At the COVID-19 press conference Friday, 17 July 2020, Cayman Islands' leaders announced the phased reopening of Cayman Islands' borders from 1 September that will enable tourism to resume but in ways that will be the "safest possible" for both locals and the air-arrival visitors.
Strict protocols are to be put in place to ensure that the conditions that have made the Cayman Islands one of the safest places in the world in the management of COVID-19 are not affected.
The leaders also enthusiastically lauded the continuing cooperation from the majority of the Cayman Islands' people, who have worked with Government to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
They noted that further relaxation of restrictions will commence on schedule on Sunday, 19 July. This includes is an increase of the public gathering limit from 25 to 50; dancing, karaoke and nightclub can begin, with some restrictions such as social distancing. In addition inter-island travel now only requires that the person(s) travelling should have been on the islands for over two weeks.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee reported:
Out of 274 test results Friday, there were no positives.
Of a total of 203 positives so far, there are no symptomatic cases, two are asymptomatic, none admitted and 200 have recovered.
There are 137 individuals at government- run isolation facilities and five in home isolation.
The 'flu hotline had no 'flu related out of seven calls received on Thursday.
In comparison with figures from corresponding months in 2018 and 2019, there has been half the number of cases seen in April and May 2020 and only a quarter in June during which there were only 127 patients with 'flu-like symptoms. The drop is attributed to better preventative protocols the entire community is following to suppress respiratory illnesses.
In antibody testing, 1,461 have been screened so far or 2.2% of the population; the testing was conducted at the HSA and Health City. 49 of these were positive, 36 were known to be positive, six who were contacted by the authorities as linked to known positives such as spouses and children; and seven had no history of being positive. The tests were not truly representative of the population as 50% of tests were of healthcare workers and the rest included first responders, those with chronic conditions such as dialysis patients.
The anti-body testing will be opened to all.
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:
"I'm happy to report that we've continued with our steady progress and are on track with our testing regime. I'm also very pleased that during these last two weeks we've only had two positive results reported, and both are asymptomatic."
"Thankfully, we are in a very good place and I'm comfortable moving forward with the easing of more of the regulations."
Further lowering of restrictions comes into effect on Sunday, 19 July and will remain in effect until 31August 2020.
Public gatherings numbers increase from 25 to 50 persons.
The support for micro and small business is proceeding well. Since launch, 1,085 applications were received from such businesses. So far, $1,592,000 has been paid to applicants, with a further $386,000 approved for payment.
The CI Coast Guard is now hiring for 10 positions. Caymanians between 18 and 35 years who are interested can get details and applications forms at www.jobs.gov.ky.
The Premier also discussed upcoming changes to the Covid 19 regulations.
His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:
Cayman Islands test results remain extremely encouraging including only two positives from over 3,000 tests.
"The strategy followed by the Premier and his Government is an outstanding success. We can be thankful we live in one of the safest places in the world just now. I believe our handling of this pandemic is already giving confidence internationally to Cayman's reputation and good governance."
In view of the situation in other places like Florida, Cayman Islands should not let it guard down.
Progress on the repatriation flight to Nicaragua is being made.
Deputy Premier, Hon. Moses Kirkconnell said:
A total of eight repatriation flights on Cayman Airways have been scheduled between July and September. These include five to Miami and three to Jamaica. Persons wishing to book travel on any of these repatriation flights are asked to visit the 'Travel Time' webpage on www.exploregov.ky/traveltime and complete the application form.
Government is opening a second registration period for displaced Caymanian tourism employees to receive further tourism stipends. Details will be provided at a later date.
A phased reopening of Cayman Islands' borders will begin from 1 September 2020. This phased reopening will be done in a cautious way throughout. This includes strict protocols, monitoring and management of the visitors when they are on the islands so that the experience is safe for them as well as the locals.
Decisions being taken will have benefited from the input and expertise of all of the relevant authorities and entities. Safety and security will remain as the main drivers behind all decision-making. "We prefer to err on the side of caution rather than take any short cuts, and nothing will be implemented without the ultimate approval of the Health Authority and Chief Medical Officer."
From 1 September, Owen Roberts International Airport, including general aviation, will begin a "soft" reopening for at least four weeks, to accommodate returning Caymanians and residents as well as individuals with homes in the Cayman Islands.
All inbound travellers to the Cayman Islands will be required to obtain pre-authorisation prior to boarding their flight.
To become pre-authorised, travellers must provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test from an accredited facility taken within 72 hours of travel. Children under 10 will be exempted from this requirement.
The negative test result must be sent to a CIG portal for confirmation.
Following arrival in Cayman, travellers will be subject to self-isolation for five days and wear a health monitoring device for continuous passive medical screening as an additional layer of safety and to further minimise risk after arrival in the Cayman Islands. After five days, they will undergo a second test, and if test negative a second time, will no longer be in isolation. However they will continue to wear the device so that health screening can continue.
"I am hopeful that this advanced health screening solution will sufficiently enhance our reopening protocols and provide further confidence so that that we can once again welcome visitors to our shores, while still minimising the risk of introducing new cases to the local community."
Protocols and plans are being finetuned.
The Ministry will disseminate a press release about this next week.
Health Minister Hon. Dwayne Seymour said:
MRCU is diligently battling the existing biting population of mosquitoes across Grand Cayman.
The Health Insurance Premiums Payment Assistance Programme continues to be underway. Invoices from approved insurers are being processed. When finalised, payments will follow.