COVID-19 Update for Friday, 2 October 2020

·         Out of 337 test results, two were positives; both are travellers and in isolation.

·         One positive has mild symptoms.

·         There was one call to the ‘flu clinic which was ‘flu related.

·         The new quarantine in residence programme is successfully underway, as part of the phased border opening programme. 

·         New regulations that come into effect until 30 November 2020 are emphasised, which now allow for a maximum of 500 people under the public gathering limit.

·         Government announced a government guaranteed loan scheme for medium and large-sized businesses through five local banks.

·         Pension withdrawals so far have totalled some $400 million.

Grand Cayman (GIS) – At the COVID-19 press conference today, Friday, 2 October 2020, Cayman Islands’ leaders announced a new government guaranteed loan scheme for medium- and large-sized businesses through five local banks.

Additionally, they also noted the successful start of an extended home quarantining programme, following wider opening of Cayman Islands’ borders that began on 1 October 2020 for a limited segment of visitors.

            An update provided revealed that emergency pension withdrawals so far are some $400 million.

Also, the leaders highlighted new regulations that come into effect until 30 November, including an increase in the public gathering limit to a maximum of 500 people.

Persons will also be allowed to fish outside territorial waters without having to quarantine under certain circumstances. Additionally, children under 10 years are not required to wear masks in public places but ALL are required to wear masks when visiting a healthcare facility, residential home care facility, prison, airport and other specified public place.

Further, there were no breaches of home isolation and no one was referred to the RCIPS or warned for prosecution in the home isolation trial.

           Prayer was led by Pastor Dr. Stephen Tillis.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee reported:

  • Out of 337 test results today, two are positive; one is symptomatic with mild symptoms. Both were travellers and remain in isolation.
  • Out of a total of 213 positives, there are three active cases now, of whom one is symptomatic and two asymptomatic.
  • There are 445 people in isolation, 324 in government quarantine facilities and 121 in home isolation.
  • People coming on all six flights into Grand Cayman tested negative. The two positives today were detected from an exit screening test after a 14-day isolation period and the other during care given for other required services who has very mild symptoms.
  • There was one call to the ‘flu line and it was ‘flu related.
  • It is not business as usual for persons in isolation. A lot of trust is placed on them and a lot of mechanisms in place to ensure they stay in isolation in their homes. Those in home isolation are requested to ensure that none visits them. Any emergency work that needs to done such as plumbing emergencies need to be discussed with Travel Cayman first and not to assume they can ask anybody to go to their house without such permission. Any such remedial work which can be postponed to do so until after they come out of quarantine.
  • There is also a pet policy in place as determined by Travel Cayman.
  • At the end of September, the incidence of people in Miami who were COVID positive was 0.27% which is approximately three per 1,000. At the end of July, that figure was one per 100, so the figures in Miami and Florida are improving.

Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:

  • In an update on the 1 October border opening, 110 people arrived from six flights which included one each from Cayman Airways and BA as well as four private charters, all of whom went into Quarantine at Residence Programme at 72 different homes. Remaining passengers went into a quarantine facility. All were tested on arrival at the airport.
  • Changes to COVID Regulations that continue until 30 November, include increase to the maximum number for public gathering to 500 people, including at hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. Also, persons are allowed to fish outside territorial waters without having to quarantine, under certain conditions.
  • The total number of applications for pension withdrawals were 34,086 in May, 6,027 in June and 3,199 in July. The total amount paid out is just over $400 million.
  • The Global Citizenship Concierge Programme is in the final stages of government approval and will be announced. However, it will allow overseas persons to conduct their overseas business remotely and they will not be in competition with local businesses.
  • The deadline for small and micro businesses to apply for support under Phase II of the Government grant programme is Friday, 9 October. Under Phase II, support packages will be provided to cover wages, digital enablement, commercial rent assistance, business process innovation grants and customized business continuity plans.
  • For more from the Premier, see sidebar below.

His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:

  • While the extensive mitigations in place for home isolation in the Cayman Islands should give confidence and reassurance, people need to stay alert and vigilant. The virus is a complicated one.
  • The Governor’s Office is close to announcing the capacity to take biometric details for applications for UK visas, including transit visas.
  • People have to remain vigilant about scams and fake posts on social media which are in circulation.
  • When vaccines become available, the Cayman Islands will be supplied by the UK, and under PAHO, as part of a new WHO scheme.
  • At the start of Older Persons Month, we should thank Cayman’s elderly for their unique contribution to making our Islands’ prosperous.
  • For more from the Governor, see sidebar below.

