As the Cayman Islands begin to shift gears into a more relaxed phase of COVID-19 response, restrictions are beginning to make way for commerce to re-emerge.
Money remittance services are the latest category of businesses to get the green light to operate in a push toward more activity in the Territory.
A release on the Government’s information portal (www.exploregov.ky) read, “Starting on Monday, May 4, 2020, money remittance services will open on Grand Cayman at eight locations, and one location in Cayman Brac, from 6AM to 6PM.”
Persons seeking to send or receive funds may do so from Monday to Saturday on their respective A-Z (last name) days.
All companies operating remittance services have been required to utilize a pre-booking appointment system, which is limited to 15 appointments per cashier, per hour. Each customer must provide a valid confirmation of his/her appointment before completing a transaction.
Individual locations are also required to operate with strict physical distancing measures according to the Public Health Law (Prevention, Control and Suppression of Covid-19) regulations.
Some services at retail locations will utilize separate entrances to ensure adequate crowd control, according to officials.
With Little Cayman and Cayman Brac showing positive signs from control efforts and Little Cayman set for an eventual all clear soon, the Islands’ Premier said there was much to be thankful for at a press conference held on 4th May.
The phased reopening of the Islands’ businesses includes lawn services, mobile car washes, retail delivery and pool maintenance services; among other businesses already back in service such as gas stations, supermarkets, banks and liquor stores.
Several businesses were early in making presentations to the Cayman Islands Government with regards to the essential nature of their services and outlining how they planned to control the flow of people/traffic; successfully proffering their plans for approval.
Up until several weeks ago, Cayman Islands Premier, the Honorable Alden McLaughlin noted that he had not seen such a plan from remittance providers.
The Cayman Islands moved from Level 5 Maximum Suppression to Level 4 High Suppression on Monday 4th May based on an evaluation of risk in the community, including continued low positive covid-19 results, low levels of calls to the flu hotline, and low hospital admittance.
“If all goes well, we hope to move to Level 3 in two weeks when businesses such as home depots and hardware stores will become open to the public like supermarkets, maintaining distancing protocols as required,” noted a high ranking Government Official, who added that this will depend on test results.
Currently, the nation is in a wider testing and screening mode, results of which inform Government's decisions in the moving between suppression levels and the reopening of community and business activities.
The emphasis is still on maintaining social distancing and other ‘shelter at home’ restrictions, according to the Premier, who asked for patience in relation to the non-opening of beaches and non-commercial fishing during the next two weeks.
Hours for retail banks, building societies and credit unions have also been extended by three hours now, being allowed to open from 9 am to 4 pm.
“Right now this will make a huge difference for us because our family can send us money to assist with buying food and being able to survive until we are able to get back to our home country,” noted Mayette Palmer of Nicaragua.
She added that much of the money she had been sending home, will now have to be sent right back so she can take care of living expenses.
Theresa Lagu of the Philippines noted that she is happy the remittence services are back up and running because currently she is still being paid a salary and many of her family members in her country are unable to work due to restrictions there.
“I am still lucky to be getting salary from my employer and now I have the opportunity to get something back to my family,” she remarked.
The move to reopen the remittance services has meant that people can begin to feel more connected with the world around them again in an effort to try to make life as normal as possible during this time.
Those with families or mortgages in other jurisdictions may stand to lose twice in many instances, as much of their livelihood disappears.
With several persons now being essentially stuck in the Cayman Islands after not being able to make it back to their home countries, the matter of remittance has taken on a more central focus.