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Friday, 29 May Update

Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin

As promised by Government leaders, a number of restrictions are set to be eased in a phased manner starting Monday, 1 June 2020, with more being eased on Sunday, 7 June up to Monday, 22 June.

However, they reiterated that there are no changes to existing hard and soft curfews this weekend including Sunday rules.

The new changes include an expansion of activities allowed within the current Level 3 Moderate Suppression phase to enable more outdoor recreational opportunities, limited gatherings with friends and loved ones in public places as well as carefully managed economic and social activity.

Notable openings include from the 1 June the entire construction industry, all retail and real estate businesses, subject to any conditions which may be imposed by the Ministry of International Trade, as the Competent Authority, and persons observing the social distancing requirements. Government has issued a guide for workplace re-entry which is available on www.gov.ky/coronavirus.

From 7 June onwards, outdoor restaurants and bars can open with restrictions. Times during which persons may exercise, including on the beach, are increased as well as numbers of persons exercising and boating together. However, no gatherings are permitted in excess of 6 persons including when at a restaurant or bar table or on a boat.

The new regulations approved by Cabinet today (Friday, 29 May 2020) have been gazetted, as was announced at the COVID-19 press conference today.

Prayer was led by young Leah Johnson in honour of Child Month that ends on Sunday.

Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee reported:

  • 673 test results with one positive

  • 15% of construction workers out of 8,000 are tested. Six of them are positive.

  • Out of 141 positives so far, three are on Cayman Brac. 818 persons on the Brac are swabbed and 699 results are received. Cayman Brac are aiming for 50% of the population to be tested by the middle of next week.

  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office provided new testing equipment - a gene expert machine - arrived today along with 200 test cartridges. They will be sent to the Brac to enhance the testing capability there. The results on this machine can be obtained in 30-45 minutes.

    Commissioner of Police, Mr. Derek Byrne reported:

    • The crime situation is very stable.

    • 404 speeding tickets issued.

    • New regulations further ease restrictions.

    For full details about the Commissioner's presentation, see sidebar below.

    Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:

    • Another significant milestone is reached with 11,000 tests done and with further easing of restrictions through 22 June 2020 and new regulations issued.

    For announcements from the Premier, see separate release.

    His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:

    • Further relaxation of restrictions is welcome step conducted in a prudent and measured manner.

    For more announcements from the Governor, see sidebar below.

    Health Minister Hon. Dwayne Seymour said:

    • People have to pay attention to easing mental stress when confined to homes as at present.

    • Shout out went to Ms Jean Solomon for placing Caymanians in jobs and for being in charge of Second Chance programme.

    For full remarks from the Minister, see sidebar below.

    Sidebar: Governor Welcomes Further Easing of Restrictions

    The relaxation of the current measures announced by the Premier is a significant and welcome milestone for us. I think they are sensible, measured and prudent based on an assessment of risks and in line with the advice of the Chief Medical Officer. Fully opening construction and retail, opening outdoor areas of restaurants and bars from 7 June and reducing most of the restrictions on the beach should give everyone on the Islands a lift.

    Thank you for your co-operation because it is all of you that have helped get us into this position. We must all continue to be mindful and maintain social distancing, basic hygiene and wearing masks. With more human interaction the risks increase - we will need to manage that going forward. But if the testing goes as we hope and we can move to suppression level two on 22 June, we can lift the hard curfew. We will be getting as close as possible to a return of some kind of normalcy.

    The BA evacuation flight to London Heathrow has now been confirmed for Friday 12 June. If you have registered with the travel helpline you will be sent an email on Monday with details of how to book. Please do not call or email the travel helpline if you have already registered - they do not have any further details about this flight.

    We will be bringing back a limited number of passengers from London to Cayman. Because capacity is limited at the isolation facility, seats on this flight will be allocated by the Cayman Islands London Office. Do not contact the office if you have already registered, they will contact you. If you haven't registered with the Cayman Islands London Office you can do so online at www.cigouk.ky/airbridge or contact CIGO UK.

    Cayman Airways has announced three more flights to Miami on 5 and 26 June and 3 July. Please contact Cayman Airways to book: 949 2311

    Since our borders closed on 22 March, 1473 people have departed on emergency evacuation flights and 314 people have been able to return home to Cayman. Last Saturday's flight to Manila was the 25th emergency evacuation flight to depart Owen Robert International Airport.