Health Minister Hon. Dwayne Seymour said:

  • Public Health guidance for activities such as Halloween include practicing preventative measures to ensure there is no spread of COVID-19. These include washing hands frequently, wearing a mask when visiting other people’s homes, practising social distancing, not going trick or treating if unwell.
  • Front line workers are encouraged to continue regular testing.
  • For more from Minster Seymour, see sidebar below.

Finance Minister Hon. Roy McTaggart said:

  • A new government guaranteed loan programme will assist medium and large sized businesses facing challenges meeting their operating, capital expenditure and re-financing debt needs. Five local Class A banks will lend up to a maximum of $200 million to such businesses. Government will guarantee 50% or $100 million of the loans. For full details about the programme, see separate release.
  • In an update on incoming mail from the US and UK, the first shipment of 700 lbs. of mail arrived from Miami on a Cayman Airways flight on Thursday, 24 September. Further, on 1 October, just under 2,200 lbs. of USPS mail and parcels arrived. All mail was sanitised overnight and delivery began at 6 am today. Additionally, BA flight brought 1,100 lbs. of mail on 1 October, which is being sanitised and processed for delivery. For more on mail update from Minister McTaggart, see sidebar below.

Also responding to media queries at the press conference was Programme Management Office Director Dr. Tasha Ebanks.

Sidebar: Premier Provides Number of Updates

Home Isolation Trial

The Home Isolation trial provided a great opportunity to train the new teams, refine the process and enhance the technology solution. Overall successful and contributed to the success of yesterday.

·         There were no breaches of home isolation and no-one was referred to the RCIPS or warned for prosecution.

·         The 29 persons in home isolation received their day 15 COVID-19 test this morning, and the results are expected by the end of the day.  If they are negative the Mobile Compliance Team will go out to the homes and do the off-boarding.

·         As we deliver the pilot over the course of October the teams will refine, enhance and complete the development of the programme.

·         110 people arrived yesterday from six flights – Cayman Airways, British Airways and 4 private planes went into the Quarantine at Residence Programme to 72 different homes.

·         Remaining travellers went into a quarantine facility

·         All travellers (those going home and those going to a quarantine facility) had a COVID-19 test at the airport.

·         Those that went home were taken via authorised transport. They are being monitored by the Monitoring and Compliance Team.

Changes to the COVID Regulations

The following changes are expected to come into effect once they are published later tonight and will expire on 30th November 2020.

Increasing the maximum number of persons in regards to “public meetings”:

The limits on public gatherings will be increased to a maximum of 500 persons. There will be no exemptions to exceed this number for activities that fall under the definition of public gathering.  I repeat the maximum number of persons at a public gathering including hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and other such businesses will 500 persons.

This increase is also reflected with maximum public gatherings on a boat or group of boats.

We are allowing the ability to fish outside of territorial waters as follows:

Introducing the ability to fish outside of territorial waters, without having to quarantine upon return, as long as persons have advised the Port Authority and Customs and Border Control and received approval and a rotation number. 

  1. Boats that receive clearance to go outside of territorial waters can do so for 48 hour fishing trips and are limited to 25 persons.  
  2. The operator of the fishing vessel shall provide the names of the Captain, crew and all passengers and shall possess clearance to leave the waters issued by the Customs and Border Control Service.
  3. Additionally, all vessels must declare if they have allowed anyone, other than the persons cleared to depart, to board their vessel while on the trip/journey or to declare such occurrence.  Failure to make a full and truthful declaration be an offence.
  4. Persons fishing outside of territorial waters will only be authorised to fish at the following areas –

a)            60 Mile Bank- N 20.015388, W 82.034369;

b)            Pickle Bank- N 19.331364, W81.579896;

c)            12 Mile Bank- N 19.318341, W 81.611573 & N 19.344467, W 81.555659;

d)            Lawford’s Bank- N 19.47.000, W 79.13.000; and

e)            Fish Attracting Device (FAD) N 19.44.730, W 81.19.573.

With regard to the wearing of masks indoors at a public place, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer the minimum age where a person is required to wear a mask indoors at a public place is anyone over the age of ten (10) years old.

For the avoidance of doubt, I would add that the requirement, for ANY person regardless of age, to wear a mask when visiting –

(a) a health care facility;

(b) a residential home care facility;

(c) a prison or place of detention;

(d) an airport; or

(e) such other public place as may be specified by notice by the Medical Officer of Health,

Remains or they can be refused entry.

Phase II of Small Business Grant Programme

The Cayman Islands Centre for Business Development (CICBD) announces that the deadline for entrepreneurs and business owners to apply for support under Phase II of the grant programme being offered by Government to micro and small businesses is Friday, October 9.

