Businesses shift gears to live with COVID-19

As COVID-19 community cases are becoming more widespread, local businesses are preparing to ‘coexist with the virus’ by aiming for an operational and mindset shift.

After the first cases of community transmission since last year were confirmed last month, a group of Caymanian business leaders from multiple industries have met to discuss how best to prepare their workforce and customers to learn to live with COVID-19, according to a press release.

Woody Foster

“Cayman has been in the fortunate position that, for more than a year, we were able to eliminate COVID from our shores,” said Woody Foster, managing director of Foster’s supermarket and a member of the private-sector group. “However, we always knew the day would come when elimination would no longer be possible.”

As a business owner, Foster said, it is his job now to adapt operating practices so that safety remains the top priority, and to demonstrate to employees and customers “how we can all still go about our daily business safely with COVID in our midst”.

He added, “As we have heard repeatedly, getting vaccinated remains our best defence against this virus – to protect ourselves, our families and the wider community.”

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To support the government and help the community prepare for this next phase of the pandemic, the group plans to launch a public-education campaign which highlights how “getting ready” can vary from person to person, and for different organisations, depending on the situation.

“We recognise and appreciate people have different perspectives and priorities,” said Foster. “Our intent is not to impose a single point of view, but to bring the community along with us on our journey toward readiness. The rest of the world is learning how to live with COVID, and I am confident we can too.”

Despite coming from a variety of industries, members of the group agree on the importance of reopening borders so both visitors and residents can travel more freely.

With border reopening currently on pause, public and private sectors have additional time to work together and ensure appropriate policies and procedures are in place for international travel to resume safely. Once borders reopen, the community’s readiness to safely coexist with the virus will be vital to protect lives and livelihoods, the group said.

Given the alignment with messaging shared previously by Reopen Cayman, a private sector initiative launched last year, the two groups have agreed to come together to launch a public-education campaign on Reopen Cayman social media channels.

“We were delighted to be approached by such a respected group of local business leaders and happy to offer our support,” said Kel Thompson of Century 21, who originally launched Reopen Cayman with fellow businessman Michael Tibbetts of Clearly Cayman.

“The negative impact of our borders remaining closed goes beyond the financial loss, it separates families and affects our mental wellbeing. As a community, it is essential we agree a path towards a safe and timely reopening of our borders,” he said.

Members of the private sector group supporting Reopen Cayman include:

Mark Anthony, Burger King and Popeyes
James Bergstrom, Ogier
Kris Bergstrom, Edgewater Group
James Bovell, RE/MAX
Dale Crighton, Crighton Properties Ltd.
Marcus Cumber, Lobster Pot
Woody Foster, Foster’s supermarket
Kim Lund, RE/MAX
Randy Merren, Hurley’s
Sophie Miles, Milestone Properties
Paul Pearson, Davenport Development
Gary Rutty
Michael Tibbetts, Clearly Cayman
Kel Thompson, Century 21
Ken Thompson, Island Taste
Mark VanDevelde, Dart

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