to visit this year. We’ll be diving in Florida shortly but it won’t be the same as Cayman. Seems like a lot of people whose livelihoods depend on their tourism jobs are being held hostage by those who won’t get vaccinated. Really wish CIG would realize that. I’ve been a regular visitor since 1985 and I really look forward to those 10 or so days a year I can truly relax. Maybe it’s time to let those who won’t get vaccinated to just be open to the risks.