Opposition continues calls for cooperation despite chilly response

Premier previously rebuffed Opposition's offers to assist in COVID-19 and border reopening matters

Cayman’s opposition legislators have renewed their offer to assist Premier Wayne Panton and his administration as the country navigates the reemergence of COVID-19 on its shores.

This after Panton shut down their initial offer this week.

Opposition Leader Roy McTaggart and his deputy Joey Hew, speaking on Radio Cayman Wednesday morning, urged the premier to reconsider his position on the issue.

“We want to be positive, we want to be helpful and we want to assist the government,” McTaggart said.

Some issues, Hew said, should not be political.

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“The health and safety of our country is one of those and so I had hoped and I wished that at a minimum we would be given the same updates the government were given so we can offer our input at that stage, rather than having to come on the radio or waiting to hear from the government… prompting us to have our own press briefing which looks political, but we have no other choice,” Hew lamented.

Panton, speaking at Tuesday evening’s COVID-19 briefing, declined the Opposition’s offer which called for immediately instituting a National COVID-19 Emergency Council comprising all elected members of parliament.

The Premier said government is relying on the same health experts and their advice, which the previous administration also used to guide them through Cayman’s first brush with community spread.

“This is the same programme board that would have advised the previous government, now the Opposition. And just like they had confidence in [the health experts], we have confidence in them and we have confidence in our own government to be able to make decisions that are in the best interests of the country. Make no mistake, there there is no playbook for this,” Panton said.

He said reopening is much more difficult than locking down.

“It’s not easy. The easy part was probably locking down. The hardest part is trying to unlock and deal with these issues. I think the country can take confidence and comfort from the fact that we are well advised by a great internal and public health body, the same one that led us for the last 18 months and advised the government,” he said.

Hew acknowledged things are different now with a vaccine in play, but he said locking down was no easy task.
“He certainly was not in the room with us … the phone calls and abuse we received from certain sectors of the public,” he said.
Hew said Cayman is back in the same position it was in with community transmission where the government is challenged with one thing.. “that is reopening the country safely”.
McTaggart reminded that both he and Panton teamed up to share the message of vaccination.
He said he would like to do more of that partnership as Cayman navigates the road ahead.
“We’ve had more than a year’s experience dealing with it from the outset and we think we do have a lot more to contribute and I do hope that the premier may see it fit and different to change his stance… he said yesterday,” McTaggart said.


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