Phase 5 of border reopening takes immediate effect

| 20/01/2022 | 223 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Wayne Panton at Thursday’s press briefing

(CNS): The quarantine and isolation misery will be over early for more than 500 people who are currently locked down because they travelled with unvaccinated children, as new regulations moving Cayman into Phase 5 of its border reopening plan come into effect. The new rules allow children travelling with adults to be assigned the COVID-19 vaccination status of their parents and enable them to move to a seven-day lateral flow testing regime.

While vaccinated parents can now travel to Cayman with unvaccinated kids and follow the three-test regime over the shortened period of seven days, locals wanting to travel to the Sister Islands will now need to get a negative certified LFT before they get on the plane, regardless of their vaccination status, including people travelling this holiday weekend.

Speaking at the first press briefing for 2022, Premier Wayne Panton revealed the requirement for people travelling to Cayman Brac or Little Cayman to take the tests as one of a number of measures being introduced to protect the elderly and more vulnerable population on the Brac, where there has been an increase in cases.

However, despite the premier’s concerns about the spread of the virus there, Public Health officials failed to reveal the number of active cases of COVID-19 currently on the Sister Islands or the number of people who have been hospitalised, in addition to the education minister who was airlifted from the Brac to the hospital in George Town on Thursday afternoon.

However, Interim Chief Medical Officer Dr Autilia Newton did confirm that over the last week or so there has been a significant increase in hospitalisations across all three islands. She also confirmed that there are currently 17 patients in hospital as a result of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the new regulations relating to travellers and visitors comes into effect immediately and Travel Cayman will be organising a drive-through lateral flow exit test service for all eligible families tomorrow.

All vaccinated travellers currently in isolation with their children will now be eligible to move to a seven-day testing regime, where kids five and over will also need to be tested. Families where parents are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated will now only be required to isolate for ten days and can also take a certified LFT rather than a PCR to exit quarantine.

The regulations outlining the changes for travellers are expected to be published on the government gazette this evening. Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan said that the new rules, coupled with the anticipated increase in airlift with the return of a number of US-based airlines, set the stage for an increase in visitors and hopes for a surge in bookings to the islands for Spring Break and Easter.

Panton said that government was doing its best to balance livelihoods and lives with the new rules. He said that the social distancing measures, mask-wearing and other protocols were working to curb the spread of the virus. This and the level of vaccination across the country allowed for the move to Phase 5.

But in the same breath he raised concerns about the significant level of transmission and infection and noted that only around 30% of the population has had a booster shot.

Asked about how government is measuring the success of the protocols being used to combat the virus, giving it the confidence to move to the next phase, Panton pointed to the low number of both hospitalisations and deaths, even though Cayman has seen a sharp increase in hospital numbers this week and is believed to have recorded unprecedented numbers of cases every day.

He said the government continues to balance health and the economy and it was continually learning new ways to live with the virus. Panton warned that COVID-19 would be with us for some time to come and the challenges of unlocking the country had to be managed.

While there was some reprieve for travellers, challenges remain for those who are positive as a result of the widespread community transmission. There was very little comfort on offer regarding the way that the testing regime for community positive cases and isolation is being managed.

Medical officer of Health Dr Samuel Williams-Rodriguez said that Public Health was considering some changes to improve the delays that people are suffering in getting PCR test results for both the start and finish of isolation.

Even though Omicron is now the dominant variant, there are no differences in the protocol regime for any of the SARS-CoV-2 strains and they still require a PCR test to confirm a home LFT positive result. He spoke of a need to retain the requisite PCR tests to compare those on exit from those on entering to make sure the person’s viral load is falling. He said the first PCR test gives the baseline number.

Dr Williams-Rodriguez accepted that there were some problems with the testing service and the large number of people attending. As a result, more drive-through testing was going to be introduced, starting tomorrow, he said.

And while the isolation period has been cut by three days, the turnaround time on results for exit testing could still be impacted by issues relating to unclear readings on samples, which means that even with the reduced quarantine times, people can still be in isolation for extended periods, he said.

Allowing people to be released from quarantine with a certified lateral flow test is being considered, but the regulations currently require a PCR test.

“We understand that it is frustrating to be in isolation or quarantine for a long period of time but… our priority is the safety of the population and we won’t release anyone who potentially can be a risk to the public,” he said.

Dr Williams-Rodriguez also confirmed that, going forward, the data will be between five and ten days behind and he was not able to tell the people the number of cases reported any day this week or the number of active cases, though it is estimated to be well in excess of 4,000 people.

He said this was in line with international standards, despite the fact that most countries still report timely daily figures within 24 to 48 hours.

See the full press briefing below on CIGTV below:


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Category: Health, Local News, Medical, Travel

Comments (223)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Keeping following the UK and Boris the liar very foolish self preservation scheme and how see how it ends Wayne ?

  2. Anonymous says:

    At the end of the day, the current government didn’t achieve anything by closing borders or jailing tourists for breaching quarantine but more sick and dead people than ever before let alone the negative impact to the economy (except for politicians, health providers and pharma that made a fortune at the expense of common folks).
    I hate to say this but probably we were happy in past governments and never realized so.

