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Friday COVID 19 Update

Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin

At Friday, 01 May 2020 COVID-19 press conference, new regulations were announced to come into effect from Monday 4 May for two weeks, in view of the test results continuing to be encouraging.

However, the ability to open up community activity has to be cautiously approached and conducted in view of the one positive result received today which has been deemed to be entirely through community transmission. Government's primary goal is reiterated as being to suppress the spread of community transmission of the virus, while ensuring the hardship suffered by businesses and individuals is cautiously minimised.

As a result of the new regulations, the additional essential services now include public sector postal services, private sector pool maintenance, grounds maintenance, landscaping and gardening services; mobile car wash and mobile tyre repair services, laundry and laundromat services, pet grooming service providers, pain management and chronic pain treatment services.

Money remittance facilities have met the requirements of the Competent Authority to satisfy relevant COVID 19 protocols and will be opening.

Hours have been extended by an hour - from 6 am and 7 pm - for restaurant food delivery, food delivery by other businesses and grocery delivery services now extended up to 10 pm; supermarkets, convenience stores and minimarts, pharmacies, gas or refilling stations can open for one hour longer up to 7 pm.

Hours for retail banks, building societies and credit unions have been extended by three hours, now being allowed to open from 9 am to 4 pm.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee reported:

  • Of 392 results, there is one positive from community transfer on Grand Cayman and 391 negatives.
  • A total of 1927 tests have been conducted on all three islands so far.
  • Specifically, 949 people have been a part of the wider screening tests across the three islands, with 772 done at HSA and 177 at Doctors Hospital.
  • Of the 74 positives so far, 32 are symptomatic, 28 are asymptomatic, three admitted to HSA and 2 at Health City, for other reasons, who also tested positive for COVID 19.

Commissioner of Police, Mr. Derek Byrne reported:

  • Commissioner outlined a number of new provisions to curfews including changes and extensions to exercise timings. For full details, see sidebar below.
  • However, exercising outside of home and home grounds is prohibited during hard curfew lockdowns for all Sunday on 3 May and 10 May.
  • All beaches continue to be strictly off limits for the next two weeks when the new regulations are set to expire.

Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:

  • Premier outlined the provisions of the new COVID 19 regulations that come into effect on 5 am Monday, 4 May 2020. For full details see side bar below.
  • The Cayman Islands are moving from Level 5 Maximum Suppression (currently) to Level 4 High Suppression on Monday 4th May based on an evaluation of risk in the community, including continued low positive covid-19 results, low levels of calls to the flu hotline, and low hospital admittance. If all goes well, we hope to move to Level 3 in two weeks when businesses like home depots and hardware stores will become open to the public like supermarkets, maintaining distancing protocols as required. This will depend on test results.
  • Currently, the nation is in a wider testing and screening mode, results of which inform Government's decisions in the moving between suppression levels and the reopening of community and business activities.
  • The emphasis is still on maintaining social distances and other shelter at home. He called for patience in relation to the non-opening of beaches and non-commercial fishing during the next two weeks, which are impossible to police for activities and increases the risk for community transmission.
  • Testing all the population on Little Cayman and over 245 persons on Cayman Brac has been done. If the results are as expected, Government will be able to lift restrictions next week, first for Little Cayman and then Cayman Brac. He again asked for patience from those islands' residents.
  • NRA will soon begin some much needed and planned road works following testing of some 10% of their crew tomorrow and the results from those being satisfactory.
  • The fish market, selling catch from Cayman's commercial operations, will move and open at the Cruise Dock (South Terminal) and operate with physical distancing protocols in place. Likewise, the Hamlin Stephenson Market at the Cricket Grounds (Farmer's Market) will similarly begin operating.
  • The new regulations would put some 6,000 persons on the roads.
  • Operations such as green iguana culling and pest control of outside the house and buildings could be considered by those businesses applying to the competent authority via Curfew Time to make their cases under the new regulations. The aim is to ensure minimal human to human contact. All new provisions are not cast in stone and subject to good test results continuing.
  • Garages and parts stores are set for reopening only in the next stage.
  • If a business is declared an essential service, it can operate but needs evidence to support this status, should police stop their employees along the way. Employers need to carry this evidence by applying to www.exploregov.ky/curfewtime for confirmation of essential business status. This process takes about 48 hours. When carrying out essential duties, workers should carry this letter as well as a letter from their employer naming them as an essential worker in the business - in addition to an official ID such as a driver's licence.
  • Premier also provided the ways prescribed currently for custody of children between parents. Also, it would not be a breach of soft or hard curfew for those facing domestic violence to seek shelter, even it means doing this during curfew hours. See more in below sidebar.

