- Out of 216 test results today, all are negative.
- The limit on numbers in public gatherings including weddings, funerals and sports events as well as on boats has now been increased from 50 to 250 people.
- Mask wearing in public places is no longer required and is optional, barring some cases including on public transportation where it continues to be mandatory.
- The Cayman Islands remain at Level 2 Minimal Suppression as the threat is not zero yet.
- Hookahs, shisha and water pipes continue to be prohibited.
- Scuba and snorkelling equipment rental are now possible, with restrictions.
- Visits to residential care homes continue to be possible, with restrictions.
Grand Cayman (GIS) – At the COVID-19 press conference today, Tuesday, 25 August 2020, Cayman Islands’ leaders announced further easing of restrictions in view of the near negative spread of the disease within the Cayman Islands.
Consequently, social distancing and mask wearing are now optional rather than mandatory under most circumstances, including in business establishments. Masks remain mandatory on public transport, including school vehicles and buses, omnibuses and taxis.
Nightclubs have been open and functioning for over a month now and there have been no surge in COVID 19 cases, all tests continue showing nearly all negative results. “There is no rational public health reason to continue with all of the safety restrictions that still remain,” Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin said.
Yet, the Cayman Islands response level will remain at Level 2 Minimal Suppression since the COVID-19 threat within the islands is not zero and so cannot be declared Level 1 – All Clear until Government is “satisfied that the risk of importing the virus is fully mitigated”.
The principal change announced today is in the number of persons allowed to gather which has been increased from 50 to 250 persons, including on boats. The same goes for spectator sports events.
Additionally, officials announced a pilot programme of monitoring visitors who have homes here, or access to homes here, and plan to stay for longer than two weeks. This starts on 17 September 2020 when the next British Airways flight is scheduled to touch down and will bring in mainly Caymanians, residents and permanent residents.
They also mentioned that the Cayman Islands Government is putting the finishing touches on ways to safely open the borders from 1 October. A new regular fortnightly BA service is to start.
Prayer was led by Pastor Jeff Jefferson.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee reported:
- Out of 216 test results today, all are negative.
- Of a total of 205 positives so far, there are no symptomatic, two are asymptomatic and in isolation, and 202 have recovered.
- There are 147 individuals at government- run isolation facilities.
- There were two calls to the ‘flu line of which one was ‘flu related.
- With 2,402 antibody tests so far, 3.7% of the population have been screened. Of these, 58 were positives giving a positive rate of 2.4%, 37 were known to be positive, six were contacts of previous positives; seven had travel history, and nine had no relevant history of being identified positive.
- Cayman has had a widespread screening campaign which is equivalent to over 50% of the population.
- Mask wearing and social distancing are no longer an absolute requirement but people may still choose to.
- Public Health is now recommending a combined oral/nasal swab as an alternative to the nasopharyngeal swabbing that has been done so far in testing.
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:
- Public gatherings numbers increase from 50 to 250 persons. On boats, the maximum limit is 250 or the boat’s legal capacity, whichever is the lesser. The number of spectators or participants in a sport has also been increased to 250 respectively.
- Persons will no longer have to wear masks, although they may be required in health care and residential home care facilities, prisons or places of detention, airports or other place specified by the Medical Officer of Health.
- In all other public places, an owner or operator cannot refuse persons entry either for wearing a mask, or choosing not to wear a mask.
- At the same time wearing masks or cloth face coverings is mandatory in public buses, taxis, school vehicles and buses, including both passengers and drivers.
- Snorkelling and scuba equipment rentals are now allowed as follows: a) prior to renting shared equipment, the person should register with the Department of Environmental Health; b) ensure that all rental scuba and snorkeling equipment are cleaned each day using an anti-viral agent approved by DEH; c) the same rental equipment is not rented to another customer until three days have elapsed; and d) all written DEH guidelines are complied with.
- Hookah, shisha and water pipes still remain prohibited.
- Regarding border opening, the 1 October phased opening schedule is “still very much in play”. There is a team of people across Government involved in the planning. However, from 17 September a pilot programme will begin to monitor a small number of people who arrive on the BA flight. Protocols for the border opening programme, including monitoring individuals while in home isolation, are being finalised. These include that the participants will take a PCR test at their overseas destination 72 hours prior to departure. If negative, they will travel and be admitted into Cayman after receiving a bio-button which will monitor vitals such as respiration and temperature. They will also get a geofencing device which will reveal if they are exceeding the perimeter of their isolation facility. To ensure monitoring is done properly, the Public Health unit will be enhanced. Based on the results, further refinements will be done to the programme and a second trial will begin on 1 October when the borders initially open in a phased manner to a relatively small number of people. It should be borne in mind that before anyone can enter the Cayman Islands from overseas they must receive the approval of Travel Time.