Under Phase II of the grant programme, support packages for micro and small businesses will be provided to cover wages, digital enablement, commercial rent assistance, business-process innovation grants and customised business-continuity plans.

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

The general eligibility requirements include:

·         Applicants must have an up-to-date trade and business licence and other relevant licence/permit;

·         Must meet definition of small or micro business as per the Trade and Business Licensing Law

·         Must be compliant with all relevant industry regulations

·         Business must have been operational for at least 12 months as at February 2020

·         Must be at least 60% Caymanian owned; and

·         Business must be a going concern

The CICBD reserves the right to request additional documents as may be required.

Phase II of the grant programme for micro and small businesses will support at least three hundred micro and small businesses that have a viable market but need help retooling and innovating to meet the needs of the post COVID-19 business environment.

Applications for the grant programme should be submitted online at www.cpiministry.gov.ky. Persons needing assistance may come in person at the CICBD location at Bay Town Plaza, off West Bay Road, call 244-8009 or email CICBD@gov.ky.

Pension withdrawals

I would like to provide an update with regards to the emergency pension withdrawals.

 May 2020June 2020July 2020
Total number of applications received34,0866,0273,199
Total number of applications approved25,5965,2682,851
Total number of applications rejected8,490759348
Number of applicants taking the maximum amount allowed70.30%50.80%92.21%
 
Total amount of funds paid out to MembersCI$309,885,025CI$57,130,690CI$33,229,693
 
Total number of applications processed in 45 days or less88.39%98.20%91.20%
Total number of applications process in 46 days or more11.61%1.80%8.80%

Global Citizen Concierge Programme

·         The Global Citizen Concierge Programme (GCCP) is a Ministry of District Administration, Tourism and Transport initiative strategically designed for the Cayman Islands to welcome high net worth individuals who are global professionals with the flexibility to work remotely due to current world events.

·         The GCCP is aimed at eligible professionals and families that can fully support themselves while on island, are willing to quarantine as prescribed by current regulations, and intend to enjoy a longer stay in the Cayman Islands.

·         The structure of the GCCP does not allow the individual to earn citizenship rather allows them to experience the Caymankind lifestyle found only in the Cayman Islands. 

·         The GCCP is led by the Ministry and Department of Tourism in conjunction with all relevant government departments.

The programme is in the final stages of government approval. An announcement pertaining to the GCCP will be provided once the programme details have been finalised.

Sidebar: Governor Happy Arrivals Programme Going Well

We continue to be in an enviable position when you look across the world. Pleasing that our pilot testing the home isolation policy went very well with no major issues identified. Programme is underway for arrivals this month. Going well so far with very efficient handling at the airport. 

Virus rages around us. Over a million deaths and 30 million cases. UK cases up to 7000 a day and some areas eg North East seeing large spike in infections. 

Underlines the importance of the extensive mitigations we have in place to manage risks from incoming travellers including from US, UK and Jamaica. Understand anxiety in community about that.

Worth repeating that there are probably very few countries that have such extensive mitigations in place for home isolation (geo-tracking bracelet, physical surveillance, testing on arrival and after 14 days, steep fines for breaking rules). That should give us confidence and reassurance.  

But we need to stay alert and vigilant. Get any symptoms checked out quickly as Dr Lee said. Remember that even though we have lifted most restrictions social distancing and hand washing still encouraged if you are in a vulnerable group or visiting one. 

The virus is very complicated. We only have to look at New Zealand to understand why we can’t be complacent. Cases popped up after a long period of no cases. We are dealing with human beings. Carelessness and mistakes happen. We need to be ready to put restrictions back in place if we get community transmission. Contingency work done to prepare for that eventuality. But let me assure you everyone is working very hard to avoid it and manage the risk. This panel and the entire Government and civil service are united and clear on that. 

Transit Visas for UK

Very aware that many people need visas, including transit visas, to travel to the UK and that Covid has prevented the British High Commission in Kingston from coming to Cayman to take biometric data. That will become bigger problem with end of immigration amnesty. We are working hard to find a solution. Pleased to announce close to having the capacity to take biometric details via my office in Grand Cayman.  We will issue a press release soon. 

Scams and fake social media messages

I want to remind the public to remain alert and vigilant about scams and fake posts on social media. There is a lot in circulation just now. A fake account claiming to be from Minister Tara Rivers approached members of the public for cash. There are fake social media accounts of Government Ministers. I got a message from WhatsApp saying I had won one million dollars in a cash prize!  If something seems too good to be true, it probably is! Unscrupulous people are using Covid and people’s concerns to extract money from them.

So everyone, please be cautious. If not sure check with someone in authority. Remember that it is a crime to produce and share disinformation in the Cayman Islands.

