We must prepare for reopening our borders

| 20/09/2021 | 187 Comments

Troy Leacock writes: We weren’t ready to open our borders last week but we can be long before the end of the year. I’m a tourism business owner and operator, absolutely crushed by the border closure. I’m desperate for a safe reopening of our borders so I can start making a living again. Yes, to start making profits so I can pay my health insurance, repair my car, pay my strata fees — ordinary things that most take for granted.

A week ago I thought we were ready to reopen our borders on 14th October. But we weren’t. I don’t mean that our health services or our vaccination rate or the risk to our children made us unready. We quite simply weren’t ready mentally as a society to calmly and systematically cope with cases of COVID in our community, institutions and businesses. And that’s not surprising. While other countries have learned to deal with COVID, we have lived as if COVID doesn’t exist. And for us it didn’t, until last week.

To be ready for reopening our borders, we needed to re-enter the world of COVID. And now we have, or rather COVID has re-entered our world. The concern I now have is that we will spend the next few months trying to do what we did last year, creating a COVID-free bubble so we can once again pretend that COVID doesn’t exist.

Now that we have been rudely awoken by COVID cases, instead of pulling the blanket over our heads and trying to go back to sleep, we need to rub the sleep out of our eyes and get up and face the world.

Now is the time to document and communicate the safety protocols and procedures for every type of institution and business. Now is the time to strengthen our quarantine system and enforcement. Now is the time to implement vaccination mandates for employees of schools, heath services, ports and uniformed workers. Now is the time to implement widespread rapid testing in every household.

Now is the time to give vaccination boosters to our over 50s. Now is the time to drive our vaccination rate not just to 80% but to 90% of our population (and I don’t mean the 71,100 high end of estimate range but the actual ESO estimate of 66,000). Now is the time for the government and industry to stop pointing fingers and work together, every single minute of every single day.

The recent outbreak has exposed our lack of readiness. But that doesn’t justify a knee jerk reaction to indefinitely delay reopening. Everything that we need to do can be accomplished in the next two months. Not being open for the Christmas period means thousands of visitor cancellations and refunds and a loss of revenue in the order of $100 million.

The thousands of Caymanian employees and business owners who have suffered terribly for the past 18 months deserve a real effort by government and society to reopen safely. Government should set a Phase 4 date for 1st December and we all do what we should have done over the past two months, get ready for reopening.

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Comments (187)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Another post referred to the tragic and increasing number of deaths in Bermuda as a result of no quarantine as well as the high number of people in hospital and in ICU.

    There is another aspect that is also a tragedy as their education Ministry posted yesterday –

    “The Ministry and Department of Education reminds parents and guardians that all public schools are continuing with remote learning until further notice…”

    • Anonymous says:

      In an article that I read in the Royal Gazette (Bermuda’s newspaper) it clearly stated the issue was covid numbers with the unvaccinated.

      • Anonymous says:

        We have thousands of unvaccinated children and adults as well.

        • Anonymous says:

          Can you point out how many children were hospitalized? You know, since there at risk like you insinuate.

          • Anonymous says:

            Apparently Bermuda understands the risk as they are continuing with distance learning (schools closed).

        • Anonymous says:

          Oh for goodness sake! Do you not realize by now that children are not at risk?

          Over 95% of adults that are in higher risk category (meaning they are older) are vaccinated.

          Anyone who doesn’t want to vaccinate must accept the consequences of their decision at this point.

  2. Anonymous says:

    How many incoming tourists, and how many dollars per tourist is government expecting per month following the ending of quarantine? How many dollars per death is government expecting? How much in additional health care costs is government expecting per month following the ending of quarantine?

    Give us the numbers that government is using in its assumptions and how those numbers are derived so that the people can see for themselves without all of the vitriol and random speculation.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The advocates of opening assume that if we open the borders the tourists will come and magically Covid can be controlled despite the fact that countries with similar vaccination rates are badly affected after opening.

    Is it not just as likely that after opening Covid is let loose but few tourists come meaning that people will die while no businesses are saved.

    Has anyone in government done scenario analysis using the various assumptions? – they can look it up if necessary.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What thousands of Caymanians employees!?!?

    I would like that list to be made public…This really is the “Big Lie”!

    There are not thousands of Caymanians in the Hospitality Industry. I have been in the in the Hospitality Industry for 30 years (still at present) and don’t see a slimmer of anecdotal evidence to support this claim (It’s as ridiculous as the claim there’s 400 local farmers ELIGIBLE for a CIG stipend.

    Anyways, back to the topic…

    The tourism model could morph (in the interim) to be more of a boutique than a mass tourism model. This model could endure until there are other game changers in the war on covid.Faster accurate testing, anti-viral drugs, vaccine for kids approval.
    Remember how rapid vaccines were developed?

    CIG could/should promote the island as a covid free destination (after doing a purge of this small outbreak), this could keep a lot of the non-tourist dependent businesses thriving like they have been for the past 14 months.
    Of course this requires travelers to quarantine!
    Covid rampant in the community has a psychological effect that may not be a considered component of the Stage 4 reopening plan.People staying home.

    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent post!

    • Anonymous says:

      When I look at the Covid counter for Cayman Island, just like I do anywhere else I plan to travel, I see 57 active cases currently and a total of 792 cases & 2 deaths. No matter how you spin the “ Covid free”, the Covid count tells me what I need to see.

      When I make travel plans for my family, I’m not looking for “ Covid free” because I wouldn’t believe that for a minute. I’m looking for the ease of Covid protocol entry, no quarantine, acceptance of our CDC vaccination card as we are all vaccinated since last March. We are not concerned about wearing masks or social distancing as we are quite custom to doing so in situations when needed. Also looking for a welcoming island with relative low crime rate.

      • Anonymous says:

        Just curious: Specifically, what countries have you and your family traveled to or plan to travel to that meet your criteria? When are you planning to, or when did you travel there? What are or were the entry criteria and social edicts in place relative to Covid precautions?

        • Anonymous says:

          Family has traveled to T&C, Bermuda,Mexico, Florida and Vegas since Covid. I have not had time off to travel, but will have 7 days off in December.
          Currently, my family is/ was planning on traveling to GC for the Christmas holiday- NY ( sans quarantine), but now are looking into the BVI or T&C if GC is definitely out. We are waiting till Oct.14 to see where things stand. We have been traveling to GC for many, many years.
          The entry requirements that we are looking for is 100% no quarantine. The reason is we only have one week to travel. A Covid test before and or when landing is fine because it is possible to do and does not take days away from holiday.Wherever we travel needs to accept our CDC card as we are vaccinated, but our state does not do digital format. We can’t go anywhere that won’t accept the CDC card.
          Btw- we are all getting booster shots in the next few weeks. Masks are no problem as we all have jobs where we wear them, so we are quite used to them. We are looking to get out of the cold weather in December and enjoy a nice beach & sunny weather.

  5. anon says:

    United airlines now cancelled up to 11th Feb
    Thats American – New year and Southwest 10th March. more to follow.
    people will leave in vast amounts now to gain their freedom which they can do anywhere apart from Cayman

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