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17 June COVID 19 Update

Premier, Hon Alden McLaughlin

Cayman Islands leaders announced today, Wednesday, 17 June 2020 the easing of a large number of restrictions starting Sunday, 21 June 2020 which highlights the Islands entering Level 2 Suppression.

At the press conference today, they underscored that the latest easing of restrictions can take place in view of the continued control and prevention of COVID-19 in the Islands, thanks in great part to the people following and heeding the Government instituted restrictions.

The changes come in three phases on 21 June, 5 July and 19 July. The opening of the borders is still on track for 1 September 2020. However, this decision will be determined by world conditions in relation to COVID-19 closer to that time.

Prayer was led by Rev. Ed Tatum of the Church of God, Cuba, Alabama, USA.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee reported:

  • Of 385 test results (233 from Doctors Hospital and 153 from the HSA), all were negative.
  • Screening on Cayman Brac is now complete with 51% of the population covered. Screening of frontline workers will continue.
  • Of the total 193 positives so far, 2 are symptomatic, 58 asymptomatic, 1 hospitalised who is in stable condition and ambulatory, and 132 recovered.
  • 145 people are in government isolation facilities and 253 are in self isolation at their homes.
  • Seven attended the 'flu clinic yesterday and three out of 11 calls to the 'flu hotline were 'flu related.
  • The new drug determined to be highly effective in treating persons with severe COVID-19 is a cheap steroid that is in common use already for other medical conditions. This drug is available locally.
  • No clusters causing infections have been detected in the CI community; hence the move to Level 2 Suppression.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriquez said:

  • HSA plans to start immunoglobulin testing later this week or for sure from next week.

Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:

  • Government is pleased to announce that the Cayman Islands enters Level 2 Suppression from Sunday, 21 June 2020.
  • The CI has won this round with COVID-19 but the next challenge for Government to grapple with is how to reopen the borders safely for the people of the Cayman Islands.
  • So as of 21 June, there will be further softening of the restrictions - some starting that day, some more starting 5 July and further more starting 19 July. For full details see sidebar below.
  • Staycations are permitted after 21 June.
  • Preschools can open from 5 July.
  • Neither children nor teachers are required to be tested before going back to school. School openings remain as previously announced after the regular summer holidays.
  • The Competent Authority known as Curfew Time and its services will cease on 21 June. No one will be required to obtain exemption letters going forward from that date.

His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:

  • Repatriation flight to Chennai, India has been confirmed leaving Grand Cayman on Friday, 3 July 2020 by British Airways to London and onwards by Qatar Airways. All details for booking will be posted online shortly and there is no need to call the Governor's Office.
  • Today's significant announcement of easing of restrictions and moving to Level 2 Suppression from Sunday are very heartening and everyone who helped achieve this is thanked.
  • The closure of the borders remains the big challenge and needs to be addressed next, after monitoring the world situation closely.
  • The UK's scientific lead in new drugs, vaccines and ongoing work on rapid tests, are very heartening.
  • Two flights via BA to transport parents and students going off to colleges in the UK will take place in the first week and the last week of August.
  • Deadline for the part-time reservists posts with the Cayman Islands Regiment is 21 June and already 250 applications have been received. The Governor encouraged more Caymanians to apply.
  • For more from the Governor, see sidebar.

Minister for Health, Hon. John Seymour said:

  • Walking tracks, except at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, are open. Any residual problems with opening them are being addressed quickly.
  • See sidebar for more from the Minister.

Sidebar: Premier Announces Start of Level 2 Suppression for CI

Due to the efforts of each and every person living in the Islands, we are pleased to announce that, effective 21 June 2020, we are now entering Level 2 Suppression.

In practical terms, this means that as of 21 June 2020, there will be further softening of the restrictions - some starting on 21 June 2020, some starting on 5 July 2020, and others starting on 19 July 2020.

These changes are as follows -

CHANGES TO TAKE EFFECT ON 21 JUNE, 2020

  1. At 4:30 am on Sunday, 21 June 2020, the hard curfew comes to an end.
  2. From Sunday 21 June, 2020, persons will no longer be subject to the shelter in place requirements or to restrictions on travelling to certain places on certain days based on their surnames. Persons will however still be required to maintain social distancing requirements and to wear a mask while indoors public places.
  3. There will no longer be a prohibition for persons visiting each other's homes. This also means that domestic helpers and caregivers will be allowed to return to work in people's homes.
  4. The definition of "public meeting" will change in Grand Cayman and gatherings of up to twenty-five persons will be permitted.
  5. In Cayman Brac there has been no change and twenty-five persons or less will continue to be able to gather. The social distance requirements will continue to apply.

    This does not relate to Little Cayman which has no such restrictions.

    However, social distance requirements and the wearing of masks indoors public places continues to apply to Little Cayman.

  6. All establishments, institutions, businesses, churches, cinemas, theatres, beauty salons, barbers, spa/masseuse services, medical, dental offices (subject to approval from the Cayman Islands Medical Council), organisations and offices will be able to fully operate and must all observe the social distance requirements and enforce the wearing of masks by customers.
  7. However even though offices can be opened, it is still advisable to have as many people who can continue to work from home.

