Cayman economy inching open

| 29/05/2020 | 197 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin at Friday’s press briefing

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government has drawn up the next set of curfew orders to replace those that expire this weekend, offering a glimmer of hope that almost all of the lockdown measures put in place to control the spread of COVID-19 could be gone before the end of June. All retail stores and the entire construction sector will open Monday, and a week later restaurants can open outdoor dining. Premier Alden McLaughlin said Friday that the country was moving into the rebuilding stage.

“Our testing results continue to indicate that whilst the virus is still amongst us, because of your efforts and sacrifices we have so far been winning the fight against it,” he said at Friday’s COVID-19 update. These efforts meant that people could “slowly emerge from our homes and to move about and feel a bit safer in doing so”.

Nevertheless, the first easing of restrictions, which will be implemented Monday, is confined to the opening of shops that do not involve close contact, real estate agents and construction, along with the relevant supporting trades.

Public gatherings are still restricted but from Monday everyone will be able to exercise anywhere, including on government walking tracks, any day for up to two hours. The public will also be able to play open air non-contact sports, such as golf and singles tennis, but not doubles.

The hard nighttime curfew will remain in place with just an additional 30 minutes of freedom, starting at 8pm and ending at 4:30am instead of 5am.

But things will change more on 7 June, when outside dining will also be allowed and up to six people from different households will be able to meet and share a table under strict criteria.

The hard curfew will be eased completely during the day on Sundays from 7 June, with the Sunday trading anomaly addressed by allowing everyone to use gas stations and mini-marts on Sundays, regardless of their name. The start time will also be extended in the evenings to 10pm, with food deliveries allowed an additional hour. Outside restaurants will be permitted to open until 9pm, giving people time to get home by 10pm.

However, families and friends will not be allowed to visit each other’s homes, as government moves to allow people to begin gathering in very small groups but only outside. “Our private homes have been, and should continue to be, the safest place for us to be and so gatherings in, or visits to, other households are not permitted,” the premier said.

In relation to exercise- a person will be able on and after 7th June to exercise with five (5) other
persons who are not members of the person’s household up for no more than 2 hours per day,
between the hours of 4:45 am and 9 p.m. This includes engaging in open air non-contact sports,
subject to any conditions which may be imposed by the Competent Authority.

Also from 7 June people will be able to exercise on a beach, swim in the sea and fish from the shoreline on any day.

Many other current restrictions will remain in place over the next three weeks, as well as the daily limited attendance at banks, supermarkets and all shops by name. The premier said all office-based businesses will remain on lockdown, as he encouraged employers, especially in financial services, to keep allowing staff to work from home.

The latest orders remain in place until 21 June, when Cayman can finally expect to drop to level two suppression, which will ease many more restrictions.

However, this will depend on the success of the next three weeks and the continued testing programme to monitor any surge in cases and stop the spread. Government is hoping to test a quarter of the population by the middle of June. Physical distancing, face and hygiene measures, as well as masks will be required to keep people safe, as more and more people interact, McLaughlin said.

“People must remain on their guard,” the premier said, adding that they should carefully consider when to leave home.

“If we continue to have the success we are having to suppress the virus then the plan is for us to move to Level 2 – Low Suppression on 21 June, which will then see a further easing of restrictions and continued expanded provisions under the guidance of the Level 3 mission and, of course, the advice of our medical experts,” McLaughlin stated.

At Level 2, the government expects the risk of the virus will be low enough that there will be an unlocking of high-interaction and high-touch businesses and services, a gradual increase in public gatherings and the return of external childcare in the home.

“I am sure this will come to the relief of many parents and guardians who have been working at home while home-schooling,” he said.

In an effort to support the domestic tourism market, the government may also open up hotels and condos for staycations.

“Over the next few weeks, these and other activities will be reviewed to ensure that when the public health situation permits, we will be ready and able to move forward,” the premier added.

See Friday’s press briefing on CIGTV below and the new regulations on the government’s gazette pages when they are available.

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Category: Business

Comments (197)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If the government doesn’t go into a “conservative mode” of managing the country’s finance…we’re only going to end up with a “national debt”. The government need to take drastic measures of managing the civil service and their spending. Carry out an assessment of employees over 55 to 60 years of age, and their status, and offer them a retirement package. I know of a policeman that retired…went back on contract…has 8 apartments and is still working. Please manage the finances before we get into debt.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Nobody can argue with the fact that it’s a good thing the virus hasn’t caused the death and illness originally feared.

    It’s less certain that the action by government to date has actually caused that success of limiting the virus. However, we’ll never know and at the end of the day, being safe is better than being sorry – up to a point.

