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Thursday 16 April Update

Thursday 16 April Update

Extensions to hard and soft curfews were announced at the COVID-19 press conference today, Thursday, 16 April 2020.

The Commissioner of Police announced a new hard curfew order for 14 nights between 7 p.m. – 5 a.m. from 7 p.m. on Friday, 17 April until 5 a.m. on Friday, 1 May 2020. Sunday, 19 April and Sunday, 26 April will be 24-hour hard curfew periods and entering the beach will be restricted for 24-hours throughout the Cayman Islands from Friday, 17 April until Friday, 1 May.

The Premier announced the soft curfew or “shelter-in-place” order is also extended, with an extension of hours permitted to exercise (from 5:15 a.m. until 6:45 p.m.) and a restriction on driving in order to exercise.

One positive case was announced by the Chief Medical Officer, after prayer was led by Pastor Jason Every.

His Excellency the Governor explained an evacuation flight to Canada will be scheduled for next week and the Health Minister revealed plans for mask distribution by constituency MLAs.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee reported:

• Of 54 test results received, one is positive and 53 negative. This person is a contact of a previous positive result.

• This brings the total tests to 690, with 629 negatives and 61 positives.

• Of the positives, 19 of these are symptomatic and 25 are asymptomatic. The number of admitted is reduced to four and the ventilated patient is doing better at the Health Services Authority. The other patients are all stable.

• Five patients have clinically recovered, including the positive in Cayman Brac where they have taken 30 swabs with 29 negative results.

• Seven cases have fully recovered, with that number predicted to rise.

• Praising his colleagues at the Health Services Authority (HSA) for their contributions to national preparations for the COVID-19 crisis, Dr. Lee stressed they have worked solidly since this emergency began, at every level of the organisation. Their efforts have ranged from combing through scientific literature, to having clinical meetings and reorganising the facility and services, alongside outreach and enhancing public health to meet demands.

• He thanked HSA and all healthcare providers on island.

Commissioner of Police, Mr. Derek Byrne reported:

• Crime remains stable across the Islands, although there have been commercial burglaries in the George Town Central area, where two televisions sets were stolen.

• There were no issues with hard curfew on Little Cayman; Cayman Brac had eight vehicle interceptions, but no breaches of curfew; on Grand Cayman, Police intercepted 184 vehicles and no breaches reported. Two people were warned for prosecution having been found out walking at night. One case is being reviewed.

• Five persons were found in breach of soft curfew regulations on Grand Cayman today and issued with tickets; four drivers and one pedestrian were found to be moving about without lawful purpose.

• No breaches of curfew detected across public beaches. Helicopter and marine units remain deployed on extended tours.

• A new hard curfew order will come into effect tomorrow evening (Friday, 17 April), after the existing hard curfew order expires at 5 a.m. tomorrow. The curfew regime is therefore continuing.

• Under Section 49 (1) of the Police Law (2017), the Governor and Commissioner consulted and in the interest of public safety, a new curfew order will be imposed from 7 p.m. on Friday, 17 April until 5 a.m. on Friday, 1 May 2020.

• The order will remain in place for 14 nights between 7 p.m. – 5 a.m.

• Sunday, 19 April and Sunday, 26 April will be 24-hour hard curfew periods. No persons other than exempted personnel are allowed out and no exercise will be allowed.

• Beach access will be restricted for 24-hours throughout the Cayman Islands from 17 April until 1 May. A full 24-hour hard lockdown of all beaches will be in place, which prohibits entering all public beaches at any time.

• This prohibits persons from: entering, walking, swimming, snorkelling, fishing exercising or engaging in any type of marine activity on any public beach across the Cayman Islands until Friday, 1 May.

• The Commissioner clarifies this refers to the portion of the beach ending at the high water mark.

• A fine of CI$3,000 and imprisonment of one year or both can be levied if persons are found in breach of the hard curfew.

Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:

• He was encouraged by today’s one positive result; suppression efforts are working.

• He acknowledges that these restrictions are stringent and hamper our enjoyment of life and business, especially as the restrictions have been renewed for two weeks.

• Aggressive testing combined with these restrictions should leave us in a very good place to understand the degree to which the virus has moved through the community.

• He is encouraged that almost a month since this process began and since borders were closed, we are not seeing queues of symptomatic patients at healthcare facilities. This augurs well for the future.

• Premier implores people to be patient and to please cooperate with efforts, that the business community should not be discouraged.

• He quoted Bill Gates: “There is really no middle ground and it’s very tough to say to people ‘Hey, keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore the bodies in the corner. We want you to keep spending because there’s maybe a politician who thinks GDP growth is all that counts’. It’s irresponsible for somebody to suggest that we can have the best of both worlds.”

