Wednesday, 9 September 2020 COVID 19 Update

  • Of 84 PCR tests since Tuesday, two are positives, both are travellers in isolation.
  • So far, 36,347 PCR tests have been carried out.
  • Borders will open as planned in phases with limits on number and categories of entrants. Phase 1 will start on 1 October.
  • The minimum quarantine period will remain at 14 days with a negative PCR test on day 15.
  • Only Cayman Airways and British Airways are commercial airlines allowed to fly repatriation flights into and out of the Cayman Islands. Private aircraft are also allowed to fly in provided they have the necessary permissions and follow all Government established protocols.
  • The CI Centre for Business Development that opened officially last week will be able to house 12 start-ups free of charge for a period of two years.
  • Of 1,528 requests received so far in Phase I of the micro and small business grant programme, grants valued at $3.468 million have been approved.
  • For the small business low interest loan programme, loans totally $695,000 have been granted.  

Grand Cayman (GIS) – Cayman Islands’ leaders emphasised that the planned return of arriving visitors will continue in phases, with the first phase for longer term visitors, who have either second homes or have access to homes in Cayman, commencing on 1 October 2020.

The leaders also underscored the need to maintain vigilance including wearing of masks, practising social distancing and frequent washing of hands, especially when among the vulnerable.

            Prayer was led by Pastor Martin Royer.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee reported:

  • Out of 84 test results today, two were positive, both of whom have travel history.
  • Of a total of 207 positives so far204 have recovered.
  • There are 282 individuals at government- run isolation facilities and 42 in home isolation.
  • There were six calls to the ‘flu hotline with two related to ‘flulike symptoms.
  • A total of 2,516 anti-body tests have been done, comprising 3.9% of the population, of which 61 were positives, 37 whom were positive on previous PCR tests, six were contacts with previous positives, eight had travel history and 10 had no travel history.
  • Ten days ago, there was one positive in the community, which on further confirmatory testing as recommended by Public Health England returned negative results.  However the person and their contacts were isolated in the interests of caution and have subsequently had a negative test several days later.
  • The world situation of prevalence is worrying, notably the US and also regionally among some such as Jamaica and Turks and Caicos.
  • Based on prevalence of COVID-19 per 100,000 of population, Cayman’s position is at 166. Barbados’ is 126 and Bermuda is at 148, both of which have opened borders with strong management of incoming visitors.

Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:

  • The phased opening which starts 1 October pertains only to air arrivals on Cayman Airways repatriation flights or the BA air-bridge flights between London and Grand Cayman. Ports remain closed to cruise ships for the remainder of 2020.
  • A trial programme will begin involving 20-25 households arriving on the BA flight on 17 September to help better manage the broader opening of a pilot programme scheduled for 1 October.
  • Those selected to participate in the 17 September programme will have to wear a location monitoring device, quarantine for a minimum of 14 days, undergo testing upon arrival and again on day 15.
  • For the 1 October pilot programme, Government has set a target of 800 travellers for October. The phased opening is only for Cayman Airways repatriation flights, fortnightly BA flights and approved private charter flights; not for commercial flights.
  • Categories of people will extend beyond Caymanians, permanent residents, work permit holders and their families to also include persons who own property in the Cayman Islands as well as persons looking to live and work from here for an extended period of time, and other approved visitors.
  • The tourism industry stipend provided to Caymanians is being extended for a further three months – from October to December. All those who currently receive a stipend do not have to reapply – their stipends will automatically continue. From 14 September, the registration period will be reopened for those who currently do not receive a stipend but who qualify as per the established criteria.
  • The two-day tourism Open House organised by the Ministry of Tourism and WORC along with a wide range of tourism partners that ended today provided Caymanians an opportunity to reskill or prepare for jobs in the future as “qualified and desirable” tourism employees.
  • For all details from the Premier, see sidebar.