His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:

  • The 390 negative results are highly encouraging and reveal Government's cautious, sensible and measured plan, coupled with "huge amount of details" is working by managing risks and going through constant review points.
  • Regarding evacuation flights, both flights to La Ceiba are full. All passengers should send their required medical certificate to his office staffer Ms Maria Leng by close of today for the Monday flight and by Tuesday 5 May for the Friday, 8 May flight. Email Maria Leng.
  • A flight to Costa Rica will take place on Friday, 8 May. Call CAL direct at 949-2311 to book.
  • The flight to the Dominican Republic is awaiting confirmation by that government.
  • Those seeking flights are encouraged to contact emergencytravel.ky or use the tool at www.explore.gov.ky/travel.
  • The Royal Navy vessel deployed to the Caribbean, the RFA Argus will be off shore Grand Cayman on Monday, 4 May and Tuesday, 5 May off Cayman Brac and conduct joint exercises. For details, see sidebar below.
  • He expressed gratitude for the R3 Cayman Foundation and National Recovery Fund. Details are in a separate release.
  • There are currently no immediate changes in the operations of the civil service.

Minister for Health, Hon. John Seymour said:

  • Minister asked people to note the need to maintain their mental health during these stressful times. See sidebar below.
  • He announced a one-time stipend of $1,000 to local musicians feeling the pinch during the closure of the tourist industry. This amount would be paid out by the end of May. Musicians would be contacted individually. Those seeking information could email Natasha Powell or call 936-2369.
  • All MLAs were today provided disposable masks for distribution.
  • As a measure of regional cooperation, Government is sending 5,000 test kits to St. Lucia and in return getting much needed pipettes, vital tools in the testing procedure.
  • 30,000 PPE suits have arrived, thanks to HCCI and the HSA.

Sidebar 1: Commissioner Spells Out Changes to Curfews

Police Commissioner Derek Byrne provided details about how the soft and hard curfew provisions currently in place and the changes coming Monday 4 May will be applied. He said:

"Soft curfew or Shelter in Place Regulations will be in operation between the hours of 5am and 7pm daily today and tomorrow Saturday. Next Monday 4 May 2020 this will change, extending by one hour, to 5am-8pm daily Monday to Saturday.

Hard Curfew or full lockdown, save for exempted essential services personnel will be in operation this coming week-end that is tonight and tomorrow night Saturday between the hours of 7pm and 5am. Next Monday 4 May 2020 this will change, reducing by one hour, with hard curfew each night between the hours of 8pm and 5am.

Exercise periods not exceeding 90 minutes will be permitted between the hours of 5.15am and 6.45pm today and tomorrow. Next Monday 4 May the 90 minute exercise period will be permitted between the hours of 5.15am and 7pm daily Monday to Saturday. No exercise periods are permitted on Sunday during the period of curfew.

Sunday, 3 May 2020 and Sunday, 10 May 2020 will operate as 24 hour curfew periods with full hard lock down on both dates. No persons other than exempted essential services personnel will be permitted to leave their homes on those dates, for any reason. Exercise periods in public places are not permitted on either of those two dates.

