Hon. Premier Alden McClaughlin has moved swiftly to allay concerns emerging from some parts of the community over next week’s much anticipated charted British Airways flight.
There has been a feeling of disquiet expressed by some people about the screening of persons due to return to Cayman on that flight.
A number of students, other Caymanian nationals, and Cayman residents living in the UK will be on the inbound charter part of an emergency air bridge set up by the UK for the Overseas Territories.
The flight will come via Bermuda as a number of nationals of that sister territory will also be on board.
Concern has been expressed over the persons on the flight coming from a high-risk country. There have been around 1800 deaths and more than 22,000 cases of COVID-19 to date in the UK.
Seeking to bring some clarity and reassurance to the issue, Premier McLaughlin reminded that the persons coming in on that BA flight are Cayman nationals or persons who have the right of abode in the territory.
“It is very difficult to tell people who have a right to live in the country or people who are citizens of your country that they are not allowed in.”
The Premier said that stringent measures have been put in place to manage their return at this time of global and national public health emergency.
He stressed that anyone arriving in Cayman “will be subject to strict mandatory monitoring by the government in a place other than their home for 14 days.”
“The point I’m making, he said, "is that those persons who are currently isolated (the students) and those who will come, will pose a far less risk to this community that individuals who move about freely, not practicing social distancing and handing together in groups.”
Mr McLauglin also said that residents who disregard the current restrictions “are far more likely to be vectors of COVID-19 than persons who have been isolating or will be isolated for 14 days.”
His Excellency the Governor Martyn Roper, in giving an update on the flight plans on Tuesday, also gave an assurance to residents that adequate measures have been put in place to safeguard the community.
“I think the messaging has helped reassure many people in the community who were concerned about this. I want to repeat again that we’ll do absolutely nothing to put in jeopardy the welfare, well-being and health of people on these islands.”
In additional to those coming in, the flight will also bring a shipment off vital medical supplies from Public Health England to support the ongoing efforts here in the fight against COVID-19.
“That flight is increasingly important for bringing in equipment. It will have UK-funded personal protection equipment on it, it will also have some HSA-ordered equipment on it …and the supermarkets are also looking at bringhhin in some supplies on it.”
Mr Roper said there have also been numerous requests locally from persons who wish to catch the flight out.
The chartered BA flight paid for by the British government will fly to Cayman via Bermuda and will return to the UK via the Bahamas.
The UK government is spending £75 million in chartering flights to airlift British citizens trapped overseas to return to their homes in the UK.
Premier McLaughlin said he expected the local tourism industry to be particularly hard hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said Government was looking into ways of assisting those persons with work permits to return to their home countries as far as practicable.
For some destined for the UK, this could mean getting a seat on the outgoing charted BA flight, while for others it could be in-transit via the UK to their home destinations.
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