    Yesterday I met with all the members of the UK MOD Security and Assistance Team (SAT) after their isolation period came to an end. I am really grateful for all their work so far liaising with RFA Argus and HMS Medway about the provision of helicopter relief next month, the hurricane/pandemic planning work they've been doing, the support for our Regiment recruitment campaign and their assistance around the provision of medical supplies to the Islands. It's good to have them here to provide reassurance and support at these challenging times and they bring an impressive range of skills to the table including logistics, medical, legal, training, security and planning experience.

    Sidebar: Commissioner Explains New Regulations

    "The crime situation across the Cayman Islands remains very stable and the policing and security operating environment is very calm. The hard curfew in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac continues to operate well. Social distancing at commercial and business outlets is going well and most businesses visited by our officers have introduced signage and guides for social distancing, patrons and customers are reported to be understanding and compliant. We have received a number of reports where persons are promoting house parties and inviting friends over for drinks and meals. Some of these events are captured on social media others are notified in the form of complaints received from members of the community. This is not permitted under the regulations and a small number of persons have been warned for prosecution. These social gatherings breach both soft and hard curfew provisions.

    Traffic:

    There has been a significant increase in traffic on our roads. I mentioned at our last briefing that traffic was a major community concern. For the period 15 May to this morning our Roads Policing & Traffic Enforcement Unit have issued (404) speeding tickets with the top sped recorded at 102 mph. The frequency of speeding is notably occurring on the Esterley Tibbetts Highways, Shamrock Road, and along South Sound Road. I remind all road users that speeding is a major contributing factor to serious injury and fatal traffic accidents.

    Curfew & Crime:

    • Factoring in tickets that have been issued between the 15 and 23 of April, approximately 780 persons have been either warned for prosecution or ticketed since the start of Covid restrictions. There remain a very small number of tickets that need to be processed.
    • There are 17 persons that have been warned for prosecution more than once over the period of Covid restrictions. This includes 2 persons that have been warned for prosecution on 3 separate occasions and 1 person warned on 4 separate occasions.
    • 53% of persons warned for prosecution were pedestrians or on bicycles and 47% have been in vehicles.
    • Since the start of Covid restrictions 42% of all warnings for prosecution have been on George Town, 32% on West Bay, 11% on Cayman Brac, 11% on Bodden Town, 3% on East End and 1% North Side.
    • In the last 14 days there have been 35 incidents resulting in warnings for prosecution being issued being issued to 51 persons. These incidents were located on WB (18), GT (12), BT (3), EE (1), CB (1).

    In relation to overall levels of crime over the Covid period, since the 23 March - 29 May 2020:

    • Overall crime, excluding Covid incidents, has reduced by 33% compared to the same period for 2019.
    • Violent crime has reduced by 25% compared to the same period for 2019.
    • Burglary has reduced by 63% compared to the same period in 2019.
    • Robbery has reduced by 89% compared to the same period for 2019.
    • Theft has reduced by 62% compared to the same period for 2019.

    Otherwise all is very stable and calm across the islands.

    I would now like to take a few moments to go through changes in Shelter in Place and hard curfew changes which will come into effect next week commencing Monday 1 June 2020.

    New Curfew Order (6):

    This morning 29 May 2020, as required under the provisions of S. 49(1) Police Law (2017 Revision), I consulted with H.E. the Governor of the Cayman Islands and advised him of the necessity to impose a new curfew order commencing on the evening of 1 June 2020. My advice to H.E. was predicated on the basis - that it appears to me that having regard to the immediate threat of a serious hazard on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands associated with the COVID19 virus, that there are reasonable grounds to believe that in the interest of public safety it is necessary to impose a new curfew order. This morning, following a meeting of the National Hazard Management Executive followed by a meeting of Cabinet, I have now received permission from H.E. the Governor to impose a new curfew order effective Monday, 1 June 2020.

    It has been approved that this new imposition of curfew order will be in place for a period of 21 days and will end on the morning of the 22 June 2020. Subject to the following conditions:

    • Curfew period will run nightly between the hours of 8pm and 4.30a.m for the period Sunday night 1 June 2020 until 4.30a.m. on Sunday morning 7 June 2020.
    • On the night of Sunday the 7 June 2020 adjustments will be made for the hard curfew period to run nightly from 10pm until 4.30am concluding on Monday morning the 22 June 2020.
    • The new imposition of curfew order relates to Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac only.