His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:

  • Allowing the option of home isolation for 14 days with additional safeguards is a sensible evolution in COVID-19 risk mitigation.
  • The two positive cases today after four weeks of negatives is disappointing but underlines the need for everyone to stay alert. “And conducting over 36,000 tests is something to be very proud of and gives us confidence.”
  • BA flights can be booked directly. Everyone needs permission from TravelTime to travel on inbound flights. BA will run directly to Grand Cayman until the end of November.
  • Civil servants have returned to operate physically from the workplace, the default way of working once again.
  • A Civil Service Programme Board, headed by the Deputy Governor, has been established and is now working to support the Deputy Premier and the phased reopening of the borders.
  • The UK remains in the forefront of vaccine research and international coordination, a matter of importance for the Overseas Territories that are to be supplied vaccines, when available, by the UK.
  • For more from the Governor, see sidebar.

Minister for Commerce, Hon. Joseph Hew said:

  • The CI Centre for Business Development that officially opened last week is helping small business viability through advocacy, business counselling, training and increased access to finance. It includes a residential business incubator that will house up to 12 start-ups for a period of two years, free of charge to them.
  • To temporarily reduce the amount of fees incurred by businesses, Cabinet has waived liquor licensing fees in the Sister Islands for September 2020 and on Grand Cayman, to enable a similar arrangement, waiver of liquor licensing fees for September 2021 for licence holders who paid fees for 2020 as on 31 August.
  • Music and Dancing licence holders are reminded that the maximum limit allowed whether indoors or at outdoor events is 250 persons.
  • He encouraged all to avail of the online services of the Department of Vehicle and Drivers Licensing. This would make attendance at the currently congested West Bay branch unnecessary.
  • With schools and offices back, traffic congestion is higher and road expansions are underway at some key locations including between the Chrissie Tomlinson Roundabout and the Hurleys Roundabout on Shamrock Road as well as from the new connector road from the CIS Roundabout directly to the airport which will further ease the congestion at the Butterfield Roundabout.
  • For more from Minister Hew, see sidebar.

Health Minister Hon. Dwayne Seymour said:

  • COVID testing clinic has moved to the old physio section on the HSA campus. Appointments should be booked online.
  • Plans are going well for the 11th annual Healthcare Conference that helps provide continuing medical education for medical professionals. The conference is scheduled to open on 17 October as a virtual event, for which registration will open next week.
  • MRCU continues to diligently do battle with the existing biting population of mosquitoes across Grand Cayman. Mosquito breeding has been found in several locations on the West Bay Peninsula and aerial larviciding operations will commence to control these mosquitoes before they emerge as biting adult mosquitoes.
  • Thursday is World Suicide Prevention Day, to raise awareness for suicide prevention.

Sidebar: Premier Elaborates on Border Reopening Phases

The Cayman Islands is rated as ‘COVID- free’, a status that has been hard won through adapting our ways of living and making tremendous sacrifices for the greater good.

Protecting lives and enhancing public safety has been a government priority since the onset of the pandemic, and this has continued to be a key focus in all of the deliberations and plans being formalized to facilitate the reopening of our borders.

I would like to emphasise that the phased opening which commences on 1st October only pertains to air arrivals on Cayman Airways repatriation flights or the BA Air- bridge flights between London and Grand Cayman.  Our ports will remain closed to cruise ships for the remainder of this year.

During the month of September, there will be no change in the current arrangements for approved travel to the Cayman Islands, except to trial some aspects of the new arrangements we have planned for the 1 October Opening of the Borders, in advance, using with a small number of pre-selected participants.

September arrivals process

The arrivals process that is currently in place stipulates that all persons who wish to travel to the Cayman Islands must register their travel request with Travel Time, and complete the online application form in order to apply for pre-travel approval. Travelers who do not complete this process are not permitted to board a repatriation flight to Grand Cayman. 

On arrival in Cayman, travelers are subject to 14 days quarantine in a government managed isolation centre and a PCR test is conducted on day 15. Test results take 24-72 hours, and a negative test result is required to be allowed to leave. 

As has already been announced from 1st October, 2020, the Cayman Islands borders will begin opening in phases.  Given the ever-increasing number of Positive cases of COVID-19 in many of the countries around us, including the USA and Jamaica, we have had to adjust our initial plans, especially regarding isolation.

