CITA: Expanded vaccine list a ‘small step’ but not enough

Cayman Islands Tourism Association President Marc Langevin says that while the tourism industry welcomes the government’s expansion of the types of securely verifiable COVID-19 vaccination records it is now accepting, the process does not go far enough.

On Monday, the government announced that it was now accepting from incoming travellers SMART Health Cards from the US and records from European countries that meet the ‘EU Digital COVID Certificate’ standard which shows vaccination information. Travellers who present those documents can avail of a five-day quarantine upon arrival here, rather than the 10-day isolation for those with vaccination certificates from other places, or the 14-day quarantine for unvaccinated travellers.

Langevin said while expanding the list was a step in the right direction, it did not provide travellers or Cayman’s tourism businesses with any reassurance about how the government plans to proceed with accepting vaccination certificates from other locations.

“Not everyone who wants to come here is from Louisiana or California or got their vaccinations at Walmart, or Sam’s Club, or CVS,” Langevin said in an interview with the Compass on Tuesday. “What if they got it somewhere else? It is a small step, but we’re not seeing the total scope [of the government’s plan].”

Marc Langevin

He added, “It does not give us, or travel agents, a level of confidence of where we will be in the future. It is a small piece of the puzzle but we don’t see the whole game. Will there be another 10 states or organisations accepted next week? Who knows? We are left in the dark and trying to guess where we will be in September or October or later. We need more information so we can convey that information to our business partners – the travel agents, the meeting planners, our direct customers.”

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Since 23 June, for the purposes of the five-day quarantine, Cayman has only been accepting vaccination certificates or cards issued by the local Health Services Authority or the UK’s National Health Service. From Friday, 23 July, that list was expanded to:

  • Issuers who use SMART Health Cards and are a part of the CommonTrust Network. This includes North American issuers, such as:
    • Walmart Pharmacy
    • Sam’s Club Pharmacy
    • State of California
    • State of Louisiana
    • UC San Diego Health
    • CVS Health
    • UC Health
  • Vaccination records from the European Union Member States and other countries that meet the EU Digital COVID Certificate standard.

In a statement, the government said it anticipates that the approved list will grow as other vaccination issuers develop ways to produce securely verifiable vaccination records.

Currently, incoming travellers must obtain permission from Travel Cayman before they can fly to Cayman. Langevin has suggested that Cayman could use that avenue as a means of getting vaccination documentation verified before the passengers even get on the plane.

“Maybe we could create a system for Travel Cayman to do the validation of the certificates,” he said. “It happens in other destinations… you upload your certificate and they check it before you arrive and say if it is acceptable or not. So, basically, you’re reversing the process.

“Why not ask potential visitors to provide the vaccination documentation and see how you can validate it. … Everything should be done prior to arriving so that the experience is very painless.”

Concerns with government’s reopening plan

CITA has previously complained that it was not consulted by government in relation to Cayman’s reopening plan, which was announced by Premier Wayne Panton at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon earlier this month. In an interview with the Compass Tuesday, Langevin reiterated that he believes CITA’s expertise and knowledge could be of benefit to Cayman’s decision-makers when it comes to the timing of and procedures for allowing tourists to return to the islands.

“I understand there is a process for everything,” he said, “but at least, get us involved so we can share our views about getting to the next target, and how to make it easier for customers. Yes, there are a lot of logistics involved, but we’re not privy to the conversations that are going on. We’ve been working with government on the Caymanian employment drive and have made great progress, … but from a remobilisation and recovery point of view, we have not been consulted.”

Members of CITA will get to put their views and questions about the new list and the government’s border-reopening plan to officials at a meeting of the association’s membership on Thursday. Langevin said Panton, Deputy Premier Chris Saunders and Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan are expected to attend.

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  1. Caymanians should be ashamed of their “stay closed” plan.

    By the way, why the five day quarantine again?

    Approved vaccinated people can’t get a flight anyways so may as well put a fork in Caymanian tourism, it’s cooked for this holiday season.

  2. CVS, Walgreens, Sam’s, Walmart were among the last to get the Vaccine for distribution in the US. The state’s Public Health Care authorities and major Healthcare providers distributed the vaccine for months until summer.
    I wish this government would FOCUS on identifying a 3rd party service who will validate the vaccine white card for a modest fee with appropriate documentation.

  3. Why not just require a Covid Antibody test? If positive, then the person has either had Covid already or has gotten a vaccine. In either case the immunity is present. Since already requiring PCR test, the traveler can order both tests with the same sample.

  4. Agree Walmart and most drug stores in the US received vaccines last. I was vaccinated in a state run program, booked my appointment on a state health services website, shots administered at a state run facility, received a card and later an official certificate from the state. All this yet not good enough. So is state government information and records less reliable than a public retailer?

    I agree, with the comment of sending in documents when you apply to travel. My certificate is signed by the chief health officer and has a phone number and website to verify.

  5. Being the owner of a time share in our favorite vacation location, I’m so disappointed that this process is taking so long. I was vaccinated by a major health provider in the third largest city in Texas. Can’t believe that now I have to prove the validity of that in order to return to Cayman. Beginning to think we may never get back.

  6. Can you imagine having Marc Langevin’s job? CTA President, responsible for representing tourism, while working in the dark and not able to provide any input into the process. I feel sorry for him.

  7. Please stop being so selfish people. It’s really not all about you and your desire to vacation!!! Cayman is a small island and Premier Panton is doing his best to protect his people.