    This week-end the existing imposition of curfew order remains in place with nightly hard curfew between the hours of 8pm and 5am tonight, tomorrow night and Sunday night on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac. For Grand Cayman a 2 hour exercise period is permitted tomorrow and Sunday between the hours of 5.15am and 7pm on both dates. Beach access is permitted tomorrow Saturday subject to the alphabet surname restrictions, permitting surname range L-Z only. Beach access, fishing or marine activity is not permitted this coming Sunday, 31 May 2020.

    Moving to Monday, 1 June 2020 new regulations titled the Prevention, Control and Suppression of Covid-19 (Partial Lifting of Restriction) Regulations, 2020 will come into effect. These new regulations will be gazetted later this evening. Key dates contained in the new regulations are Monday, 1 June 2020 and Sunday, 7 June 2020

    The new regulations will significantly ease existing shelter in place or soft curfew restrictions. The Premier will address you shortly on the range of easing of restrictions contained in the new regulations. I will outline the changes in hard curfew hours and the easing of restrictions that will apply.

    Cayman Brac:

    Current Soft curfew or Shelter in Place Regulations contained in SL 42/2020 dated 30 April 2020 which came into effect on 4 May 2020 will remain in place until Sunday, 31 May. This means that the existing imposition of curfew order (nightly hard curfew) remains in place this week-end i.e. tonight, tomorrow Saturday and Sunday, between the hours of 8pm and 5am ending Monday morning 1 June 2020 at 4.30am (which is a slight adjustment of 30 minutes). During this period of curfew only exempted essential services personnel may be on the road outside and away from their residence.

    • On Monday 1 June 2020 evening, the nightly curfew period will be adjusted slightly, introducing a nightly curfew between the hours of 8pm and 4.30am running through until Sunday morning 7 June 2020.
    • Effective Sunday night 7 June 2020 night time curfew will be further adjusted to run nightly between the hours of 10pm and 4.30am running through until Monday morning 22 June 2020.

    Grand Cayman (Similar to Cayman Brac):

    Current Soft curfew or Shelter in Place Regulations contained in SL 47/2020 dated 16 May 2020 which came into effect on the 19 May 2020 will remain in place until Monday, morning 1 June 2020 at 4.30am. This means that the existing imposition of curfew order (nightly hard curfew) remains in place this week-end i.e. tonight, tomorrow Saturday and Sunday, between the hours of 8pm and 5am ending Monday morning 1 June 2020 at 4.30am (which is a slight adjustment of 30 minutes). During this period of curfew only exempted essential services personnel may be on the road outside and away from their residence.

    • On Monday evening next, 1 June 2020 the night curfew period will be adjusted slightly, introducing a night curfew between the hours of 8pm and 4.30am running through until Sunday morning 7 June 2020.
    • Effective Sunday night 7 June 2020 night time curfew will be further adjusted to run each night between the hours of 10pm and 4.30am running through until Tuesday morning 22 June 2020.

    Key changes to curfew from Sunday 7 June 2020 are:

    • Nighttime curfew is between the hours of 10pm-4.30am each night Monday to Sunday in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.
    • On Sunday, 7 June 2020 and each of the following Sundays within the period of curfew i.e. Sunday, 14 June and Sunday, 21 June, beach access is permitted with no restriction on beach exercise by surname or on Sundays. Sunbathing, parties, picnics or congregating on public beaches is not permitted. Access to public beaches on Cayman Brac is already permitted.
    • Exercise is permitted for 2 hours each day between the hours of 4.45am and 9pm.
    • Deliveries for take away food until 11pm.
    • Collection of food 10pm curb side, take away or drive through.
    • All activities are subject to physical distancing social distancing requirements set out in the new regulations.

    To assist in understanding this easing of restriction - exercise includes, swimming and fishing from the shoreline, (includes ironshore). Social Distancing requirements apply and persons should not congregate in groups of more than two (2) through Saturday, 6 June and more than six (6) from Sunday, 7 June. No other inshore activities are permitted. No picnics or other social gatherings are permitted on public beaches.

    Boating and Fishing: The restriction on use of boats for fishing has been relaxed in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac and permits fishing between the hours of 4.45am and 9pm each day of the week including Sunday from Sunday, 7 June subject to the restriction that no more than 6 persons may be on a boat. Fishing is permitted between the hours of 5.15am and 7pm through Saturday, 6 June. In Cayman Brac, boats may also be used for leisure during these times. Inter-island travel by boat is not permitted.

    No fishing or boating or congregating are permitted at the following locations - Stingray City Star Fish Point, Rum Point and the Sandbar. This means that a person may not anchor any boat, exercise on the beach, fish or swim or carry out any activities in any of those mentioned areas. This restriction does not impact beachside residents exercising at those locations.

