Premier hammers message: not business as usual

| 07/04/2020 | 59 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin at Monday’s press briefing

(CNS): Constant demands from the community to carry on with “business as usual” are frustrating government in its efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 in the Cayman Islands. Premier Alden McLaughlin said Monday that to save lives there will be hardships and inconveniences, which the public had to face because if the authorities allowed everything that people want, it would expose us all to the rampant spread and the deaths that would follow.

“We are being besieged by requests from every quarter,” McLaughlin said at yesterday’s daily briefing, adding that everyone seems to want things to just go back to business as usual, which would create more opportunities for this virus to spread.

Describing the pressure they are under, he said he sometimes gets so frustrated that he wonders what is the sense of continuing the curfew, as so many people are demanding to go to numerous different stores and access many services. However, the premier said government was considering some kind of delivery or curbside pick up services in some cases.

“But it is not going to be business as usual and we can’t open back every store that people need something from,” McLaughlin added.

Acknowledging that the curfew is going to carry on for quite some time, he said government was looking at how they could make some supplies available to the public with minimal risk.

“We see what is happening at the banks; the situation at the banks is most unsatisfactory, despite our best efforts. A hundred people stretching in a line outside is a recipe for absolute disaster,” the premier warned. “When we try to put limits on the number of people that can be in a place, there is a knock-on effect because of the demand.”

He explained that government is looking at “some sort of delivery or curbside service”.

However, as McLaughlin again hammered home the message of what government is trying to achieve, he said was not possible to accede to every request to allow businesses to open, otherwise “we might as well do away with the curfew”.

“The only way we are going to have a chance of this not becoming an epidemic like it is in New York City, Italy, Spain and the UK is if we are prepared to be patient and put up with the inconveniences that this involves, the hardships in some instances for a few weeks,” he added

People are asking for government to relax everything, the premier noted, as he described the pressure from people wanting to get on with their ordinary lives.

“Getting on with your life the way that you were used to is likely to kill you or someone around you. That is what we are trying to get people to understand,” McLaughlin stated.

The demand for money transfer services to re-open is also continuing to cause problems. The first request from one such service to re-open has been refused because they did not offer a workable solution about how they would manage crowds. The premier said that, given how bad things were at the banks, he was not prepared to allow that to happen at more locations.

Cayman is now well into the community spread of the coronavirus, so the transfer companies will have to demonstrate how they will deal with the potential crowds.

McLaughlin said he was going to look at the situation regarding the postal service and speak with the postmaster general. There have been several concerns that elderly members of the community are not getting pension cheques from overseas and businesses that are still operating either as essential services or remotely are not able to pay each other or their staff.

But the evidence supporting lockdown as a way of preventing rampant and concentrated spread of the disease is strong. While Cayman is now facing some community spread, it is still incremental, and with just two patients in hospital with COVID-19 and only one death associated with the disease, the Health Services Authority has the capacity to cope with the current situation.

It is also still possible to contain the spread in general and allow the virus to burn itself out, giving Cayman a chance to lift some restrictions in a few weeks time. Lifting restrictions too early will result in a surge of cases, too much pressure on the health services and ultimately hundreds of deaths.

The premier said that we must do everything we can to avoid contracting the virus because no one knows how it will impact them or what the outcome will be.

See the press briefing on CIGTV, set to start at the ‘not business as usual’ segment:

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Category: Business, Health, health and safety

Comments (59)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    There are so many Marie Antoinettes out there that I am frankly shocked. Our premier amongst them. There are many many many low wage earners in our economy. Many have little or no access to traditional class A banks. They were left with little or no warning of this pandemic. They are stuck here, they have no money, they need help, not judgement from people who have never gone hungry a day in their lives.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Please CNB!!! Will you open another branch that is more accessible to the working man and customers without transportation! Camana Bay branch is much too small and hard to reach. They are a big bank with many resources and inflicting this kind of hardship on customers is creating problems that could be alleviated by opening the Elgin Ave. branch. One wonder is this is the new owners not caring about this community?

