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Friday 12 June Update

Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin

At the Friday, 12 June 2020 COVID-19 press conference, Government leaders noted that despite one person being hospitalised for COVID symptoms today, the Cayman Islands continues to be on track for further phased easing of restrictions on 21 June.

Prayer was led by Rev. Richard Fraser.

The priority remains for Caymanians and Permanent Residents over work permit holders to return to the Islands via evacuation flights. The need for them all to isolate at government provided facilities for 14 days continues.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee reported:

  • Out of 599 test results, one is positive from community transmission.
  • Total tests done to date rise to 17,277.
  • Of 187 positives now, three were in Cayman Brac (unchanged). Three are symptomatic of whom one is hospitalised and is in stable condition, and the other two are isolating at home. Also 67 are asymptomatic and 115 have recovered.
  • The 'flu clinic had 13 visits on Thursday and the 'flu hotline got 19 calls of which seven were 'flu related.
  • There are 96 in government isolation facilities and 317 in self isolation at their homes.
  • If one has symptoms and suspects that it could be from COVID-19, the person is urged, or their physician is advised to send them, to get tested.
  • The child who previously tested positive got better "very quickly" over 24-36 hours.

Forensics Pathologist Ms Angela Tarzillo-Swarts said:

  • Some 1,000 test samples await testing. Currently, some 500 tests are in progress.

Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:

  • Government is not prioritising new work permit holders over Caymanians and Permanent Residents on returning evacuation flights.
  • The vast majority on the BA airbridge flight on Thursday evening were Caymanians. There were 69 Caymanians, two Permanent Residents (PRs), 12 civil servant expats and 12 arriving to work on the airport runway expansion project. 19 are on work permits, all of whom will isolate at their expense at a government run facility.
  • The three current facilities offer 226 rooms.
  • A total of 110 Caymanians and 55 PRs in the US have registered to return to CI. An additional 158 Caymanians and PRs have also registered to return from other places.
  • An update on Government provided micro and small business relief measures noted that 586 applications have been received up to 11 June, 77% of which have been processed. Also 77 businesses have already received full payment of $3,000 each. The total value of grant applications submitted to be paid out is $759,969.41. In the low interest loan programme, 48 applications were received.
  • In the Passport2Success Cohort 30 graduation, 10 candidates were successful.
  • For all details, see sidebar below.

His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:

  • Huge thanks go to the lab testing team for their diligent work that has helped the Cayman Islands stay on track for reopening.
  • The Deputy Governor and his senior leadership team are launching an exciting new initiative called the CIG Cares Community Support Programme. The official launch will be next week and this is an opportunity for our Civil Servants who wish to participate in the programme to opt in and support some of our most vulnerable in the community.
  • Impressive beach exercises were carried out by the crew and crisis troops aboard the RFA Argus, which is in Cayman for another week to provide RCIPS with helicopter cover.
  • The CI Defence Regiment has received 200 applications to date.
  • On the public holiday on Monday, 15 June for the Queen's Birthday, the Governor and the Deputy Governor will deliver Queen's Birthday treats to some front-line workers.
  • For all details, see sidebar below.

Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said:

  • Shout outs went to CIBC FCIB for donating 40 computers to the Department of Education and to Davenport for their computer donations.
  • World Blood Donor Day on Sunday, 14 June serves to raise awareness of the vital need for safe blood and blood products.
  • Good quality sleep is an essential element for wellbeing, especially in these stressful times and all should pursue getting good sleep.
  • A total of 149 applications were approved for musicians' stipends.
  • Persons who have lost their jobs are advised to register with the Health Insurance Commission with regard to their health insurance premiums assistance.
  • HSA has recalled all metformin extended release tablets, prescribed for diabetics.
  • For all details, see separate release: Blood Donor Day Highlighted

Deputy Governor Hon. Franz Manderson said:

  • So many Civil Servants have reached out to ask how they can give back to the community. The CIG Cares Community Support Programme will launch next week and it is a programme that Civil Servants will have the opportunity to opt in to with all proceeds going to help the most vulnerable in our community.
  • Civil servants have been working very hard from home. Some may continue to work from home when more government operations reopen. Safety will be paramount in the phased re-opening. This will also help those who have to take care of children at home.
  • However, the civil service will be fully prepared to immediately respond to provide 100 percent service when the next phase opens.

Sidebar: Premier Notes Caymanians, PRs Priority in Returning Flights

BA Airbridge:

I just wanted to mention the BA airbridge flight that arrived yesterday and make it clear that Government is not prioritising new work permit holders over Caymanians or Permanent Residents despite incorrect information put out across social media. In fact Government has put Caymanians and PR holders as the priority.

On the BA flight yesterday by far the vast majority were Caymanians. In summary, the flight included 69 Caymanians, 2 Permanent Residents, 12 Civil Servants and their dependents as well as 12 individuals coming in to work on the airport project. There were only 19 individuals on the flight with work permits.