Vaccines and the UK

Want to say something about vaccines and the UK to underline the UK’s leading role internationally in the Covid response. 

On Wednesday, as part of this year’s virtual UN General Assembly, the UK co-hosted an event with the WHO, the UN and the government of South Africa. The aim of the event was to bring together the international community around the ‘ACT-Accelerator’ (a global initiative to speed up the development, production and equitable access to new COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines).

The UK has been committed to driving forward a global response to the pandemic from the outset. UK is one of the biggest global donors and to date has pledged up to £790 million of UK aid.

Last week the UK Prime Minister announced a contribution of up to £571 million to COVAX, a new initiative designed to distribute a Covid-19 vaccine across the world. Of this sum, £500 million will be for the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment, which will give lower and middle-income countries equitable access to vaccines that are developed, demonstrating the UK’s commitment to ensuring everyone has access to a vaccine once it is available.

This follows on from the UK’s role as host of the Global Vaccine Summit conference in the summer, which raised nearly $9bn to support the immunisation of 300 million more children globally against diseases like measles, polio and diphtheria.

As I have mentioned before, the UK has undertaken to supply Covid-19 vaccines to the Overseas Territories from its supplies, once available. We are also covered under PAHO (WHO for the Americas) as part of the COVAX scheme I mentioned above. That will give us vaccines for 20% of our population. It is important we diversify our supply as we do not know which will come first.

One of most promising vaccine trials remains Oxford University. At an advanced stage. Already shown it can trigger immune response. Deal done with AstraZeneca to supply 100 million doses to the UK. We can have confidence it will not be distributed unless safe and reliable. 

Older persons Month 

Finally, yesterday was the International Day of Older Persons. One of the incredibly powerful impressions I have formed after 2 years in Cayman is the enormous respect for the elderly. They created the success that is Cayman today. From seafaring roots to a high-end tourism product, major financial centre, one of the safest and most peaceful places in the region and one of the best places to live and work. Let’s thank our elderly people for their unique contribution.

There can be no greater sign of that gratitude than the Government’s response to Covid, which has prioritised from day one the wellbeing and health of our elderly and most vulnerable. That is something for all of us to feel very positive about.  

Sidebar: Minister Seymour Provides Public Health Guidance

Good Afternoon Caymanians, Residents and Caymanians watching and listening in overseas. I am blessed to be here with each of you today at another press briefing.

Firstly, I wish to thank all the hard-working people who ensured the phased border reopening went smoothly yesterday.

As you all have heard the updates to the current Regulations, I wanted to give some specific Public Health guidance for upcoming activities such as Halloween.

Our kids have missed out on a lot this year, so we do hope that we can discover lots of fun remaining in 2020, in safe and innovative ways. 

The Ministry of Health encourages the public who plan to engage in Halloween activities this year to practise preventative measures in order to reduce the possible transmission of COVID-19.  These include:

  1. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use of an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

A helpful tip is to carry a pocket-sized hand sanitiser and use frequently if collecting candy from others.

  1. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean hands or after touching candy.
  2. Consider wearing a mask while visiting other people’s homes.

Please remember that costume masks do not substitute for surgical masks or cloth masks (made of two or more breathable fabrics) covering your nose and mouth.

  1. Maintain six feet away from other groups as much as practical.
  2. Stick to your social groups (the friends you usually see at home or at school).  Avoid moving between groups of friends.
  3. Do not trick-or-treat if you are unwell and avoid contact with anyone who is sick.

Houses participating in trick-or-treating activities can do their part too. We recommend the ‘grab-n-go’ method:

  1. Provide zip lock/ goodie bags for trick or treaters to grab-n-go. This limits the traditional grabbing of treats in one container.

If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before preparing the bags.

  1. Place treats a few feet away from your door to maintain distance.
  2. Disinfect treat areas regularly, tablecloths and other surroundings with disinfectant where people may regularly touch.
  3. Provide hand sanitiser nearby for trick-or-treaters to use.

These recommendations are meant to remind us to continue to be vigilant in the fight against COVID-19, to not become complacent and to supplement and not replace requirements under the Prevention, Control and Suppression of COVID-19 (Partial Lifting of Restrictions) (No.4) Regulations, 2020.

If you are planning to host a Halloween party or participate in trick-or-treating, we encourage you to regularly check for Government updates on COVID-19 cases to determine whether you need to change your plans. You can find this safety guidance at: www.exploregov.ky/covid19-halloween.

On that note, I would like to encourage front-line workers to continue regular testing and to encourage others who may find themselves in crowded places frequently whether it be going out to enjoy the nightlife


WATCH Cayman Islands Government Press Briefing on Friday  HERE

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