“The economic effect of this is really dramatic. Nothing like this has ever happened to the economy in our lifetimes,” Gates said. “But bringing the economy back… that’s more of a reversible thing than brining people back to life. So we’re going to take the pain in the economic dimension – huge pain – in order to minimize the pain in the diseases-and-death dimension”

It’s disastrous for the economy, Gates said. But “the sooner you do it in a touch way, the sooner you can undo it and go back to normal.”

• Government has endeavoured not to tinker with soft curfew or shelter-in-place rules too much, to facilitate their enforcement.

• The only change made relates to exercise, which is now permitted from 5:15 a.m. until 6:45 p.m. The regulations also remove the right to drive to an exercise location.

• All other provisions for the soft curfew remain in place.

• Cabinet met and has agreed:

1. To request the Cayman Islands Development Bank offer a 3-month loan payment holiday with respect to customers of the bank. In due course, customers will be advised of the details.

2. In relation to concerns raised by the financial services industry and the notarising of documents, changes to regulations will now allow notaries to notarise documents virtually using appropriate technologies in real time.

• The Governor, Attorney General, Premier, Leader of the Opposition and Cabinet have agreed to hold a meeting of the Legislative Assembly next week on Wednesday, 22 April to approve amendments to standing orders of the LA, which will allow them to then meet virtually.

• The Leader of the Opposition and Premier have agreed that Government will only have six members in the Chamber, and the Opposition, including the two independent members, will have four present for that meeting to maintain necessary physical distancing.

• A substantive meeting of the House will then take place on Thursday, 23 April to consider: the election of a new Deputy Speaker, changes to the Pensions Law, Traffic Law and Immigration Law.

• Pension changes will deal with a proposed six month pension contribution holiday, as well as changes to permit the withdrawal by pension account holders of some of their pension funds to assist in this crisis. The precise percentages are still being debated.

• Traffic Law changes will allow Cabinet to exempt various categories of fees and functions. The purpose of this is to allow registrations to be renewed without vehicle inspections during this crisis period

• The proposed amendments to the Immigration Law will allow Cabinet to exempt persons for a given period of time during the emergency to remain lawfully landed and to work, even if work permit applications have not been renewed or renewals have not been put in.

• He thanks the pastors for their prayers at the start of the press briefings and also the community for their prayers during this time.

• When asked about the cruise port referendum, the Premier said this was an international public health emergency and trying to keep the economy from collapsing is the priority of his government. The holding of a referendum is not on the government’s agenda.

• The issue before the court is not about whether to have a referendum; it is a major constitutional issue about whether the court is entitled to put itself in the role of an elected member of the LA with respect to legislation.

• He offered his personal view that the Judge is incorrect, not because of the outcome, but because in law it cannot be right for the court to decide what legislation can be passed. He called it “judicial activism on steroids”.

His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:

• One positive result is reassuring; the rise in cases overnight in Bermuda, including in an elderly care centre, reminds us how serious the risk is.

• The strategy, including the two-week extension for curfews, is supported. There is hope that measures to contain, suppress and isolate are having success. We must still be vigilant.

• The phased step-up in testing will begin with frontline health care workers.

• He thanks Cayman Airways, the Governor’s Office and Government for their work in securing the evacuation flights to Miami and Nicaragua.

• One flight to Canada will take place next week. The Canadian Government stresses persons can only get on to this flight if they visit the Registration of Canadians Abroad website: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration

• He thanked Dr. Lee, alongside his team at HSA and Acting Chief Officer Nellie Pouchie, for his reassuring and authoritative voice, in spite of being under immense pressure.

• Garbage collectors on the front line performing a crucial function are also thanked.

• He noted work undertaken by the Office of the Auditor General and Ministry of Finance during the crisis and thanked the Deputy Governor and civil service.

• He commended the 99-year old retired army captain in the UK for his fundraising efforts on behalf of the NHS.

Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said:

• The Ministry is working on efforts to provide each MLA in every constituency with an allotted number of masks for distribution. These will be received in days, thanks to efforts by the Red Cross and private seamstresses.

• More regulations will follow about wearing masks in public places.

• He thanked hotels offered as quarantine facilities and their staff and commended the DEH staff conducting hygiene inspections and those conducting quarantine inspections

• Government is grateful for those taking these measures seriously and obeying curfew rules.

• He acknowledged the generosity of private sector partners such as Avis, Cayman International School, Cayman Finance and McAlpine.

• He offered an update on the jingle open call: 98 entries have been received; he is grateful to enthusiasm of musical fraternity. Twelve chosen entries will be announced in two weeks.

For further information contact: Caroline James