I would also confirm that a Government policy remains that the employers of work permit holders entering the Cayman Islands must pay for the time spent in mandatory isolation at a Government approved facility.

I acknowledge that there is an issue with ongoing availability of room stock to be used for isolation. Currently there are three facilities in use, with a total of 226 rooms.

We continue to seek additional accommodations and discussions have begun with one major hotel. The challenge is in part that some properties are gearing up for refurbishment ahead of what they are hoping is a decent staycation period and then eventual re-opening of tourism later this year.

I will provide a further update next week on accommodations. However, before closing, I understand there were some questions with regards the number of Caymanians in the US waiting to come home. I'm advised that currently there are 110 Caymanians and 55 PR holders in the US who have registered to come home. There are another 158 Caymanians and PR holders from other places who have also registered to come home.

With the responsibility of these repatriation flights being turned over to CBC, there will be one entity with oversight of the process including looking at the overall requirements for repatriation across all jurisdictions rather than a per flight basis and this will allow for a more efficient way of linking persons wishing to return with the accommodations available.

Those in charge to date have done a very good job given the challenges and whilst challenges continue we are looking at how to improve our ability to bring people home safely whilst also keeping the Caymanian community safe by ensuring those arriving here from overseas undergo mandatory isolation.

Ready2Work:

Ready2work programme has been relaunched. The programme is designed to provide industry specific training and re-tooling of Caymanian workers to better prepare them for the workforce. This includes: paid internships (by Employer and/or by the Government when required); support for child care if applicable and counselling and coaching. Benefits Include:

Job Seeker -

  1. Stipend provided along with support services such as childcare, counselling and career coaching.
  2. Experienced and knowledgeable facilitators to deliver an establish Employability 101 training programme.
  3. Provides a structured pathway to employment whilst addressing barriers to employment.
  4. Opportunity for full-time employment that aligns with the needs of the both participants.
  5. Dedicated Officer and HR Support to ensure you are provided the tools and support to ensure a successful connection with employment.

Employer -

  1. Subsidy offered for 6 months.
  2. Potential candidates are provided with training and development of employability and soft skills to better prepare them for accessing employment.
  3. Opportunity to fill job vacancies with Caymanians.
  4. Make a contribution to the development of Caymanians ensuring a vibrant economy.
  5. HR Support and dedicated officer to support with any performance issues or barriers to employment that would impact the ability to be successful.

For more information whether you're a jobseeker or an employer please email Ready2Work or call Paul Puckering 925-7230 or Dianne Conolly 925-7230.

Update on Government's Micro and Small Business Relief Measures:

Two months ago, Commerce Minister Hon. Joey Hew, announced a number of relief measures that Cabinet approved to support micro and small businesses. These measures form part of our efforts to arrest the economic disruption of COVID-19 and include the:

  • Low Interest Loan Programme - (funding of $5 million)
  • Micro and Small Grant Programme - ($9 million)
  • Technical Assistance Programme- ($500,000) and
  • Training and Handholding Programme - ($21,000)

The total amount in assistance that Government is providing to support the programmes is $14,521,000.00.

The Cayman Islands Centre for Business Development, which falls under Minister Hew's remit, is tasked with administering the various programmes. In terms of update:

Micro and Small Business Grant Programme:

  • As at June 11 (yesterday), 586 applications have been received and 77% of all applications have so far been processed.
  • The total value of grant applications submitted to be paid out is $759,969.41.
  • Seventy-seven (77) businesses have already received full payment of $3,000.00 each.

Low Interest Loan Programme

  • Funding for this programme is provided by the Cayman Islands Development Bank./li>

  • Forty eight (48) applications received to date, representing 34% of available funds.

Technical Assistance Programme and Training Programme

  • Contracts have been signed with technical assistants who will provide guidance and coaching.

  • Of the 20 low interest loan applications for which credit checks have been completed, 16 have been transferred to the technical assistants.

  • Three hundred and thirty eight (338) persons have participated in 6 training webinars hosted by the Centre for Business Development. They have covered relevant topics such as Managing Cash Flow in a Crisis, Moving Your Business Online, among other areas.

I want to encourage micro and business owners to pursue these opportunities which are available to assist you to navigate these challenging times.

The micro and small business grants, for example, is money being given to small businesses to provide working capital assistance. We have worked to make the requirements very simple, so please contact the Centre for Business Development to learn more. Hotline: 244-8009; Email: CICDB.

Passport2Success Cohort #30:

Passport2Success (P2S) is a 16-week soft skills training programme that bridges the gap between high school and the World of Work for young people ages 17 to 24 years of age. It is managed by the National Training & Development Unit at WORC and delivered by The Wellness Centre. To date, more than 500 young people have participated in the 10-year old programme. It has serviced a wide spectrum of young people: young parents, young persons with special needs and young people in their final years of high school who attend during the summer. While it is females who generally attend the programme, the programme also welcomes young males.

