The economic fallout from global concerns in relation to Covid 19/Corona Virus is causing a cascade of business closures across the Grand Cayman.
Many businesses are finding it difficult to keep their doors open after the Islands’ government instituted strict guidelines around how many people can congregate in certain areas in addition to suggesting visitors and residents practice social distancing; (usually a distance of 6 feet between individuals).
The new guidelines come just days after the suspension of cruise ship calls and closing of the Islands’ major airports.
With concerns and fears ratcheting up this week, the government today issued a new set of rules, which will ask for bars, barbers, hair and nail salons and spas.
Royal Palms beach bar on the West Bay Road, announced today that the popular gathering spot would be closing its doors for now.
Additionally, Rugs Oriental, a premium carpet provider on the Island has also closed its doors, with hotels such as the Ritz Carlton, the Kimpton and Comfort Suites all announcing closures. The hotels listed, which are all owned by DART, noted that they would be paying staff their base salaries for now.
The Marriott Hotel and the Holiday Inn in Grand Cayman are also closing, as tourists numbers have plummeted and beaches begin to resemble those of a deserted island paradise.
Several staff members from Holiday Inn indicated they would not be paid. It is currently unclear whether this is the case for Marriott employees.
Amid the announcement that the Owen Roberts International Airport would also be closing for business, both visitor and work permit holders have been clamoring to get back to their home countries.
Logistically, the prospect of some employees not being able to get flights or not being able to afford rent or flights has also caused panic in the expatriate community.
With many permits being cancelled and countries closing their borders the confluence of events is forecasting a ‘perfect storm’ for some.
In today’s CI Government press conference officials noted that repatriation fees collected during the work permit application process would only be remitted in absolutely dire circumstances and that these would have to be proven by employers and employees.
The officials alluded to the possibility of pensions for foreign workers being disbursed, which they said would be discussed as things progress, as legislation would have to be passed to facilitate such a reality.
Meanwhile, some company’s issued statements on Tuesday, 19th March, clarifying misleading reports and rumors.
“Contrary to false rumours being posted on social media, Kirk Freeport has not terminated any employees.
“The only staff who have left have taken a voluntary financial aid package to help them leave the island before the airport closure.
“We continue to keep many stores open and assess the situation each day,” noted a statement from the Islands’ major jewelry retailer.
The National Trust for the Cayman Islands also issued a statement on Tuesday about their offices now being close to the public:
“In an effort to protect our National Trust team and follow protocols advised by CIG, the National Trust has decided to close its office at Dart Park. In addition, we have closed the Mission House and ceased all of our guided tours at the Blue iguana Conservation Facility, the Mastic Trail, Birding Tour and Paradise Discovered and will reassess the situation at the end of the month.”
The organization said it would remain committed to providing content related to the environment, conservation, wildlife and heritage via its social media platforms, newsletter and website.
The Department of Vehicles and Licensing in Grand Cayman is also offering services such as renewals online. However, physical driving exams have been suspended.
Persons are encouraged to check with other service providers in various industries via the internet or by phone to make sure offices are open and to ascertain how to access assistance.