Beach Access to Public Beaches throughout the Cayman Islands - From Friday 1 May 2020 through to Friday 15th May 2020 there is a full 24 hour curfew or hard lockdown of all public beaches throughout the Cayman Islands- this means no access to public beaches throughout the Cayman Islands at any time during the period between the hours of 5am on Friday 1 May 2020 and 5am on Friday 15 May 2020. For clarity, - this in effect is a full hard lock down of all public beaches throughout the Cayman Islands which prohibits any person(s) from entering on, walking, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, exercising or engaging in any type of marine activity on any public beach throughout the Cayman Islands. This hard curfew runs until Friday morning 15 May at 5am.

I remind all persons that a breach of a hard curfew order is a criminal offence carrying a penalty of $3,000 KYD and imprisonment for one year, or both."

Sidebar 2: Premier Outlines Regulations' Changes

The Prevention, Control and Suppression of Covid-19 Regulations, 2020 ("the Regulations"), which come into force on 4 May 2020, repeal and replace the Public Health (Prevention, Control and Suppression of Covid-19) (Ticket) Regulations, 2020 and the amendments thereto.

It should be noted however that the "shelter in place" provisions still remain in place, subject to a few changes.

In respect of PUBLIC PLACES, the changes are as follows -

  • Money remittance facilities are now open to the public and are allowed to operate at any time during the hours of 6:00 am and 7:00 pm, however, money remittance facilities must operate in accordance with such conditions as may be imposed by the Competent Authority.
  • Post offices are now open to the public and are allowed to operate at any time during the hours of 6:00 am and 7:00 pm.
  • Retail banks, building societies and credit unions are now allowed to operate during the hours of 9:00 am and 4:00 pm.

In respect of the RESTRICTION ON CERTAIN ACTIVITIES AND OPERATIONS, the changes are as follows -

  • Visits to educational institutions are only allowed by persons who are involved in the distribution or collection of school supplies from those educational institutions.
  • Persons will now be allowed to conduct the business of a mail or parcel courier service, but only where the person is providing only for the collection and delivery of mail or parcels.
  • Persons will now be allowed to conduct the business of a pet grooming service, but only where the person is providing for the collection and delivery of the pet.
  • Persons will now be allowed to conduct the business of a retail store, but only where the person is providing for the delivery of goods.
  • Persons will now be allowed to conduct the business of a car dealership, but only where the person is providing for the delivery of vehicles.
  • Persons will now be allowed to conduct the business of a laundromat, but only where the person is providing for the collection and delivery of the items.
  • Persons will be allowed to conduct the business of a car wash service or a tyre repair service, but only where the person is providing a mobile car wash service or a mobile tyre repair service.
  • Persons who provide pool maintenance services will now be allowed access to private strata pools, but only for the purposes of cleaning and maintaining the pool.

In respect of the ESSENTIAL SERVICES PERSONNEL, the following persons have been added to the list of persons who are exempt from the shelter in place regulations, but only while they are carrying out their official or employment related duties -

  • Persons who provide pain management services or persons providing treatment of chronic pain.
  • Persons who are involved in the distribution of school supplies at educational institutions.
  • Postal workers and persons employed by mail or parcel courier services to collect and deliver mail and parcels.
  • Persons who operate retail stores and persons employed by them to deliver goods.
  • Persons engaged in the provision of pet grooming services and persons employed by them to collect and deliver pets.
  • Persons engaged in the provision of pool maintenance, grounds maintenance, landscaping and gardening services.
  • Persons who provide mobile car wash services or mobile tyre repair services.
  • Persons who provide laundromat services and persons employed by them for the collection and delivery of items.
  • Persons who operate car dealerships and persons employed by them to deliver vehicles.

We have also extended the times until which persons who provide food delivery services or grocery delivery services may operate, as well as extended the time for persons to collect food.

  • Persons employed by restaurants to provide food delivery services may do so until 10:00 pm.
  • Persons employed by businesses other than restaurants to provide food or grocery delivery services may do so until 10:00 pm.
  • Persons who travel to restaurants which provide drive-through or curb side collection of food or provide for the take out of food may do so until 7:00 pm.