Today, Friday 12 June, is graduation day for Cohort #30 of the Passport2Success programme. This cohort was one of many firsts. Started 28 January 2020, it was the cohort:

  • that experienced the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked the island;
  • heard the announcement of and prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • sheltered-in-place and observed the island's quarantine measures put in place for its citizens;
  • first to be instructed and learn via the Zoom platform;
  • to first graduate via Zoom.

Their dedication and drive to overcome adversity, openness to change and determination to complete the progamme have been exemplary.

I say 'congratulations and best wishes' to Jarid Bodden, Delecia Brown, Isaiah Cornwall, Jada Dixon, Dazhawn Godet-McField, Leah Forbes, Tariah Lemay-Nottage, Motishia Mothen, Sabriya Seymour and Tristan Watler.

These ten young people will be looking for employment opportunities in administration, construction, retail, utility infrastructure and travel. Hiring these young people will give them the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge they have learned and grow the local economy.

Young persons who wish to participate in the programme can do so when the next cohort starts - 22 June. Deadline for applications is 16 June. For information, email: WORC Training, call: Dianne Conolly at 925-7230 or Paul Puckering at 925-5827.

Sidebar: Governor Shares CIG Initiative to Help Vulnerable

Another 599 tests were reported on today and one positive result. I want to send my huge thanks to Angela at the HSA lab and her team. When we look back at this time in the future, I think testing will be one of the outstanding successes of our response. Angela and her team, with Doctors Hospital and Health City, have played a crucial part. I want to send my best wishes to the person who has been admitted to hospital but only one positive result again underlines that our strategy is working. I believe we are on track to significantly ease the remaining restrictions from 21 June. We will give more information in due course. In meantime we must not let down our guard - we must keep doing social distancing, basic hygiene and wearing masks.

The DG and his senior leadership team are launching a new initiative next week: CIG Cares Community Support. This will give civil servants the opportunity to support vulnerable communities by donating either a regular sum every month or a one-off donation from their pay packet to support Cayman's vulnerable communities. The NAU is supporting 3000 Caymanian families and getting 60 new requests for assistance every day and provides meal and grocery vouchers, meals on wheels services and burial cost assistance. So if you're a civil servant and want to contribute look out for more information next week. A great idea and wholly in keeping with the civil service mission to make the lives of those we serve better.

The BA flight arrived yesterday with 100 people on board but in total 300 passengers left the UK and thanks to the Cayman Islands Government were all able to return to their homes in TCI, BVI, The Bahamas and Cayman. Great regional cooperation and Cayman supporting its neighbours. The flight is due to leave at 4pm today and there will be 278 people on board.

Planning is in the very early stages for students who need to return to the UK for school/university. At the moment we are thinking of two flights, one towards the end of July and another later in August but we will provide more information very soon.

For those who go to school or university in the US or Canada, the process will be handled by the Ministry of Employment/Border Control and CBC. But wherever your destination, please do ensure you are registered on the travel website: www.explore.gov.ky/travel.

Negotiations continue with BA and the Indian authorities to get Indian and Nepali communities home. The focus of the negotiations is PPE but we really do hope to be able to provide some positive information very soon.

Yesterday, the Premier and I were impressed by the beach exercise carried out by the crew and crisis troop on board RFA Argus. Cayman has extensive expertise in dealing with disaster - HMCI in particular - and provides lots of regional support, but it's good to hear how the ships can support us if needed. Argus will be here for here for another week or so as she's providing support to the RCIPS with helicopter cover. The Royal Engineers on board are also going to be doing some infrastructure work at the Royal Botanical Park during their stay but that will all be done very carefully and with close attention to the restrictions required under Covid19.

I'm pleased to report we have had over 200 applications to join the Cayman Islands Regiment and as the Premier and I have said we are keen for this to be predominantly Caymanian. It's my belief we are building something for Cayman to be proud of. We're looking to have about 60 people in place by the end of August ready to assist before the peak of the hurricane season arrives because disaster management and preparedness will be their key role. The direction it takes after that will be for us to decide but we need to get it started. The UK is funding equipment including uniforms and will be sending a small training team to Cayman in July to provide the reservists with their initial training course. If you would like to apply please go to https://www.exploregov.ky/ciregiment and click on apply to join. Deadline is 21 June.

Monday is a public holiday in honour of the Queen's birthday. Sadly we won't be holding a parade or a reception due to Covid19 but CIGTV are going to re-broadcast film from the 1994 Royal visit which I'm really looking forward to watching. It's on channel 3 on C3, channel 103 on Flow and channel 20 on Logic and here are the times: 6pm and 9.30pm tonight (Friday), 8pm on Saturday, 9pm Sunday and 8pm on Bank Holiday Monday.

I will also be out and about with the DG on Bank Holiday Monday delivering Queen's Birthday treats to some of our front-line workers.

GIS

For further information contact: Bina Mani