- School reopening guidelines will be updated to all stakeholders later today.
- Regarding international mail, the USPS, the Cayman Islands Government and Cayman Airways are in negotiations to allow Cayman Airways to transport USPS mail to and from the Cayman Islands. Transportation of USPS mail will commence if negotiations are successful and the necessary security clearances can be obtained.
- Customers are reminded that they can renew their drivers’ and motor vehicle licences at www.dvdl.gov.ky or through www.eservices.gov.ky. DVDL has started emailing processed motor vehicle documents to customers. As such, there is no need to collect documents from DVDL locations. Customers should just print copies and keep them in their motor vehicles.
His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:
- This global pandemic is far from over. Almost every country in the world is struggling to contain it. There have been over 23 million cases worldwide, 800k deaths (which have doubled in 11 weeks), 175k deaths in the US alone and over 10k in Florida.
- The Cayman Islands, as of now, has effectively eliminated the virus from the Islands, one of very few countries that can say that.
- “I strongly support the lifting of so many of the remaining restrictions – making masks optional, no need for physical distancing and gatherings of up to 250 allowed”, all of which reflect the excellent progress made locally. Yet there is need to remain vigilant and alert and be ready to re-impose restrictions if they become required.
- Regarding border re-opening, details nearly finalised and will be announced soon.
- Arrangements with British Airways for the next few months include: a BA flight arrives Thursday, 27 August from the UK bringing in around 150 Caymanians, Permanent Residents and work permit holders who will spend two weeks in a Government quarantine facility. On Friday, the final BA airbridge will depart Cayman for London. The flight will be full and is predominantly for students travelling to start school and university in the UK and their families. “This will be the final air bridge that my office will organise having worked on a total number of eight return air bridge flights. Since the beginning of April, the flights have enabled a multitude of nationalities to travel home, some in desperate need. Over 2,600 passengers have travelled on the air bridges, two of which went to the Philippines and another one to India. We’ve also supported our neighbours by using the flights to help transport passengers to and from TCI, BVI and The Bahamas.”
- New arrangements are: British Airways to introduce a regular fortnightly service to London Heathrow. This will be kept under review until a normal service can be resumed. The new service will enable passengers to book return tickets using BA.Com and the British Airways reservations system. This will be a commercial operation and will not be managed by the Governor’s Office going forward. Inbound passengers to Cayman will require written permission from Traveltime to board the flights and BA will be checking permissions at Heathrow. Passengers wishing to travel on an inbound flight should visit www.exploregov.ky/traveltime to apply. There is no need to apply to Traveltime for outbound flights to London. The first service will arrive in Cayman on 17 September and depart for London on 18 September. Subsequent flights will operate every 2 weeks. BA is advertising the flights on BA.Com – Freight services are also available and should be booked via IAG Cargo. The plan is to use the first flight on 17 September to trial the new inbound passenger procedure which will be in place when the borders open. Details on the exact numbers that trial will cover are still being worked through.
- Regarding vaccines, a lot of hopes remain pinned on developing a vaccine. The UK is at the forefront of that work both to develop a vaccine and supporting international efforts to ensure vaccines are available to all equitably. The UK has undertaken to provide vaccines to the Overseas Territories from its supplies. We are also speaking to PAHO (WHO for the Americas) to be part of their scheme for provision of vaccines.
- Pandemics throughout history have changed the world, I believe this one will have an impact on climate change. We will have an opportunity to build back better and to build back greener. “As the UK hosts COP26 next year in Glasgow, a pivotal moment in the world’s response to climate change, I am talking to the Premier and Minister Seymour about developing a closer Cayman/UK compact setting out where we can cooperate. This once in a century health crisis is a once in a century opportunity to reshape the world our children will inherit. Cayman should be part of that. We shouldn’t waste it.”
Health Minister Hon. Dwayne Seymour said:
- Starting 1 September, free COVID 19 testing will be available at the old ‘flu clinic but only by appointment so no walk-ins allowed. Visit www.hsa.ky/appointment to get an appointment.
- Regarding health insurance premium payment holiday programme, Government is considering requests to support July premiums and a statement will be forthcoming shortly. Though some businesses have reopened, those in the tourism sector are still hurting.