    We seem to have reached that point many weeks ago – the point where the news from around the world was that by and large, the fear of Covid19 is misplaced: we were now seeing that originally spikes in deaths were often due to the ventilating of patients which now turns out to be the wrong course of action in most critical patients; we’re also learning and have known for some time now that most people who will succumb to Covid19 are old, or have serious underlying health conditions (known or unknown); and so on. There is a lot more education and information, and covid19 is not the end of times destroyer originally feared.

    The problem is – we are still acting as if it is. And i cannot fathom why.

    Many people will never accept that this virus is NOT the end of times doomsday event they’ve been told repeatedly that it was to be. That’s ok. But many more people are realizing that it’s genuinely nothing that we cannot manage, especially now we know what it is, who it targets, and what it doesn’t like (UV rays for a start).

    We are now at a point where extraordinary frustration is bubbling among society as many of us are facing immediate and medium term financial struggles. Many of us with children are wondering what is the plan for all ages, including uni/college students. Many of us must come out of this curfew state now/yesterday/immediately – its becoming a need, not merely a want.

    We need leadership for the new Covid 19, not the old Covid19 – the old Covid19 of March 2020 was an unknown entity. The Covid19 of June 2020 is well understood and needs to be dealt with by an updated and realistic leadership group – not by those still thinking we could be digging 65,000 graves. We still may be, but they’ll be from economic ruin, not a virus with a mortality rate soon dipping below, yes, regular seasonal flu.

    Mr Premier, re-open this economy and our borders. Our local economy has not got the foundations to finance itself on current population and certainly not based on our current household expenditures. We don’t have to bring in mass tourism, but you absolutely must open the airports to commercial and private travel ASAP. The private travel bring in the wealthy who’ll buy the condos; the commercial travel brings in the high end stayover guests; and it allows the local population to plan their lives again. Trickle down economics and all that.

    Quarantine as currently established is a bit of a nonsense – there are tests out there that give same day results, go buy them. People will tell you they are not reliable – well, neither are the tests we’re currently using, the positives are most likely false positives from residual bits of Covid that’s long gone from being dangerous.

    If we all were to continue safe social distancing and washing our hands, and if the unhealthy stayed out of harms way, we could be flying along as an economy rapidly. Right now, we’re staring at total abyss with the current plan of airport closures until September at least.

    • Anonymous says:

      This 100%. What a well thought out and perfectly articulated post

    • Anonymous says:

      You are right but unfortunately the Premier has now put himself in a corner politically and his pride will not allow him or any of the others to back out. There is a frightening and well understood psychological issue called groupthink which comes about when an authority has no dissenting voices or alternative views and does not engage in critical thinking. It is now pretty clear that is what we have with our government. Rather than listen to alternative points of view they convinced themselves that the only course of action was the draconian restrictions they put in place to save everyone.
      There is now a very good chance that the government will try and wait it out until a vaccine is introduced as politically there is no other option, apart from a climbdown when they have to reopen the borders to visitors. Keeping Cayman isolated while the rest of the world got on with things would be a tragic course of action for many reasons and it will literally destroy our tourism industry and create a crisis of confidence in many other areas, especially in our real estate industry.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If I can work from home, I work from anywhere including a cheaper country, but that also means someone in a cheaper country, say India, can also do my job in India far cheaper…..

  4. Anonymous says:

    Them Americans I see in the streets dont give a hoot about no flu.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Does the government know on May 26th the CDC issued a new report stating of people who actually have full blown Covid19 symptoms the mortality rate is 0.4% (that’s even allowing for their distorted death rates).

    The government needs to rapidly change their message based on updated information and immediately reopen completely and try to restore the islands as best they can and acknowledge the catastrophe they allowed to occur by not staying up to date and acting accordingly.

    People need the right to earn a living, feed their families and children need to be back at school.

    There is no emergency and even the WHO has recently stated people should not be wearing their masks unless caring for someone with symptoms, to my understanding no-one in cayman has symptoms.

    Give the islands back to the people now and help people allay the fear you have propagated for no reason!

  6. Kevin says:

    MY home. MY choice.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I thought the same thing! 4:30am.. wtf? How is this meant to be helpful towards opening up???????

  8. Anonymous says:

    Agreed! 11:33p

  9. Anonymous says:

    Self-reliance – WRONG!! They need income too!!! Mine came one per week. I do not hold that permit so am not required to pay her but if I could afford to I would.
    And when she does come back to my place, I will pay her double for her first visit! I am tidy and look after myself but she is does a much better job. Which is why I pay her for it. ($12 p/h) She may need a raise…

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