    • Anonymous says:

      Butterfield isn’t any better. Only the Camana bay branch open & cannot deposit pay/pension checks anywhere east of GT.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Our govt ministers are in no peril. They know they have fat cheques coming.

    They put out a couple of crumbs, and expect us to be grateful. No! We need real leadership, not this ‘we cannot deal with the economic problems’ bull crap. It is your job to deal with this. This head in the sand ostrich routine is getting tiresome. And the Joey plan is a complete joke! It excludes any business with any foreign ownership. What a farce.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Work Permit Holders with no jobs need to go home- They sent their money home every month surely they must have something to go home to- They just need to leave

    • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      Not all mate, I’ve been here 10 years and never had any surplus to send back. Spend every penny here, which is tragic when you a) consider comments like yours and b) when the forex rates are so advantageous at the min!!

    • Anonymous says:

      How much do you pay your expat helper?

    • Anonymous says:

      They cannot go home. They are stuck here. And we, as a community must do everything possible to keep everyone safe.

  5. Anonymous says:

    When are 3 grocery store families giving back some of the millions they made over the past decades?
    How about increasing the wages of these people that work their risking their lives?
    They are forced to keep working.

  6. iindie says:

    Please allow the hardware stores to open… I have a fair bit to do around the home and , yes , ended up being pretty creative in subsitutes but there is a limit to what i can come up with in terms of ersatz to keep it all functional and enjoyable. Keep out the contractors and let’s get some bobs and pieces get their fixes around the homes ; I am pretty sure people will largely appreciate ! We keep the liquor stores open why not the hardware ?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Children of Cayman.
    Haggai 2:8
    Did you get any?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Yes Cayman stay home PLEASE. I am a Caymaian and the horror stories I hear first hand from my many friends in North America and Europe brings me to tears just writing this message.

    This is not the time to play deaf, dumb or blind.

    Money can be made again. Losing a love one, friend or colleague is permanent.

    Remember where there is a human need there is money to be had. All of the businesses in the CI will make up for their losses but no money in the world will bring my friend back.


  9. Anonymous says:

    The problem is not that people are asking for things, it’s that the government has no idea how to manage things and run operations at scale.

    Instead of having the cabinet micro manage everything, through the usual network of committees, they need to set objectives, approve resources and budgets, delegate those areas to individuals running teams and hold them accountable for results.

    This is why the government keeps saying “they’re focused on keeping people alive”. They’re so busy micromanaging something they are not experts in they have no time to micromanage all the other things that need done.

    Solution: they shouldn’t be micromanaging anything.

    If government managers can’t be trusted they should never have been put in those roles and need to be replaced.

    It may not be business as usual, but it’s sure as hell government as usual.

    • Anonymous says:

      Be grateful you don’t have a government that shoots people who test positive. Be thankful.

      Our leaders cannot please everyone and this is not about appeasement. I for one am of the view that they are doing a great job with what they have been tasked with. They need our support too. After all they are human beings with families and friends just like me and you.

      • Anonymous says:

        @5:47 I totally agree with you, I think they’re doing their best considering no one has experience in dealing with this kind of crisis.

      • Anonymous says:

        Are we China? Is that what you are suggesting we be grateful for not being? Wow. How fast we have devolved into the lord of the flipping flies.

    • Govt has been wrong-footed with their policy from the start. They are making things up as they go. How many of the 45 positive cases have died, except for the ill person from the cruise ship? None. I support 100% banning cruise ships and air traffic.
      The Govt should focus their policy on protecting the most vulnerable… senior citizens, morbidly obese, certain diabetics and people with underlying health issues. The damage that is being done to the local economy is criminal. There will be businesses that will close for good, ruining the years of effort and sacrifice that owning a small business demands.
      There are many ways to address this… allow additional bank branches to open. Certainly Western-Union et al should be open. If grocery stores can ensure social distancing outside their store they can also do it inside. There are many poor people in Jamaica. Honduras and the Philippines who depend on the small stipend they receive, now more than ever.
      The military police state policies are likely illegal and seem to have quickly turned into a revenue stream with the arbitrary fines.
      By doubling down on an already flawed policy, there well may be social unrest when the Tribunal leaders ban the religious celebration of Easter. They cannot even propose outdoor church services. It’s beyond shameful.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, you idiot at 3:16pm, I’m sure you’d prefer a government that managed this crisis like they’re doing in New York, Italy and Spain! Be damn thankful that you and and your family don’t have COVID19. Ignoramus !