    • Paul says:

      Greetings Cayman from FREE FLORIDA!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Keep in mind it was not this government that closed the borders and jailed tourists but the previous one. This government was not even elected back in early 2020 when this was first happening. Yes they continued most of their policies and changed some of the decisions on when to open. But not all the fault (if you are correct in you assumptions which can be debated) is on this governments watch.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is a great time to introduce some local immigration control policies.
    Urgently needed.
    How about removing the ease and benefits of 6 month permits (no pension fee etc) which facilitate and benefit expats only and discriminate against local workers?
    How about negotiating reciprocal terms for countries ie Jamaica that require visitor visas of us, even our old, young and sick; but their own can visit Cayman freely?
    All sensible small, or big, countries have a policy of Locals First – but here it is Caymanians LAST.
    Fix it!
    It’s past time to say please any more!

    • Anonymous says:

      Because there are not enough caymanians to do the required local jobs with the required qualifications. Fox your third world school and education system and then in a generation your issues wil take care of themselves. In the meantime you need expats to do the top jobs that create the economic growth as most caymanians sadly are not capable.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree. You get to work, pay for everyone else for a change.

    • Anonymous says:

      “let’s build a wall to keep the immigrants out” this constant xenophobia is going to come back to haunt everyone. Once on 2nd gen caymanian gets in parliament they’ll remember how they were treated, remember that

  4. Anonymous says:

    So at what phase do Restaurants and Bars get to open beyond 12 am? Let’s bring tourist to Cayman and keep them in the hotels.

    • Anonymous says:

      And risk further spread of a mutating virus that has the potential to collapse the hospitals

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh get vaccinated and stop whining

      • Anonymous says:

        When exactly is the collapse of the hospital system going to occur? With more than 8% of the population testing as positive- and that’s just the ones that have either been subjected to government testing or have volunteered their results – you would have thought that would have already occurred 🤨. Unless – just a wild thought here – that if you are vaccinated, with 95% of the adult population vaccinated- it’s highly unlikely to put you in hospital. But you go on with your end of days philosophy – who knows you may be right one day.

  5. Anonymous says:

    More deaths than 9/11 every day is pretty mild.

    UPDATE: U.S. reports 3,896 new coronavirus deaths, highest since January 2021

    • Anonymous says:

      They’re unvaccinated mainly tho. That’s their fault if not boosted

    • Anonymous says:

      They are unvaccinated – do some research before you post pointless stats. Impossible to sympathise with unvaccinated deaths.

      • Anonymous says:

        The sentiment that “it’s only those people who will die” should not bring you comfort.

        Putting aside the vacuum of humanity it takes to believe that and to declare it aloud, the societal acceptance of a class who deserves death means that everyone in that society is in danger.

  6. Anonymous says:

    For the people who don’t look past the shores of the islands, Japan reports 54,576 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day increase on record.

    • Anonymous says:

      Who cares about cases? Vaccinated deaths is what matters, you have more chance of catching Covid in cayman than anywhere else… I was shopping down Oxford street and all over Europe for a month in December, 7 negative pcr, negative day 2 and 5 arrival, then positive day 10 here and locked down. Disgraceful. Why should the vaccinated when I have no symptoms and my case number is irrelevant isolate to Dave the selfish irrresponsible unvaccinated.

      • Anonymous says:

        Your vaccinated and caught covid?

        Great vaccine you’ve taken

        • Anonymous says:

          You are a bit of an a&$$ aren’t you? No one claims anymore that vaccination stops infection- but however inconvenient for you anti vaxxers it doesn’t seem remarkably efficient at keeping you out of the hospital and the graveyard. But you go ahead – with the infection rates in Cayman this high only a matter of time before you get a personal test on how well not bothering with vaccination works.

      • Anonymous says:

        CASES DO MATTER

    • Anonymous says:

      Cases don’t matter! Vaccinated deaths do, and with omicron they are basically zero

      • Anonymous says:

        Absurd! As cases increase, pressure increases on hospitals. It’s simple math that it’s correlated and if the virus continues to mutate and spread thanks to easing restrictions, it could wreak havoc on our healthcare systems.

    • Anonymous says:

      So what? The UK had the biggest cases on record over Christmas and didn’t increase restrictions and were fully open. Far more chance of catching covid here than anywhere else. Cases don’t matter as Omicron does not kill the boosted. We should never have rules that only support he selfish unvaccinated – if they die that is only their own fault. There is absolutely no valid reason to not be boosted by now and for any restrictions to be in place still.

      • Anonymous says:

        WHO chief says dangerous to assume we’re in the endgame of the pandemic: “The conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge”

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is stupid now. Let’s look at the facts:

    – vaccines available for a year
    – everyone who wants to be is now boosted
    – we should not prioritise protecting unvaxed – they have made their choice and they are the only ones who will die from omicron. Their fault.
    – for the booster pretty much every omicron case is no symptoms and harmless

    So end the exit pcr tests, end the traveler arrival lft day 2, 5 etc. as it’s obvious anyone positive on last one is catching it here not elsewhere. Just leave it on the people to be trusted to isolate if unvaccinated and positive.