A new arrivals procedure which incorporates the use of an electronic monitoring device will be introduced, and travelers who select that option and meet the criteria, will be permitted to complete their mandatory quarantine in residential accommodations as an alternative to the government managed facilities. 

The electronic monitoring device selected is being used successfully in Hong Kong to help ensure that persons in isolation remain where they are supposed to be. 

We will also continue the programme and ramp up the programme of random physical checks on those quarantining at home as was being done successfully as part of the local testing, tracing and isolating process.  In other words, we are using a belt and braces approach with technology backed up by physical verification.

17 September Trial Period 

In preparation for the phased border opening, travelers from 20-25 households arriving on the BA flight on 17 September, 2020, will be identified to take part in a trial programme, the purpose of which is to gather information on various aspects of the new process, such as:

The persons selected to participate in the 17 September testing programme will be required to:

Travel Guidance for Phased Border Opening

On 1 October, we will launch the first phase of the Border Opening Plans, with a Pilot Programme with new arrangements and safeguards. These changes will enable the Cayman Islands to welcome additional categories and greater volumes of airline travelers, and to do so safely.

In addition to the lessons learned from the September testing, the Pilot in October will allow the Government to trial the new arrangements and safeguards, and to use the information from the September Pilot to decide if any improvements are needed going forward. This approach will further enable the Government to consider any changes that are required as a result of local or international developments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At the same time, the number of travelers coming into the Cayman Islands will be controlled. The Government has set a target of 800 travelers for the month of October.

This is a soft opening.  We are not opening our borders to commercial flights.  As before, we will focus on repatriation flights and private charters, and the continuation of the fortnightly BA flights from London, which will have started in September. 

October arrivals process

From 1st October, the requirement for all inbound travelers to receive pre-travel authorization from Travel Time will remain in place. However, a number of other changes will take effect as part of the phased border opening. These are as follows:

  1. The categories of persons eligible to visit will be extended beyond Caymanians, permanent residents and work permit holders and their families, to also include persons who own property in the Cayman Islands as well as persons looking to live and work from here for an extended period of time and other approved visitors.
  2. The locations where persons may quarantine after 1 October will be expanded to include residential accommodations approved by the Medical Officer of Health, in addition to government-operated isolation facilities.
  3. However, self-isolation at a residence must be combined with the use of monitoring device technology. Persons who choose not to participate in the monitoring programme will be required to quarantine in a government facility for a minimum period of 14 days, and will be tested on day 15. A negative test result will be required to leave the facility. 
  4. All persons entering the Cayman Islands will be tested on arrival at the airport and will be taken by approved transport from the airport to begin their quarantine period either at residential accommodations or in a government facility. The test result is anticipated to take 24-72 hours. In both instances, the quarantine period will be 14 days with a PCR test on day 15.
  5. All persons who are not ordinarily resident in the Cayman Islands will be required to have health insurance that includes COVID-19 coverage.
  6. During the month of October, Cayman Airways and British Airways will continue to be the only two airline carriers operating repatriation flights to and from the Cayman Islands. Seat capacity remains limited and therefore non-essential travel is strongly discouraged until there is a measurable change in the global situation and normal commercial airlift resumes.
  7. There are no restrictions on outbound travel from the Cayman Islands and constraints on movement between Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands were lifted some time ago.  
  8. www.caymanairways.com.

The explore gov website is being updated to reflect this new information and also contains an FAQ section, which has answers to the most commonly asked questions we have received. Anyone who would like to find out more about travel or the phased border opening should visit the site at www.exploregov.ky/travel

Open House

The Ministry of Tourism has partnered with WORC and a wide range of tourism industry partners to offer a two-day tourism Open House, to give Caymanians an opportunity to re-skill or prepare for a job in the future as a qualified and desirable tourism employee.

The Open House allowed displaced tourism workers to find out about job vacancies in the industry (primarily as a result of expatriate workers having left) and provides them with opportunities to register for courses, or receive training to fill roles in the future, if they are not currently qualified to do so.

Just over 200 people registered yesterday and the event continued today for persons with surnames beginning with Q – Z. Person who could not attend yesterday were also welcome to attend today’s session. 