    • Anon says:

      Whilst I support the steps that Alden has initiated and stuck to, and they are hurting me financially I still wonder why the government have not introduced the same furlough program as other countries whereby the government pays for 80% of the salary of those workers furloughed!
      Offering a helping hand with more strings attached than a puppet is not helping the economy!

      • Anonymous says:

        Those countries also charge high income tax. We do not! We do not have money to pay 89% of furloughed workers.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I still can’t understand why all these people have to keep queuing at the bank – what are they doing? There is something very wrong with Cayman’s antiquated banking system that people cannot do everything via internet banking. Do you employers’ still issue cheques? Its pathetic – you don’t see queues in the UK at the bank, so why is it happening here?

    • Anonymous says:

      Apparently you dont realize there are low paid workers here that do not have bank accounts for employers to transfer wages to online. They must take a weekly cheque to the bank every Friday and give the bank a percent to get it cashed. They obviously also have no debit card either so cannot get food from all these food places who will only take card payment, not that they can afford restaurant prepared food anyway !!! Because while that may be a daily routine/afforded expense to you, it is a luxury for many others.

      • Anonymous says:

        Good point, thank you

      • Anonymous says:

        Many low wage earners have no bank account. They must cash their cheques at the issuing bank. Also many businesses pay vendors by cheque. My landlord is at a different bank than mine, so I cannot transfer without a fee. In the past 20 years no big deal. Now it is a issue.

        • Anonymous says:

          As I previously queried, why is there a need for anybody to be rushing to a bank in this day and age?

          There is absolutely no reason why low paid workers do not have bank accounts.
          Equally, pensions should be paid directly into bank accounts.
          Businesses should be paying vendors online.

          Banks – improve internet banking and bring your facilities into the modern world.

          And best idea – do away with cheques altogether!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Ask a person standing in line.
      Some simply refuse to use the electrnic means available even though it costs less. Some businesses even refuse to use the night deposit facility.
      Some probably do not have a bank account so have to go to the bank of the person that gave them a cheque to cash it.
      Small companies seem reluctant to accept e-payments.
      Maybe the problem is the clients not the banks.

    • Anonymous says:

      A lot of people working here dont have bank accounts.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Half cracked stimulus packages rolled out by Joey don’t incite a great deal of confidence that the Govt’s got our back beyond this crisis Mr Premier, – instilling a stronger hope outside of a notion that in real terms demonstrates it still really comes down to every man for him/her self will garner a more positive following.

  12. Anonymous says:

    questions for the premier:
    who many civil servants are at home?
    how many are working from home?
    how many are still on full pay?
    how many have been let go on a temporary basis?

    • Anonymous says:

      Question for you. What do your questions have to with the pandemic at hand?

      • Anonymous says:

        The money it costs to keep civil servants who are not working on full pay directly reduces the amount of money available to do everything else the government wants to do, from buying test kits to providing NAU assistance. Especially when the private sector is not generating the tax revenues that kept the government coffers full.

  13. Anonymous says:

    pure deflection from alden regarding the dire economic crisis most people are going through.
    you have brought in the laws regarding lockdown…now get the lazy overstaffed civil service and police to enforce the laws.

  14. Anonymous says:

    So when will the MLA pay cuts be announced ?

    • Anonymous says:

      around the same time the civil service will be cut…so never.

    • Anonymous says:

      Eden will never give up his double dipping 20k a montb.