  8. Restaurants and bars in Grand Cayman continue to be able to serve customers on any patio or other outdoor area which forms a part of the premises of the bar or restaurant.
  9. However, the following conditions will apply from 21 June, 2020 -

    1. each table must be at least eight feet apart;
    2. persons at a table must be seated at least six feet apart;
    3. no person shall be seated or served at an indoor counter in a bar or restaurant;
    4. servers and front of house staff shall wear masks or cloth face coverings while serving customers; and
    5. a restaurant or bar will be permitted to operate within the hours of operation permitted by the Liquor Licensing Law (2019 Revision), the Sunday Trading Law (2014 Revision) and the Trade and Business Licensing Law (2019 Revision).
    6. Karaoke and dancing will not be allowed until after 19 July.

  10. In Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, persons will now be able to host or attend a wedding with no more than twenty-five persons other than the bride, bridegroom, official witnesses and the marriage officer.

  11. In Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, persons will now be able to host or attend a funeral where there are no more than twenty-five persons in attendance other than the six pallbearers, at least one officiant and essential mortuary staff.

  12. Persons will be now be allowed to exercise at any time but shall be subject to the public meeting and social distance requirements.

  13. Restrictions on activities conducted at beaches fall away from 21 June. Persons at beaches will however still be subject to social distancing requirements and gatherings of no more than 25 persons.

  14. From 21 June strata and public pools can be accessed by persons from different households, subject to gatherings not exceeding 25 persons as well as persons observing social distancing requirements with persons from outside their households.

  15. As it relates to scuba diving and snorkelling, persons are asked to note that they not allowed to rent any scuba or snorkelling equipment, with the exception of dive tanks or buoyancy control equipment, to any customer for any scuba diving activity including for any training in scuba diving or snorkelling.

  16. Persons in Grand Cayman will now be allowed to use a boat for any purpose once there are not more than ten persons on the boat.

    Persons in Grand Cayman are however still not allowed to travel for pleasure by boat to visit Cayman Brac or Little Cayman.

    Persons are reminded that they are still not allowed to operate or manoeuvre a boat so as to congregate or gather with any other person on any other boat or vessel where the number of persons gathering exceeds a certain number of persons. That number was previously six and from 21 June it will be ten persons.

    Additionally, persons will still not be allowed to congregate or conduct any boating activity in the waters in the areas specified in Starfish Point, Rum Point, the Sandbar and Stingray City until the date specified later.

  17. Persons in Cayman Brac will now be allowed to use a boat subject to there not being more than ten persons on each boat.

    Persons in Cayman Brac or Little Cayman are however still not allowed to travel by boat for pleasure to visit Grand Cayman.

  18. With regard to inter-island travel, persons in Grand Cayman are not permitted to travel by boat to Cayman Brac or Little Cayman, except for the transport of freight to Cayman Brac or Little Cayman.

  19. A person who wishes to travel from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac or Little Cayman by air shall prior to travelling -

  • notify the Medical Officer of Health of the proposed travel;
  • remain at a place of isolation as specified by the Medical Officer of Health for a period of not less than fourteen days; and
  • be tested for the virus.

We wish to reiterate that persons will only be permitted to travel after receiving a test result which has been declared to be negative by the Medical Officer of Health.

CHANGES TO TAKE EFFECT ON 5 JULY 2020

  1. From Sunday 5 July, 2020, educational institutions and facilities, including summer camps and vacation bible schools, may commence full operations, including social and sporting activities.
  2. It should be noted however that sporting activities at an educational institution or facility are subject to the requirement that persons shall not engage in contact sports before 19 July, 2020.

  3. From Sunday 5 July, 2020, in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, restaurants and bars will be able to offer both indoor and outdoor services.
  4. However, the following conditions will apply -

    1. each table must be at least six feet apart;
    2. there are no limitations on how many persons can sit at a table however they must be seated at least three feet apart;
    3. servers and front of house staff shall wear masks or cloth face coverings while serving customers; and
    4. a restaurant or bar will be permitted to operate within the hours of operation permitted by the Liquor Licensing Law (2019 Revision), the Sunday Trading Law (2014 Revision) and the Trade and Business Licensing Law (2019 Revision).

  5. In Grand Cayman, persons will be able to exercise in a strata gym and public gym from 5 July, 2020.
  6. From 5 July, a person who wishes to travel from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac or Little Cayman shall prior to travelling -
    • notify the Medical Officer of Health of the proposed travel; and
    • be tested for the virus.

    Again, persons are reminded that they will only be permitted to travel after receiving a test result which has been declared to be negative by the Medical Officer of Health.

CHANGES TO TAKE EFFECT ON 19 JULY 2020

  1. Managers or operators of a restaurant or bar may permit customers to engage in dancing or karaoke at a restaurant or bar.
  2. Nightclubs may resume operations.
  3. Persons may engage in contact sports.
  4. In Grand Cayman, there will no longer be a prohibition on more than ten persons congregating or gathering with other persons on other boats.
  5. In Grand Cayman, there will no longer be a prohibition on congregating or having boats remain Starfish Point, Rum Point, the Sandbar and Stingray City.

