Travel Regulations to be Amended
Following the confirmation of 24 community transmission cases of COVID-19 on Grand Cayman, anyone travelling to the Sister Islands from Grand Cayman who has not been fully vaccinated within the previous 14 days must provide a negative PCR test certificate from an approved laboratory, no more than 48 hours prior to departure.
Inter-island travel from Grand Cayman to the Sister Islands will be remain the same for verifiably vaccinated individuals.
Premier Hon. Wayne Panton announced at a press conference on Friday, 17 September at the Government Administration Building the inter-island travel restrictions, which will go into effect once the revised travel and boating regulations are published early next week.
The increased COVID-19 suppression measures follow the Government’s decision to pause the transition from Phase Three to Phase Four of the Cayman Islands’ border reopening plan earlier this week in the face of renewed community transmission of the virus and increased public concern.
The Islands were scheduled to move to Phase Four, featuring more relaxed border control measures allowing greater numbers of visitors into the country, on 14 October 2021. This schedule changed following confirmation of community spread in two separate clusters of coronavirus infection, one of which affected a local primary school.
The Premier explained, “This pause gives us an opportunity to strengthen some of our controls so that we reduce the likelihood of a surge of COVID-19 cases that puts lives and all commerce at risk. Once we go through this process, Government will have a better sense of the way forward and our citizens may have increased confidence in our local ability to re-join the wider world.”
Premier Panton also emphasised that before the Cayman Islands relaxes controls, Government is seeking to ensure the Islands’ “actual resilience is as robust in tackling the current outbreaks as we have believed them to be”.
He said Government is purposely taking this pause on reopening to ensure “the children are protected, limit the spread of the virus and address fears while examining the way forward”.
Replying to queries, the Premier said while the pause will not be lifted on 14 October, it would be difficult to pin it down to a specific date at this time.
However, he said the situation has been somewhat reassuring with nearly all positive community transmission cases remaining asymptomatic.
The Premier underscored the need for residents to remain calm and be assured that Government is taking the safety of all, but especially that of children and parents, very seriously.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee noted that over 7,000 PCR tests were conducted since last week, with the overwhelming majority testing negative. He said these results highlight the fact that wide-spread vaccinations work in suppressing the disease.
In attendance at the press conference were H.E. Governor Martyn Roper, Premier Panton, Minister of Health Hon. Sabrina Turner and Dr. Lee.
Rev. Godfrey Meghoo of the United Church led prayers at the start.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee said:
- Following a joint Health and Education Ministries decision, George Town Primary School (GTPS) will remain closed until 14 days after the date of the outbreak and all those related to the incidences should remain at home in isolation for the two weeks.
- Over 7,000 PCR tests or some 10% of the CI population have been conducted since last Wednesday. These included cases of concern but also included routine screening covering incoming travellers at the airport, Customs and Border Control agents and supermarket workers, concerned families and a number of institutions across the Islands. All of these have been negative, other than those reported above. This is “exceedingly reassuring news” for the Cayman Islands. It is equally reassuring that there is only one person admitted in hospital.
- The person admitted to hospital out of the 24 community transmission cases is improving, is no longer is running a temperature and has had not required respiratory support throughout admission.
- So, the vaccination is working. There was cause for concern some 10 days ago when the community transmissions emerged but the situation is far more reassuring currently.
- There have been 774 positive cases in the Cayman Islands so far since the disease manifested, with 12 in Cayman Brac and one in Little Cayman. Of the total, there are currently 25 symptomatic people, 27 asymptomatic and 720 recovered.
- Currently, 709 persons are isolating at home.
- Flu calls to the Flu Hotline were 134, with 67 related to respiratory symptoms. There are a number of respiratory type illnesses currently travelling around in the community.
- Of the four community transmission cases from last week, three remain symptomatic and also three of the four remain isolated in their homes.
- Of the George Town Primary School incidences, 17 of the children who have tested positive are from Years 2-6 affecting nine of the 14 classes in the school. Additionally, three adults related who are positive, bringing the GTPS total to 20. Two of the adults and five of the children are currently symptomatic. They are all managing well at home.
- The COVID-19 Clinic at the Health Services Authority is open for testing from 7.30 am to 12 noon, Mondays-Fridays. Those seeking testing are advised to book online at https://www.hsa.ky/appointment/ and take with them a Government issued photo ID and their own mask.
Premier Panton said changes in travelling and boating regulations will come into effect early next week.
- People who have tested negative or who are verifiably vaccinated will be allowed to travel from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac or Little Cayman.
- Anyone who, at least 14 days prior to the date of travel, has not completed an approved vaccine course and wishes to travel to the Sister Islands from Grand Cayman must provide a PCR test no more than 48 hours prior to departure and provide to a customs or border control officer, on arrival, a medical certificate that shows the negative test and that specifies the name and address of the approved laboratory where the test was performed.
- Anyone who arrives in the Sister Islands from Grand Cayman who shows respiratory symptoms or symptoms of the virus will be quarantined until the person is no longer a risk to the public.
- Anyone who has to be quarantined in the Sister Islands after having travelled from Grand Cayman is liable for any costs associated with the quarantine facility unless they are a returning student; provide evidence that the travel was government-related, sporting-event related as part of a national team; for medical purposes; educational purposes; and any person who has responsibility for taking a child or an adult away from the Islands for medical purposes.
- Also, the numbers allowed to ride on boats have been reduced from 500 down to 50 person or to 50% of the legal capacity of vessel, whichever is lesser.
The Governor said:
- The next delivery of 11,000 vaccine doses will arrive from the UK on 27 September. This will be on the first commercial BA flight following the end of the repatriation flights.
- The arriving vaccines can be used for first and second shots as well as for the first phase of boosters for qualifying people who came forward at the beginning of our rollout. HSA will be handling that in their usual effective way. More booster vaccines will be delivered on flights after 27 September as needed.
- All over 50s will be offered a booster, and the small number of immunocompromised people have already been advised to have three, rather than two shots.
- The UK has abolished the green and amber lists and now have only a red list. Cayman is not on the red list. Decisions about what travellers needs to do on entry to the UK from Cayman now depend upon their vaccine status. The UK recognises vaccine certificates from Cayman; so those fully vaccinated here will continue to benefit from no quarantine.
- From 4 October, travellers will no longer need to take a pre-departure test. Until the end of October, they will still need to do a Day Two PCR test but thereafter will only need to take a cheaper lateral flow test. If unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, from 4 October they will have to do 10 days in quarantine on arrival and take PCR tests on days two and eight. They will also still need a pre-departure PCR test.
Minister Turner said:
- She welcomed that many business establishments have implemented Public Health safety measures of mask wearing, hand sanitising and social distancing.
- She urged everyone to make decisions that affect the greater good and adhere to social distancing, wearing masks when in enclosed areas like supermarkets, churches and other crowded places.
- Government emphasises that safely managing COVID-19 is by vaccination, not lockdown, Minister Turner said.
- Vaccines remain highly effective in preventing severe disease. Serious illness results among the unvaccinated.
- In the most recent community spread, the decision for isolations was made for the safety of the people out of an abundance of caution, she added.
The entire proceedings of the press conference can be viewed on the Government YouTube Channel using the link https://youtu.be/X24s17KdNLk .
Submitted by: Cayman Islands Government (CIG)