      • Anonymous says:

        Mr. Eden puts alot of that money right back into the community. Unlike you I bet.
        You may judge him because you don’t know him but I can certainly tell you through what I have seen alone, over 30+years that he gives back to his community and its people.

        If and when you don’t agree with what he has said or done come back with constructive criticism for him and for us.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Sunday is blissful, nobody out on the road and I can hear the birds chirping. Perhaps instead of calling it lockdown it should be called calmdown. I did my once weekly shopping most things were available. The government guidelines are really not hard to follow. Stay home enjoy the peace.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The primier and Governor, others and front line workers are doing a excellent job, trying to keep all of us safe, we thank them from our hearts and pray God to keep them safe. Now all of us living in these Islands please do.our part and obeying all the rules they put in place to

  17. David Shibli says:

    In an attempt to reduce contact, what is wrong with dividing the populace into 3 sections?

    A-H Monday & Thursday
    I-Q Tuesday & Friday
    R-Z Wednesday & Saturday

    There is no need to shop or go to the bank 3 times a week.
    Please don’t tell my wife this was my idea!

    May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Passover.
    This year, I will have my first ever Passover meal.
    Just as God led His people from Egypt, may He lead us out this year from our sins and yes, from personal experience, they are many.

    God help us.

    • Anonymous says:

      Could not agree more.

      Some quick maths re grocery shopping.

      Average household is around 2.5 persons (per ESO stats).

      That equates to around 24,000 households in Grand Cayman.

      If each household shopped once per week that would be 4,000 shops per day.

      Between the six main grocery stores (Cost u less, Hurley’s, Kirk’s and Fosters x 3) that’s around 650 shops per day.

      If the stores are open from 7 am till 7pm that’s only 54 shoppers per hour.

      So the problem isn’t just people buying too much, it’s people shopping too often.

      If the stores have an average of 200 people at one time, that must mean households are shopping an average of four times per week. And that’s ignoring convenience stores and gas stations.

      This is an easy problem to solve. Follow these two simple rules:

      Rule #1: Shop once per week. No more, no less.

      Rule #2. Buy enough for one week. No more, no less.

      Then we’ll have no lines outside (or inside!), no running out of anything, less crowded stores and less risk of infection.

      Do the right thing Cayman.


    • Anonymous says:

      Agree fully except you need to identify the least used surname letters first before splitting in 3 otherwise you will find a huge disparity of numbers on the various days which makes the exercise of limiting numbers/splitting population less useful.

    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent points except doe the god thing. It is now more than ever clear that their is no god. One of the good things that comes out of this misery.

      • Anonymous says:

        And exactly how is it clear? Are you going to be one of those people that says God should only let good things happen? Please remember when you have it good and not just bad and give thanks. Also remember that many of the bad things that happen are man made! You are most welcome to be an atheist, and it is to be respected, the same way you should respect the believers.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Premier for your sincere apology to the governor. Thank you also for replacing John John with Hew. John John’s incoherent babbling and paper shuffling was doing my head in.

  19. Anonymous says:

    If the UK, US, Italy and Spain are showing us anything, it is that our path, the Cayman path, is the right one to stop people dying in mass numbers. You are seeing that this virus can take anyone from us, young, old, healthy and infirm. I don’t get what people are requesting. Yes there are certain stores I would like to go to for sure, but I am not going to do that, even if they were open, because the more people you meet, the higher the infection and transmission risk, so I sit my backside in my house and stay home as much as possible. I will not die because I cant buy a new pair of flip flops, but I might if I went to a shop where many others go and tried to buy that item. Not worth the risk to me or others.

  20. Anonymous says:

    He’s right and he must be totally exhausted and exasperated. He’s told everyone no bank is going to foreclose on us, no utility will be closed off, and he’s left the supermarkets open. All he wants is for us to stay home, probably for another month. Why can’t we do that? He knows what will happen here if we don’t. Total chaos. Collapsed health care system. Economy gone for years.
    But if we stay home and ‘struggle’ for a little bit, we just may get through.
    Seriously. Stay f*cken home.

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