In respect of EXERCISE, persons are allowed to exercise outdoors for no more than one and a half hours per day, between the hours of 5:15 am and 7:00 pm.

Persons are reminded however that they cannot exercise around or in a public pool or a strata pool or in a public or private gym.

Persons are also reminded that they cannot drive their vehicle to any place for the purpose of engaging in exercise.

In respect of ESSENTIAL TRAVEL TO FULFIL A LEGAL OBLIGATION, we have now expressly included attorneys-at-law who have to undertake essential travel to participate in or represent their clients in any legal or related proceedings.

In respect of ESSENTIAL TRAVEL TO CERTAIN PLACES, we have added post offices and money remittance facilities to the list of places which persons may undertake essential travel to on their allotted days.

Persons who have to travel to educational institutions to collect school supplies shall also do so on their allotted days. This of course does not apply to persons who have to distribute the school supplies.

As a reminder therefore, persons whose surnames begin with the letters A to K shall undertake essential travel to supermarkets, convenience stores and minimarts, retail banks, building societies and credit unions, gas or refilling stations and money remittance facilities on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Persons whose surnames begin with the letters L to Z shall only undertake essential travel to the places just referred to on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Persons are also reminded that where a person has a double-barrelled surname, the first name of the person's double-barrelled surname shall be the name used for the purposes of determining the person's allotted day.

These Regulations will remain in place from 4h May, 2020 until 18 May, 2020, unless the period is extended by the Cabinet.

Sidebar 3 - Premier Clarifies Custody, Shelter Needs

"It appears from concerns raised that two matters may require clarification:

  1. Where parents are not living together but either by agreement between them or by order of the court, must have access to their children for the purposes of shared custody and care, they are entitled to so the shelter in place regulations notwithstanding. As these arrangements are often by agreement between the parents rather than by order of the court, it would not be necessary for the police to require them showing a court order. Where there is no order, a letter of agreement between the parents will suffice.
  2. Under the Regulations as originally promulgated and as currently in place, a person may leave a place of residence in order to avoid being harmed. This may include changing one's place of residence for such reasons." (This applies to domestic violence situations.)
  3. Sidebar 4 - Governor Notes RFA Argus Operations

    "RFA Argus

    • As the Security Advisory Team continue their quarantine on Island, RFA Argus, one of the Royal Navy Caribbean task force ships will be in the Cayman Islands area Monday 4th May (Grand Cayman) and Tuesday 5th May (Cayman Brac).
    • A very different visit than normal, they will not be setting foot on the Islands, or receiving visitors on the ship, due to the Covid-19 situation.
    • Embarked on the vessel are three Merlin Helicopters and one Wildcat helicopter. Their intention on Monday is to fly two helicopters in the morning on a recce of Grand Cayman and two helicopters in the afternoon on an drugs interdiction exercise with the RCIPS Marine Unit vessels.
    • The vessel also has Disaster Relief stores on board, as well as Royal Engineers and other specialist personnel who can help with repairing and restoring vital services.
    • The RCIPS helicopter will meet the Navy helicopters airborne and conduct a familiarisation over the radio in loose formation. They are looking for key areas and landing sites (no landings will be made) in preparation for the upcoming hurricane season and the usual general brief of the Islands.
    • Tuesday 5th - RFA Argus will be in the vicinity of the Sister Islands and will conduct a similar recce of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. Again, there will be no landings.
    • As standard procedure, the ship will remain in the region during hurricane season as vital support if needed.

    Swabs

    • Our ability to sustain significant COVID 19 testing was given a boost over the last two days with the arrival of 52,000 swabs which are used to collect samples. A further 100,000 swabs are also due to arrive shortly. Like all supplies connected to the testing process, swabs are in short supply globally.
    • My thanks to the Dart Logistics team led by Chris Duggan, Gary Gibbs and Simon Fenn who masterminded the operation to supply the swabs from a manufacturer in China. My team worked with Dart and the British Consulate General in Guangzhou to help facilitate the release of the consignment from China.

