Opposition deputy leader Joey Hew says government will have to take a hard look at financial support for local businesses struggling to survive in the wake of Cayman’s continuing border closure.

“Our restaurants are hurting.. they are closing one by one. It’s been a very, very difficult period for them,” said Hew, while speaking on Cayman Crosstalk Thursday (23 Sept.).

His comment comes as popular hot spots like Rum Point close their doors indefinitely. The eatery announced it plans to close on 3 Oct., while Wharf Restaurant announced it would only be open to special events. Several others have closed since March 2020, when Cayman first introduced COVID-19 prevention measures.

Hew, who appeared on the radio show with Opposition Leader Roy McTaggart, lamented if government is going to continue to keep the borders closed, “We are going to have to look at some real stimulus support, financial support for medium and small businesses and, in particular, those who relied heavily on tourism industry like restaurants, hotels and Airbnbs.”

The George Town North MP said Cayman is now starting to see the real impact of the pandemic on small businesses.

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“The immediate impact was on those who were directly involved in tourism. What has happened now is that trickle down effect has happened where those who were on the fringe of supporting tourism, those who supported the businesses that were in tourism… they are now starting to feel the crunch and all of the support that they received over the last year is now drying up,” he said.

Watch the interview here: 

Government, he said, needs to introduce initiatives to help them keep afloat.

“Without a real reopening plan and without a fixed date we are going to stick to,  government is going to have to have a hard look at how they’re going to support these businesses financially,” he said.

Hew, who was the former commerce minister under the Progressives-led government, said initiatives like mortgages at a low interest rates, delaying payments were put in place to help take the load off.

Now, he said, that support is “drying up”.

“Some of the hope that they [small businesses] were holding onto and perhaps even the support they were getting from their lending institutions etc, thinking that there’s an opening, and an end to this is… it’s now starting to dwindle and people are really starting to struggle to keep their doors open and, in particular, our restaurants,” he said.

Finance Minister and Deputy Premier Chris Saunders, speaking at government’s COVID-19 briefing later on Thursday, shared that from a cash standpoint, “we (government) are in a very good position to weather the storm” and incentives to support businesses are being worked on.

He said in the last Finance Committee $4 million was approved to support businesses and Commerce Minister André Ebanks is working on criteria to assist restaurants, similar to the assistance provided to water sports operators.

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  1. ” … Cayman is now starting to see the real impact …”

    Where have these guys been? The real impact was over a year ago and unless you are in financial services has had a very large adverse effect.

    If the vast majority is already vax’d, its over, move on like the rest of world has

  2. “Starting” to feel the effect of no tourism??? Tourism industry has been decimated and we have shared with those who are actually IN government how staying closed over the November-to-March timeframe will prevent us from being able to support our (remaining) employees during the slow summer and hurricane season.

    We actually told them if they can’t open for Nov – Mar; don’t bother. We will all just shut down and terminate the remaining employees we have, right before the holidays and not incur the expenses.

    THAT is what is going on in the real (non-government) world. More unemployed = more shootings, assaults, violent crime, car accidents, DUI, mental health issues, foreclosures, homelessness and poverty…. but we can all remind ourselves how “wealthy” Cayman is when we see the “event only” restaurants in December fill with law firms, fund managers, insurance companies, etc celebrating their year’s bonuses at holiday parties….and guess who will be invited to attend? Premier and Cabinet…just like last year with Alden…with back-slaps and “attaboys” as well as an offer to buy them a drink at the bar for keeping it shut down. The rich get richer and the poor can eat cake if they can find it.

  3. My comment has little to do with the article but I can’t help but point out vacation rentals are not “Airbnbs.” Airbnb is an online travel agency (OTA) they do not own the properties rented through their website. OTA’s such as Air, Vrbo, TripAdvisor, Booking, etc., provide booking platforms where they charge owners and guests high fees to list on and book through their websites. None of these OTA’s own the properties and most have little regard for owners and guests. Guests attempting to connect with Vrbo or Air customer service most often speak with an outsourced representative who has never set foot in the property the guest rented or is interested in renting.

    For any of you wishing to book trips, to Cayman or other locations please consider searching for the property and booking direct with the owner rather than paying high fees to OTA’s. Many properties have a FaceBook page or a website. If you read the description of the property on the OTA there are likely clues on how to find the listing directly and avoid the high OTA service fees. As an example I recently had a guest inquire through Vrbo about booking a condo we own, the service fee Vrbo would have charged to the guest on a 3500.00 booking was 499.00. This fee is on top of the fee we already pay to list on the site.

    Just a sharing a bit of info in the hope some of you will be able to book trips and avoid the OTA service fees. Personally, I’d rather spend that 499.00 on my family than pay it to Vrbo just to click the “book” button.