The open house provided:

Tourism partners included:

Accommodations sector:
Restaurant Sector:
Dive Sector:
CIG:

Tourism Stipend

When tourism came to an abrupt halt, workers in the industry were among the first economic casualties. Thousands of Caymanians were either furloughed or lost their jobs completely. As a result, government stepped in, as any caring government would do, to provide economic stimulus programmes for businesses and financial support for displaced workers in the tourism sector.

The Ministry of Tourism initially funded payments of CI$600 shortly after the onset of the pandemic to tourism sector workers. This was followed by a stipend of CI$1,000 per month for three months (July, Aug and Sept) paid to more than two thousand tourism workers who registered for the programme.

I am pleased to announce that the stipend programme is being extended for a further three months, from October to December. Persons who already receive these monthly payments will continue to do so until December. There is no need to reapply.

From 14 September, the registration period will be re-opened to give persons who worked in the tourism industry and who have NOT previously applied for the stipend, an opportunity to do so. To qualify for the tourism stipend persons must:

To apply for the stipend at stipend.ourcayman.ky 

Further details regarding the application process will be publicized in the coming days and I repeat that persons who have previously applied, or who are already receiving the stipend, should NOT apply as this will significantly delay the verification process for all applicants.

Sidebar: Governor Notes 14-day Isolation Remains for September, October

  • -days remains the WHO best practice duration for anyone who has or may have had contact with someone who has Covid. That is the policy for September and October.

BA flights

Civil Servants Return to the Work Place

Civil Servants Working Collaboratively to Deliver Government Priorities

Vaccines

Sidebar: Minister Seymour: Cayman Learning Lessons from World Around

•     COVID-19: Myths, Facts and Latest Trends;

•     The effects of the pandemic on mental health;

•     How telemedicine has helped throughout the pandemic;

•     Dealing with chronic illnesses during a pandemic;

•     Cancer diagnosis and treatment during a pandemic; and

•     An engaging panel discussion with representatives from various community groups

Sidebar – Minister Hew Updates on Business Centre, Liquor Licence Fee Waiver

I am pleased to announce that the Cayman Islands Centre for Business Development was officially opened last week. Again, I would to thank Governor Roper, Honourable Premier, Deputy Governor, Deputy Premier, my Cabinet colleagues and members of the business community for participating in the occasion.

The Centre is set up to improve small business viability across our Islands through advocacy, business counselling, training and increased access to finance.

It is located at Baytown Plaza, on West Bay Road, with offices for business advisors, training room, and a residential business incubator that will house up to twelve (12) start-ups for a period of up to two years, free of charge to them.

As you may be aware, the Centre has been coordinating Government’s support in the amount $14 million which was allocated to the micro and small grant programme, low interest loan programme as well as technical assistance and training programmes.

At the close of phase I of the micro and small grant programme in August, 1,528 applications were received.

To date, 82 applications have been received for the low interest loan programme.

As we move towards a post-COVID stage, the Centre will use the remaining micro and small business grant programme funds for a medium-term economic package that will benefit a minimum of 300 businesses. The new phase of support will cover:

Micro businesses will be able to access packages, not exceeding $10,000.00 while small business may access packages up to $20,000.00.

There are eligibility requirements to access these support packages. I want to encourage small business owners to contact the Centre at 244-8009 or via email CICBD@gov.ky for more information.

Walk-ins at the location also welcome.

Waiver of Liquor Licensing Fees for Grand Cayman and Sister Islands

In an effort to temporarily reduce the amount of fees incurred by businesses during these challenging times, Cabinet has granted approval for:

A full announcement concerning the waivers will be made by my Ministry in the coming days.

Photo caption Photo by GIS

Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin addresses the Wednesday, 09 September 2020 press conference at the GIS Studio to update the Cayman Islands on COVID-19 government actions.

For the official Cayman Islands Government web portal, www.gov.ky:

Web title: 9 September COVID-19 Update

Web blurb: Border reopening plans will include a pilot programme starting on 17 September to make the 1 October easier.

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