    Disaster relief funds

    • The premier and I are pleased to welcome the formation of the R3 Cayman Foundation and the planned reactivation of the Cayman Islands National Recovery Fund, formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.
    • I am very grateful to everyone working to make these two initiatives a success and to the funders who have very generously devoted their time and resources. The initial donation from Ken Dart was an important catalyst. The two funds will collaborate closely and enable Cayman to be even more resilient in tackling the threats that we all face from natural and man-made disasters.

    Flights

    • Both flights to La Ceiba, Honduras are now full. All passengers must send their medical certificates to Maria Leng by close today for the flight on Monday and by Tuesday 5th for the flight on 8 May.
    • A flight with Cayman Airways to San Jose, Costa Rica has been confirmed for Friday 8 May. You can book your tickets directly with Cayman Airways on 949 2311.
    • A request has been sent to the Dominican Republic Government for a flight and we are waiting for confirmation that permission has been granted. We hope to announce something next week.
    • Due to the success of the online tool, the Emergency Travel helpline will move to new hours from Monday 4 May. Phones will be manned from Monday - Friday from 9am - 1pm. You can still register your details at any time via the online tool www.explore.gov.ky/travel."

    Sidebar 5: Minister Seymour Addresses Mental Stress from COVID-19

    "Today I'd like to talk to you about mental health. As many of you know this topic is extremely important to me and dear to my heart.

    Stress, Anxiety and Depression associated with the Coronavirus lockdown is something that we are all feeling. The idea that there is a virus, an unknown, unseen opponent wreaking havoc all over the world is overwhelming for almost everyone.

    I've been receiving reports from people in the community, many of them experiencing more instances of physical effects, like insomnia or headaches, lessened or increased appetite for example.

    Some of us may even be finding ourselves using not so healthy things to try to cope; like smoking or over-drinking. And though we can all empathise it's important to always remind ourselves that these types of coping mechanisms are contrary to what doctors across the world are telling us to do right now. Also as Dr. Lee kindly reminded us yesterday these things carry heavy health price tags such as cirrhosis of the liver and lung cancer whether there is a health crisis or not.

    I want to remind you that we all need to take stock, even if you don't think you're struggling to cope with the current situation. As we continue to fight this, the truth be told, we will feel further strains on our lives. Whether it be in awaiting test results or worrying about present and future finances none of us are immune to stress and the effects it can have on our bodies and minds can take a toll. Yes, we may each deal with it differently, but it affects us all.

    We know this is not limited to just Cayman; we have seen many reports of varying issues relating to mental health and coping from all over the world.

    Emotional health is very important to all of us, and as the Premier said earlier in the week, we are all human and all subject to becoming:

    • Discouraged
    • Overwhelmed
    • Depressed
    • Stressed
    • Inability to sleep
    • Anxious about the future
    • Or maybe even withdrawing from our own family members while facing what some call "cabin fever" in this rare situation.

    I am encouraging you at this six-week mark, to take stock, evaluate yourself and your family's mental health.

    Let's ask ourselves: Is there something just a little off? Or even very off? Are you spending enough time doing positive things? Are you exercising? Are you eating healthy and eating enough? Are you doing well and managing well over-all?

    There is some light in what feels like the darkness of this pandemic however, in that it is has placed mental health and dealing with mental illness on a global stage at this time.

    We are more able to discuss our own issues and we are looking out for family and friends more readily, and lending a helping hand because we are all feeling that we are susceptible to some form of emotional drain.

    I am pleased to say that my ministry staff and I have prepared for this from the very beginning and we have had help-lines and support available and to the public to proactively combat this issue.

    My message today is to say that it is okay to NOT be okay and please if you feel the need, call our Mental Health Help line on 1-800-534-6463, that's 1-800-534 (MIND), anytime between Monday and Friday, 9am to 5pm to talk to someone who can help you or your family members through this."

    GIS

    For further information contact: Bina Mani