    If you desire to put pressure on individuals perhaps you could focus on those individuals residing on the island who are refusing to vaccinate. Reaching the 80% mark should be such a simple solution that would prove beneficial to everyone. Please focus your efforts on encouraging those unvaccinated individuals to step up and do what’s right for everyone’s sake.

    In the meantime, please leave the government officials alone and allow them to focus on the important work at hand.

    • Suzi R. you love to lambast everyone here yet you dont show any evidence that supports your argument that the government is handling this the right way. In fact the evidence supports the completely opposite. Secondly, its not about vacationing, we own property in Cayman and have close friends in the tourism industry who are losing homes, jobs, cars and other assets because of the failure of this government. Its very apparent you dont want to look at the science…why 80% why not 79% or 81%…it went from 70 to 80 all of a sudden? I would encourage you to start looking at how vaccines work and how virus’ work and the science that shows you could reopen safely. But if you dont want to look at that then by all means live in a bubble the rest of your life, its not the expat workers on island suffering its the actual CAYMANIANS that are suffering.

      • Brian H, what ‘bubble’ do you live in? Look at the stats in the US – Covid cases are spiking once again in 49 states! BVIs opened up to tourism then had to close once again. Bermuda experienced the same situation. How much more ‘proof’ do you need to see that when you relax protocols it doesn’t prove beneficial.

        People in the US have also lost jobs, homes, cars etc, the loss is world wide, not just in Cayman. Those losses however are not due to the government, they are due to the fact that there are still selfish individuals who put their own desires first and disrespect others by refusing to get vaccinated or wear a mask, much like the individuals who insist the Caymanian government open regardless of consequences.

  8. My wife and I were part of a 44 person business meeting planned for November 12-19 at the Westin. The National Association that organizes our events cancelled it and is trying to find another place to have our meeting. This is all because of the crazy re-opening plan that the government has put together. This is a huge disappointment to everyone.
    People that don’t get vaccinated do so at their own risk. Open up. Let the chips fall where they fall.

  9. What is too bad is I think we can start to see the writing on the wall and this government is doing everything in its power to delay reopening….doesn’t look very promising that Cayman will get to have a high season this year. Anyone else missing the thumbs up and down plugin? Sad that a feature their customers enjoyed gets taken away to avoid people seeing how much others think like them. 🙁

  10. You almost wish he would just unload on the CIG and their bubbling actions. The tourism industry has been put into a blender of plans, proposals, and ill timed press releases that have done nothing but sow confusion. While everyone is now arguing about verification of vaccinated travelers, the CIG reopening plan is proving to be exactly what CIG wanted – a series of trip wires which deflect the blame onto others and absolve themselves of any blame. Why are we not opening? The unvaccinated won’t get the jab – talk to them. And/or We can’t let in people where we can’t verify their vaccination records. And if you want to come or go from CI your luck better be good enough to win the lottery as the number of flights hasn’t been addressed either.
    Meanwhile – the tourist aren’t coming back and this is only affecting the CI citizens and PR’s. There will just be another issue to squabble about in the up coming months – good thing we have all been conditioned to wait. The CIG has taught us well.

  11. This is frustrating. We were vaccinated in the US but our provider is not part of the network they are requiring. The State of Florida is not doing Covid passports and has passed a law in that regard. My vaccination is registered in the floridaSHOTS system, which all immunizations done in the state of Fl are required to be registered by the provider to this Dpt of Fl Health System. I can request a email document to be sent to whoever is needing verification from them but because they do not put QR code’s CI gov/HSA will not accept that as verified even though it is the database used by institutions, schools etc to verify proper immunizations. This is frustrating for the ones that have done what they needed to do but are being penalized because of fear. There should be a way to send your documentation, HSA verifies it through the system in place wherever you received your vaccination and then be able to issue you a letter stating you are verified to be vaccinated. Another thought, are they even counting the vaccinated permanent residents or Caymanians that were vaccinated in their % to open or is it just the ones that are vaccinated here?

  12. Unfortunately the CIG has dug in with their numbers and phases. They fiddle around the edges but it doesn’t change the outcome. It will all happen on their schedule no matter what. I will bet the farm that you will be deep into next year before there is any reprieve for the tourism industry.

  13. We were vaccinated early in US at our regional hospital and health department. Unfortunately, our provider is not on the ridiculously restrictive CIG list of acceptable vaccine providers – -while the UK will now permit anyone vaccinated anywhere in US. We have been bringing our family to Cayman for 20 years and purchased property 5 years ago, but have now lost 2 years of precious plans for staying in our Cayman home. I have to agree with David C. and Dana B. – the CIG has no intent to reasonably welcome visitors any time soon and don’t appear to appreciate visitors. Sadly we are considering exploring other options for our retirement home.

  14. Our beautiful condo on Seven Mile Beach is empty and our boat hasn’t been used in over a year. We have been paying locally for all this to be taken care of for the last 18 months of lockdown.
    Thankfully, our family of 10 were welcomed to Grand Turk in July with a negative PCR test and getting permission from the Govt. No COVID on this island and 70 % vaccinated. Beautiful 5 bedroom 5 bathroom home on the beach for $1,000 night. Diving companies leave from beach in front of home and locals were very welcoming. Cayman needs to open up. We have tickets to Cayman for mid Sept but they won’t accept our vaccines.