Letter to the Hon Premier – Opposition Calls for National Covid 19 Emergency Council
Today I met with my colleagues in the Opposition to discuss the re-emergence of Covid 19 and what has become an issue of national importance. As I have always said, whilst the Opposition has a responsibility to keep the government accountable, we also have a duty to support and assist the government in matters such as this. I have therefore today written to the Hon Premier to offer our support and assistance and make recommendations.
The following is the text of the letter that I have sent to the Premier:
Dear Hon. Premier Panton
These are undoubtedly worrying times, and I know how much you understand that. The recent community spread of the Covid 19 virus is a national public health emergency, and we need to come to grips with it as soon as possible.
We in the Opposition stand ready to assist the government. We have considerable first-hand experience based on our fight with Covid 19 for more than a year. I am therefore writing to you to recommend the following:
1. Immediately institute a National Covid 19 Emergency Council comprising all elected members. As I said, we have considerable experience that would be extremely useful to the country.
2. Mandate the wearing of masks in public places and use sanitizing stations and other public health protocols.
3. Immediately begin testing those working on the front lines, including banks, supermarkets, retail stores, medical staff, and teachers. We urgently need to determine how widespread the current community spread of the virus is.
4. Return to a 14-day quarantine for anyone who has travelled overseas, regardless of their vaccination status. As I have been saying since June, a five-day quarantine is far too short a period to keep the infection out of the community.
5. We should postpone the planned re-opening on October 14th. The re-emergence of Covid in the community before re-opening should also be taken into consideration. The situation has changed considerably since you and I put forward a date for re-opening the border. The reemergence of Covid in the community should be considered.
6. As I have been urging, we also need to get a vaccination booster programme in place, to further protect the elderly and vulnerable as a matter of urgency. Just this morning, an older gentleman that I know expressed his concern about wanting a booster as he was one of the first to get vaccinated. He is one amongst many.
7. And as I have also previously mentioned, we should immediately review all the processes and protocols we have put in place to keep us safe from Covid – including border checks and the quarantine process.
8. Re-instate the GPS wristbands and strict monitoring for those quarantining at home.
We have not only the health of our people to consider but also the health of the local business we now have. A lockdown or strict social distancing protocols will significantly adversely affect local businesses, so we need to do everything we can before considering this option. A lockdown would be fatal for many local businesses that are struggling to survive. It would also inflict considerable hardship on our people, including their mental health.
We certainly understand very well the negative impact to tourism by remaining closed. But given the changed circumstances, not only do we need to give ourselves the best chance of having a successful re-opening, but we also need to ensure that our processes and people are prepared and as safe as we can make them. We do not need to re-open only to close down again.
We are at a crossroads, and much will depend on how we navigate from here. I hope that you will seriously consider the above. We in the Opposition are prepared to assist.
The Letter ends.
I am hopeful that our offer is accepted, or, at a minimum, that our recommendations are listened to and taken on board.
We are indeed at a crossroads, and I pray that God continues to protect us and bless our Cayman Islands.
Submitted by: Roy McTaggart – Leader of the Opposition