Deputy Premier Chris Saunders has said the reopening of local borders could be possible from November, as he reiterated government’s position is to revisit the amended end-of-year timeline, as it works to contain local COVID cases.

“For about 18 months now, people have been in a kind of lockdown state. We’ve been in a bubble for a good portion of it also and it’s time for Cayman to rejoin the global community,” Saunders said on the 29 Sept. episode of the Cayman Compass talk show ‘The Resh Hour’.

However, the caveat to November, he added, was government will be guided by the medical experts.

Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Chris Saunders

“I think it is not a far out date to consider, based on progress that we’re seeing,” he added.

One area that Saunders said has given him confidence that opening before the end of the year is possible is that, unlike last year, Cayman has vaccinated people.

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“We’re now in a more resilient position, and I’ll be the first to say that I would very much love for us to… reopen as quickly as possible.”

Vaccinations trending upward

Saunders said with the uptick in vaccinations continuing since the George Town Primary School outbreak, achieving the goal of getting 80% of the eligible population vaccinated is moving closer.

“One of the good things that came out of the recent incident we had at George Town Primary… it gave us a chance to actually test those resources in terms of how they are able to respond,” he said.

This, he said, is one of the major things that government has to consider before reopening – the state of Cayman’s medical resources or medical facilities and their ability to respond if there is an issue.

Two other areas of consideration, as pointed out by Public Health England, he said, were the local vaccination rate and the vaccination rate of Cayman’s source markets like the US and Jamaica.

He said based on the trends, he thinks Cayman should be able to hit the 80% target by November.

“At least that will give us some level of comfort with regards to vaccination,” he said.

As of 30 Sept., 73% of the estimated population of 71,106 were fully vaccinated, while 55,174 people (78%) had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

LIVE: The Resh Hour

LIVE: The Resh HourDeputy Premier Chris Saunders joins host Reshma Ragoonath live for the 29 Sept. episode of the Resh Hour, where we'll talk Cayman's finances, tourism and COVID-19.

Posted by Cayman Compass on Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Getting over fear is key

Saunders said the government is cognisant of mental health issues affecting those within the tourism sector and parents whose children are abroad and may not be able to come home for Christmas.

“We also need to recognise that people need a sense of purpose, and many people found their purpose in their occupation, in their jobs, getting up and having a nine to five,” he said.

Cayman, he said, has to move away from the fear of COVID and he believes that is happening.

“We understand your fears, we understand your concern because we have seen what COVID has done in many other countries. But thus far, as you can see, since the local transmissions have started our ‘kung fu’ is actually much stronger than people give us credit for… So I think we’re in a much better place now,” Saunders said.

He said already he is seeing the public moving away from “freaking out” like they were when the first outbreak was reported, to being more accepting of the reality, and “we’re seeing people getting ready to rejoin the global community”.

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  1. Why this obsession with exactly 80%, if we get to within one, will that prospective person hold the whole country to ransom?. We are almost there and the target is nebulous anyway due to uncertainty on the population count. Time we stopped using this excuse for prevarication and get on with opening the borders.

  2. Cayman will never reopen regardless of 80% vaccines, until the requirement for the smart health QC Code is dropped. Over 90 % of Americans coming to Cayman have the vaccine. But less that 10% have the proof in a QC digital code and can not get it.
    To make things more difficult, if ONE person in the group does not have the Smart Health QC proof of vaccine, the entire group must quarantine.
    People are vacationing elsewhere and some will never come back.

  3. you cannot vacillate like this and expect anyone to prepare properly or rebound with any efficacy. all of our prospective guests canceled their stays thru the end of this year and found somewhere else to vacation when you ‘paused’ the reopening. you are causing detriment to people’s lives as insidiously as covid has.

  4. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    November? November when? Nov. 1 or Nov. 30? Big difference. He didn’t say. If it’s Nov. 30 to late to make plans and to late for airlines to schedule flights.

    “SHOULD” be at 80% by Nov. How many times have they said that. It took almost 3 weeks to for the vaccinate rate to go up 1%. They still have 7% to go.

    This is so it just “LOOKS” like they have a plan. People – don’t get your hopes up yet.

  5. What about children and babies who are not being given the opportunity to have the vaccine?
    Parents who have been vacinated will not need to quarantine but what about families with children? PCR test 72 hours before departure and test again on arrival. Being vaccinated doesn’t stop the spread of covid it reduces the seriousness of the condition.

  6. Maybe the hotels should think about staffing.
    Maybe additional airlines can start flying in.
    Maybe dive companies should take bookings.

    Etc, etc, etc….

    Too many maybes.

    It’s time for an experienced , decisive educated government to take over lay down a plan and stick to it. This current chaotic state is unacceptable.

    After the previous announcement to maybe move the opening to the New Year (maybe early in the new year or maybe at the end of 22 ) I’m afraid most if not all of the trips booked to Cayman have already been canceled. Let’s not forget that group business is usually booked 2 to 3 years in advance. At this rate of indecisiveness it will take us 6 to 8 years to recover fully. So maybe in 2030 we will be somewhat “normal”


  7. The possibility of the border opening without quarantine, NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. CIG is dangling the carrot and the same thing will happen that has happened, every single time…quarantine will stay or end up being extended to 14 days. To hell with kids trying to come home for the holidays. CIG doesn’t care.

    IF, and it’s a very big IF, the border were to reopen without quarantine there WII NOT be thousands of people flocking to these shores. The “securely verifiable vaccine” proof will prevent the majority of visitors from making the trip.

    In November the US will require proof of vaccine and a negative covid test before returning from trips abroad and this is another burden on travelers. Cayman’s lack of rapid covid testing will cause people to rethink the possibility of a trip here because PCR tests take too long to process and are too sensitive.

    And in closing, as many others have said and continue to say, Covid IS NOT going away. If PACT’s plan is to eradicate Covid from the community and return to a zero Covid tolerance plan then they need to lock down the island, stop all flights in and out and find a way to live completely and totally off of local resources. This is not realistic thus learning to live with covid is the only option. Some don’t like that idea but it doesn’t change the fact that we are not waking up one day to the news that Covid magically vanished from the face of the earth overnight. We either come to grips with Covid in the community, use REASONABLE, options to limit the spread, and move forward with life or we continue stuck right where we are for a very long time.

  8. American Airlines is calling customers informing them they are canceling flights in January and February. I just got my call today saying they are pulling flights due to “continued uncertainty”. I am beyond frustrated with this government.

  9. If you believe this guy I have a bridge in the Arctic to sell you. Let’s be frank – this government is as distrustful as they are incompetent. That is to say, they are completely feckless and paralyzed by fear. He claims their plans will be guided by medicine, but the medical community overwhelmingly believes it is well past time to open; that the island is as prepared and equipped as possible and that the benefits of isolation no longer outweigh the consequences. So to hide behind the medical community to justify their senseless, incompetent, and fear-based decisions is infuriating.

    Cayman should install a competent, experienced government to solve this crisis of Cayman’s own making. This government is far beyond their depth.

    • to add to that, it is rich he would lecture the community about fear, when the most fearful are the people making the decisions, not the public at large. The government needs to get over their fear and step up, now.

  10. The absolute only way that anyone from the United States can get to Grand Cayman, and be assured they will have a flight, is by paying for a private jet!! How many Americans, even owners of condos who come to the island for at least 2-3 months can afford that cost if traveling from far upper Midwest??