    The UK have ended work from home guidance, masks etc. and no where else has these stupid exit pcr tests. The government are acting disgracefully now – imposing March 2020 pre vaccine style rules when for most Covid is no longer a concern.

    • Anonymous says:

      Covid is no longer a concern? Data from the week disagrees.

      Japan reports 54,576 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day increase on record

      U.S. reports 3,896 new coronavirus deaths, highest since January 2021

      India reports 347,254 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day increase since May 2021, and 703 new deaths

      Brazil reports 204,854 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day increase on record

      Germany reports 121,832 new coronavirus cases, by far the biggest one-day increase on record

      France reports 464,769 new coronavirus cases, by far the biggest one-day increase on record

      • Anonymous says:

        Pandemic of the unvaccinated and the vaccinated healthcare workers have to suffer…. As well as anyone else who tries to go to a hospital and it’s overwhelmed by the selfish pricks.

    • Anonymous says:

      Up to 30 people attended birthday party for Boris Johnson during 2020 lockdown when such gatherings were illegal – ITV

  8. Anonymous says:

    Phase 5 is where the cruise ships start coming isn’t it?

  9. Anonymous says:

    In regard to our current situation, here is food for thought:
    It is kinda almost equally divided, the supporters of the Government bench think backbenchers are morons not deserving of being in power. The supporters of the back bench have the same opinion of those now in power. Which means 100% are saying that our politicians are worthless as hell.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The free dumb movement combined with the coming long weekend, means we should see a massive rise in positive cases soon. That is, if the government actually releases the correct data.

    • Anonymous says:

      But who cares about cases? Vaccinated hospital admissions and deaths is the only thing g that matters, and there are none. Cases don’t matter!

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually a rise in cases is important, as it likely increases the number of work absences, school absences, hospitalizations, and possible deaths.

        • Anonymous says:

          You Leary have no understanding of omicron. Look at the uk.. record tripling of case numbers but all restrictions removed as only killing the unvaxed and it hasn’t translated to increased deaths, with the booster omicron is harmless.

    • Anonymous says:

      What ya gonna do..call Virus busters!

    • Anonymous says:

      An increase in deaths from this strain is a lagging indicator as the U.S. reported 3,896 new coronavirus deaths, highest since January 2021

    • Anonymous says:

      Has to be for money that they changed the testing to day 7 for tourists. They have now realized how lucrative it is to test tourists and realize most do not stay past 7 days, so grab their money on a day 7 test, too. Read Cayman compass and it says it is for the tourists if you are staying a week and your flight is not early on that day. 4 tests in GC on a 7 day trip and don’t forget the pretest, so you are testing 5 times to go on a one week trip. How important and how much do you want to spend to go to Cayman Islands just on covid protocols? That will be the question one must ask before booking a trip.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why would anyone choose this island to vacation in over the others in the Carribean with more activities to enjoy anyway?

        Perpetual construction zones, terrible drivers and traffic congestion, average restaurants, and a disappearing beach along the 7 mile corridor.

        • Anonymous says:

          Don’t forget you can easily be shot on the island that bands guns. Or, mugged in front of a dozen people while jogging in its capital city.

  11. Anonymous says:

    WARNING FOR ALL!

    The new Cayman Government Approved AZOVA for home LFT is a JOKE!
    I ordered kits the day the CIG approved them to a US address. They say 48 hour delivery but 9 days later nothing. No tracking number and no test kits.
    No online help response No phone number to help.

    Absolute joke of a company.

    CIG USE eMED!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Heart attack n stress gonna get you first.

      • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

        True Dat! Can you imagine if this person talks as they write?

        Honey! Close the windows! It’s going to rain!

        at work:

        I think this proposal should be reviewed! (throws a chair) There are substantial synergistically integrated inequities!!

  12. Anonymous says:

    No plan Wayne is following no plan Alden’s plan to a T.

    • Anonymous says:

      Er, sorry but Wayne had a plan and is sticking to it. Not sure where you think this is No Plan Wayne. I 100% agree that Alden had no plan. Whenever the question of what they were going to do came up, the PPM looked like deer in the headlights and you could tell they hadn’t thought that bit through yet.
      To his credit Wayne disclosed the plan and has largely stuck to it, which has taken some real courage considering many on his own team have been less supportive.
      The irony here is that Cayman continues to be well behind the curve when many in authority see themselves are being progressive on this issue. The UK has just done away with predeparture testing and will likely do away with all testing for travellers in the near future. We still require travellers to do 4 Covid tests which is really insane when you think about it when we have extensive community transmission.

      • Anonymous says:

        To his credit Wayne disclosed the plan and has largely stuck to it, which has taken some real courage considering many on his own team have been less supportive.
        That comment reveals alot – name the who you believe are the less supportive ones bcos see a brewing again – Speaker of House, one that now looks sickening like him and criminal records after press briefing, same sickly, deceitful smirks… ‘Love Cayman’ Something brewing…

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, Wayne had a plan, it was to follow Alden’s No-Plan.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yep. Both incompetent, both have no clue

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