Coming up to the first full week since the COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed on Grand Cayman, the authorities are already becoming concerned over the abuse they see being exhibited.
The Level 4 regulations came into effect on Monday but already several violations are being noted prompting Police Commissioner Derek Byrne to remark that Grand Cayman seems to have some persons going back to pre-COVID volumes of traffic.
The Commissioner said some persons seem to have a very loose interpretation of the relaxed regulations although strict controls are still in place.
He expressed concern about speeding in particular and reported that police had so far issued close to 600 tickets for a variety of offences mainly speeding and breaking the curfew restrictions.
Commissioner Byrne said the practices of a small group of people are putting the wider community at risk.
“The persons who breach the regulations compromise the safety of persons who comply with the regulations and this matter must be rebalanced,” he stressed.
He also said that in instances where employees are caught without having the necessary exemption documents, their employers will also face prosecution for non-compliance with the regulations.
The Commissioner referred to concerns expressed by Premier Alden McLaughlin earlier in the week about instances where the eased restrictions are being violated especially regarding landscaping businesses overloading their vehicles with workers.
Commenting on the observation of the Commissioner, Premier McLaughlin himself lamented examples of excess speeding on the roads and again warned violators of the risks they pose to themselves and others in the community.
THE BRAC IS BACK... well, almost
With most of those concerns focused on Grand Cayman, Premier McLaughlin announced that restrictions on Cayman Brac were being lifted effective Thursday.
This follows the relaxation of several COVID control measures on Little Cayman earlier this week.
However, unlike Little Cayman where restrictions have been scaled back to Level 2 (moderate suppression), on Cayman Brac the measures are being placed at Level 3 of the 5-level suppression system.
Among other things, that means that there's a limit of 25 persons in group gatherings including churches. Bars are still not allowed to open as yet and visits to care homes are not permitted.
The Sunday hard curfew is lifted but the nighttime curfew remains in place.
However, general movement is allowed and to the delight of the local residents, fishing and other boating activities are allowed to resume - with a limitation of two persons per vessel.
Mr. McLaughlin explained that the repeal of the Level 5 regulations on Cayman Brac will be in place until the end of this month or until half of the population (estimated at around 1,900) is tested negative for COVID-19.
Testing is a crucial factor in the controls which will remain in place as the borders are still closed and travel between the islands is still restricted to approved essential purposes.
Persons wishing to travel to Cayman Brac are required to go through a process of rigid testing and screening before being cleared to enter.
“In practical terms,” the Premier explained, “if you reside in Grand Cayman and wish to travel to Cayman Brac, you will be required to be isolated for a period of two weeks at a location specified by the Medical officer of Health. Following that, you will again be tested for COVID-19 and must receive a negative test for the virus in order to be allowed to travel to The Brac.”
“Upon receiving the negative result you must travel immediately and directly to the airport by a person assigned by the Medical Officer of Health,” he added.
Mr McLaughlin emphasized that these measures are designed to prevent the importation of COVID-19 to Cayman Brac. This is understood to be especially given the island's population profile.
The lifting of the restrictions on Cayman Brace were welcomed by Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell, MLA for Cayman Brac West and Little Cayman.
Mr Kirkconnell who is also the Cayman Islands Tourism Minister said the small independent-minded, fishing-loving community welcomed the news but at the same time “understood the need for balance in fighting COVID-19”.
His views were shared by his colleague MLA for Cayman Brac East and Minister of Education, Juliana O’Connor Connolly.
She said the community whose residents are mainly older and retired persons would be “jubilant and relieved” by the announcement.
LOOKING AHEAD, LOOKING INWARD
Speaking as Minister for Tourism Hon Kirkconnell also stated that as the Cayman Islands eventually move beyond the COVID-19 suppression measures, inward tourism especially ‘staycations’ on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman would be on the frontline to restore business and economic activity.
“Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are extremely good destinations for people of Grand Cayman to come,” he said noting that several properties are already reopening.
“As soon as we can get rid of this awful coronavirus, tremendous opportunities with the domestic travel to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman,” he added.
COVID MEDICAL UPDATE
The Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee in his daily report said of another 76 tests, there were two additional positive results bringing the total to 80. Thirty-five persons have recovered from COVID-19.
Dr Lee had prefaced his report with an appeal for persons in the community to continue to observe safe distancing, hand hygiene and wearing a mask when in public places such as banks, supermarkets and offices.
He also said that steps are being considered to get more tests carried out especially among frontline workers, particularly persons working in the retail sector and other services.