The Regulations will last until 2 August 2020 or until such later date as the Cabinet may specify.

Sidebar: Governor Announces Flight to Chennai, India for 3 July

Welcome news from the Premier today on the lifting of many restrictions starting on 21 June, including the hard curfew. Hope this gives everyone on the Islands a lift.

Testing has been an outstanding success of our response to Covid19. We are currently third in the world for tests per capita. Our testing gives us the confidence and evidence needed to move to suppression level 2 (minimal suppression). There remains much uncertainty and complexity out there in the world in dealing with Covid19. We've heard about China and New Zealand but you just have to look at South America, South Asia and what's happening in the US - there are some very difficult situations. We have got ourselves into a very positive position and created a safe bubble for ourselves in Cayman. As Government measures are reduced, the onus is now on each of us to show individual responsibility - keep going with social distancing, basic hygiene and good respiratory behaviour and wearing masks in public. It's really important as we continue to move forward to not let our guard down.

The border clearly remains our biggest challenge and nobody out there has all the answers to this. We're watching very closely what others are doing and there is a lot of work going on to work out how we can safely open our borders. Thanks to all for your cooperation in helping getting us to this place.

I welcome the news about a breakthrough in the treatment of COVID19 from the UK. Oxford University trials of Dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug, has successfully reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by almost a third. There is lots of other science based work taking place in the UK on vaccines and also on rapid tests trials which we are keeping a close eye on.

I can confirm that we will have a flight to Chennai, India on 3 July. This has not been an easy flight to arrange as the Indian government have stringent requirements for personal protective equipment for all flight crews coming into the country. We have arranged for British Airways to come to Cayman to fly Indian Nationals to London and then use one of BA's partners, Qatar Airways, to fly onwards to Chennai. This flight is for Indian Nationals only. If there is demand we will arrange a second plane. Details of how to book will be released soon. Please don't call my office or contact my office just yet.

My office are also discussing proposals with BA for two flights to London over the Summer - most likely first and last weeks of August. These will be for those needing to take their children back to school and for students needing to get to university in the UK. Details are still being worked out but will be shared once finalised. There will be no air bridge to the UK in July.

The deadline to apply to join the Cayman Islands Regiment as a Reservist is this coming Sunday 21 June. We have 50 part time Reservist positions to fill for which we have received around 250 applications so far - which is really positive. I would encourage even more Caymanians to sign up. We hope to have the reservists in place by 1 September. Thanks to the UK Security Assistance Team who have been sifting applicants and are helping to design the two week training course which will be provided to all recruits.

Sidebar: Minister Seymour Welcomes Easing of Restrictions

I pray you are feeling more comfortable with the way things are moving as we continue to move toward fully reopening our local economy and being able to be more social. I pray that you will keep in mind that even though many restrictions have been eased to date that you will continue the recommended prevention measures and to protect each other. Do not lose your sense of responsibility for the health and lives of your family, friends and community. Let us all not become complacent as this still critical time.

I am proud to be a part of a community that has shown our strength and resilience despite the challenges and struggles we and indeed the world have been facing.

I urge you to continue to pray for your leaders, in government, in the public service, in private industries and in science and medicine. We as a country have much to be thankful for. I am reminded of that daily as I see the hard work and knowledge that is brought to the table every single day.

As Minister of Culture I want to say how proud I am to see how Caymanians and residents have truly shown their Caymankind attitudes. Caymankind may be a new term but the Caymankind spirit has been around throughout our history. We are an incredible people who have shown that 'little axes cut down big trees.'

On that note as someone who is proud of our maritime history and proud of our motto "He Hath Founded It UponThe Seas", I wanted to also highlight yesterday's celebration of World Sea Turtle Day.

As many may be aware, the Cayman Turtle Centre has planned two green sea turtle releases to mark World Sea Turtle Day and as a part of continuing its conservation efforts.

Five yearling turtles were released into our waters yesterday and another five will be released tomorrow. What better way to celebrate the animals that provided sustenance for these islands, agriculturally and economically throughout our history?

Tomorrow's release will once again be done virtually due to the COVID-19 restrictions. It will be live-streamed on the Turtle Centre: Island Wildlife Encounter Facebook page beginning at 9:00am. I encourage you to also sponsor and name a turtle. You can learn more at the www.caymanturtles.ky website.

The facility has been releasing turtles consistently for decades now, and a recent press release from the Turtle Centre revealed that to-date it has released more than 32,000 of its captive-bred sea turtles into the wild.

Also, it is indeed a joy to hear that the Department of Environment has reported an increase in turtles nesting, primarily due to the lockdown measures and decrease in human activity on our beaches. This is but one silver lining to the dark cloud that is the COVID-19 pandemic.

I congratulate the hard work of all those involved in these conservation efforts over the years and pledge to support the continued educational and cultural aspects of this very important work happening here in the Cayman Islands. A place I am so proud and most humbled to call 'home'.

Stay Safe Cayman and have a blessed evening.

GIS

For further information contact: Bina Mani