    Sidebar: Minister Seymour Provides Advice for Mental Stress

    "I know we say it often but these are some unprecedented times that we are all living in. Only a few who are still alive today can say they experienced something on this level of crisis.

    And while we all have been adjusting to the global pandemic, many of us have been experiencing varying degrees of stress and anxiety and even breaks in mental health.

    In the wake of this pandemic, one of the issues we have found people are now experiencing because of social distancing or self-quarantine is "cabin fever".

    Cabin fever is a common term around here and it means "the reaction to being isolated or confined for an extended period of time."

    Some of the common symptoms of cabin fever are:

    • Lethargy
    • Sadness or depression
    • Trouble concentrating
    • Lack of patience
    • Food cravings
    • Decreased motivation
    • Difficulty waking
    • Frequent napping and
    • Hopelessness

    I've been asked to note that these symptoms may also be suggestive of a wide range of other disorders.

    If any one of these symptoms are particularly distressing or are impacting anyone's ability to function as normal, we encourage you to contact the mental health helpline on 1.800.534.mind that is 1.800.534.6463 for free and confidential advice. The help you will find on the other end are some of the kindest and most knowledable people I have ever had the privilege of working with. I want to add here that though the progress has been slowed because of the pandemic it only serves to motivate me further to ensure my ministry sees the opening of the long term mental health facility in the very near future. If ever there is time to truly appreciate how important this initiative is it would be now.

    For now we are doing all we can to ensure everyone's physical and mental health is taken care of and believe me when I say it is of the utmost importance during these times.

    I do want to offer a few tips that can be used at home to help in coping with any of these symptoms but again, I encourage anyone who is experiencing any of these symptoms to contact the helpline or a trained mental health professional. We do not want anyone to feel as though they must deal with this alone.

    If you can, get out of the house - go outside for a walk or for some exercise even if only for a few minutes. Stretching for a few minutes a day has so many health benefits it might surprise you!

    If you are able take advantage of the opportunity to walk along our beautiful beaches, please do so, because the sunlight and fresh air can help regulate the body's natural cycles, and exercise releases endorphins which have a painkilling effect and can reduce pain.

    Of course, we ask you adhere to the current regulations and requirements of social distancing.

    And when you can't leave the house, find a way to stay physically active while indoors. Regular physical activity can help burn off any extra energy you have from being cooped up indoors. There are many online resources available to help with finding exercises that can work for you, including yoga or high impact interval training or other exercises outside with family.

    Try your best to continue with your normal eating patterns and try to monitor eating habits. Do not skip meals and try to plan meals around the same time every day. Eat healthy, low sugar foods - as balancing our nutrition keeps our immune systems healthy.

    Set daily and weekly goals and track your progress toward completion. Make sure that your goals are reasonable and reward yourself for meeting each milestone.

    It is best to try to limit screen time and watching hours of tv. Try to stimulate yourself by doing crossword puzzles, reading a book, or playing board games with family members - you can play online as well if you are currently separated from your loved ones. This can help keep you moving forward and reduce feelings of isolation and helplessness.

    Try to stay social, watch the local livestream events happening on the:

    • Department of tourism's facebook page
    • Check out the community page on the government's website www.gov.ky/coronavirus.
    • Or the happy hour events that showcase local musicians and
    • Reach out to friends - call someone different every day and share what you've been up to and encourage them as well.
    • And of course visit the wellness page which has so many useful tips and resources at www.exploregov.ky/mind.

    It is important to take this situation seriously. While accepting the necessity of having to stay inside, there are many things you can do to help fight off that cabin fever feeling.

    Please also know that the government is doing all it can to move forward with its plan to slowly open back up the economy and get things to a "new" normal. But for now please shelter in place and let's beat this virus.

    We will no doubt be able to move about more regularly soon, but i ask you to remember that for now staying home is helping to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. When you do venture out please wear your masks, wash your hands as much as you can and stay the minimum required six feet distance from others.

    A reminder for everyone of the mental health helpline it is

    1.800.534.MIND, that's 1.800.534.6463 if you or someone you know needs free and confidential advice, do not hesitate to call. You are not alone.

    I just want to add a note here to all the frontline test takers that they should log in via the "My HSA" portal to see their test results.

    The HSA website www.hsa.ky will have more details on the mobile app and how to access it.

    Thank you and god bless you all.

    GIS

    For further information contact: Bina Mani