Businesses still causing curfew trouble

| 01/04/2020 | 216 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin at Wednesday’s press briefing

(CNS): Many business owners are still not heeding the message that, aside from essential workers, the only people who should be working in Cayman at the moment should be doing so at home. Premier Alden McLaughlin expressed his frustrations again on Wednesday that some commercial operations are breaching the COVID-19 curfew conditions and said he was disappointed with the number of requests for exemptions for non-essential workers.

The premier said that with the increase in local cases, which had been expected, he was still hopeful that the transmissions can be contained within households. But he said Cayman was now in a “very dangerous position”.

Speaking at the daily press briefing to update the community on the situation with COVID-19, he dismissed concerns that government was planning another full lockdown and round-the-clock curfew because of the impracticalities. But he warned that government may expand the segregation by name currently applying to supermarkets and banks for all outings to cut the number of people moving about.

Given the current circumstances and confirmed community transmission, he said he was deeply disappointed that many in the business community still don’t get it. McLaughlin said thousands of exemption requests continue to pour in, leaving officials shaking their heads.

He said some businesses just can’t accept that they are not exempt, such as pool and electrical maintenance, where only emergency repairs are considered essential, not general work. “We want to keep as many people at home as we possibly can,” McLaughlin said, pointing out that businesses should be shut unless their people can work from home or are genuinely providing an essential service.

“We are constantly pressured and hammered by the business community about an economic stimulus and getting Cayman back to work,” he said, as he urged people to understand that we are in a public health emergency. The premier stressed that people had to hunker down for several more weeks until they are satisfied this virus has burned itself out.

“Then we can start really… putting people back to work and getting businesses back up and operational. But now, we don’t want you to have employees out working unless they are providing an essential service. We want them to stay home,” the premier repeated, adding that anyone who could should keep working from home.

“Do not make non-essential visits to . Each time you do so you are risking your own health and that of the broader community,” McLaughlin warned.

He said he had heard criticisms that government is doing nothing to look out for the economy, but that was not the case. He said he knew the point will come when “we must grapple with that”, but now it was not business as usual and Cayman was not open for business at all and people should stay home.

Nevertheless, he said he was aware businesses need help and government was working on providing soft loans through the Cayman Islands Development Bank to support small businesses. He also said that government was looking at a pensions payment holiday and even allowing people to access the funds, but that would require legislative changes.

McLaughlin pushed back on criticisms of government from the Chamber of Commerce and other sources that it was not concerned about the economy. He said that was not true but right now the focus was on the health crisis. He asked critics to consider what is happening in the countries that had tried to balance an open economy with the health crisis, and wondered if they really believed that deaths were OK just so long as the economy is still rolling.

He said that we can either focus on funerals or we can focus on keeping people alive. “We are choosing life over economics,” the premier said. “We are always going to put the welfare of the people of this country above the economic welfare of businesses.”

However, McLaughlin made it clear that he was well aware that the economic fallout was going to be bad. He said the Chamber of Commerce estimates that some 11,000 jobs could be lost to COVD-19 was probably an underestimate.

He pointed out that the tourism industry is not coming back anytime soon and those working in that sector will have to bite the bullet and make decisions about their work permit holders. He said government would try to help them leave.

McLaughlin said he was grateful for the financial services sector but warned that the services it provides do not exist in a vacuum. He said that while there was still some movement in that industry, “things have slowed up” and there would be a further slowdown in the work.

He said he planned to have a meeting via Zoom, the online video conferencing platform, with that sector soon to seek their view on where they see the future of offshore services and the work it can still do.


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Category: Business, Economy, Politics

Comments (216)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    They will arrest the offenders.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why does the Premier think that he must limit companies that have zero contact with clients? Shouldn’t we try to let anyone who can work that won’t pose a threat do so in this economy? I hardly see pool people as a threat when they’re not going to spread it. Aren’t grocery stores more of a threat considering people pack in those places and they have employees packed in as well?

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  3. Anon says:

    We need to be able to buy Laptops/Computers if we/our kids need to work remotely. Can Premier please allow office supply stores to have a Cashier & Delivery persons on site so we can call in to order and pay over phone. They can then deliver.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Government choose not to deal with ANY economic fallout. That is their flipping job! You cannot just ignore us! We will not go away! Do your XXX job!

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    • Anonymous says:

      They can ignore you after you’re dead from Covid-19.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You obviously are oblivious to what’s going on.

      Government has chosen to help people over business at this time. They have also said they will help businesses after we get over this.

      How do you expect to run a business with out employees or customers because we are all dead from covid 19?

      Do tell me how this makes sense in your business plan? Do you have one? Guess you live day to day hence why you would sacrifice life for money.

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      • Anonymous says:

        You are suffering from Covid-19 fear. We’d be all much better off if you stopped spewing fear as fact. And, no I’m not suffering from denial. Businessmen have to think of persons beyond themselves.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Spewing fear? Over 1,000 people died yesterday from the virus most in the NYC area. You should be fearful. Trump wasn’t fearful a month ago and did nothing. Don’t pull a Trump.

      • Anonymous says:

        Because we are all dead from COVID? Really? So far of the 22 cases we have had, we have 1 dead, 1 in hospital, 14 recovered, and the others with symptoms that dont require hospitalization. Not saying it can’t get a lot worse, but equally you can’t ignore the fact that sooner or later we will have to leave our houses and open our borders. You say a business can’t run if all it’s employees and customers are dead. Except that’s not going to happen. But equally a business can’t run if it ran out of cash and shut down during an extended lock down. Right now there seems to be no plan beyond just locking everyone down until the incubation period has gone and we have dealt with the cases we have imported from the UK.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I couldnt say it better. People are dropping like flies around the world and I just can’t comprehend what people can’t get inro their thick skulls that “Lives are more important than businesses ” . Try have some sense as common sense goes a longer ways in life than educational sense

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Okay, so I am in violation if I don’t pay my employees. I am in violation if I conduct business to earn money to pay my employees. Wtf do you expect me to do? Tell me! What! I do not get 400k per month if I do not earn it!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. Half my employees families live better than i do in their countries.

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    • Anonymous says:

      If your business brings in 400k a month I think you can take care of your employees with intrest free loans for their essentials for the next few weeks. And should have a could amount leftover.

      That’s what I am trying to do and dont bring in any where near that.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Duh duh duh! it is a reference to the salaries made by ministers. Wow I think we might need to reconsider forced sterilizations.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I know it goes against the culture but please arrest and prosecute all the offenders and don’t punish the ones abiding by the laws.

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