By Lindsey Turnbull
The much-anticipated date for reopening of Cayman’s borders has finally been announced – Saturday 20th November. From this date moving forward, Cayman will transition into Phase 4 of its reopening plan, which means vaccinated travellers to the Cayman Islands will not need to quarantine upon arrival. This does mean, however, that children under the age of 12, and anyone travelling with them, will still have to quarantine upon arrival, given that anyone under 12 is not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
At last week’s press conference, the Premier Wayne Panton said they did consider combining the element of Phase 5 which allowed unvaccinated children not to isolate with Phase 4 but the advice centred on the level of risk and how they balanced that to ensure they did not create a situation where Cayman ended up with too much community transmission going on.
“We would love to be able to accommodate children coming with parents who are vaccinated and the children are unvaccinated, but the reality is at the moment it is very difficult for us to ensure that we have that balance right. So, we are keeping that under consideration but it’s not a decision we have made at this point,” he stated.
Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan said that the Ministry and Department of Tourism understood that many stakeholders were concerned about people not having the opportunity to bring their families.
“This is a family destination, as well as there being Caymanians who have their loved ones overseas who may not be old enough to be vaccinated, so we are definitely looking at ways to do that safely, and whether lateral flows can assist with that. Until were certain the safety component has been covered, we can’t move to that stage yet,” Minister Bryan said.
The Premier outlined that to ensure validity of vaccination records, Government would require the electronically viable copy of vaccinations (the QR code) and they would also have a portal through which people could upload their vaccination documentation. Cayman Islands Customs and Border Control will review the submitted vaccination details and they will then issue an approved travel certificate, if they are satisfied.
The CBC will be accepting people from countries that have a vaccination record of 60% through the portal and will only accept secure verification for people coming from countries where the vaccination record is less than 60%, in order for them to qualify for no quarantine.
As the United States has a low vaccine uptake compared to other developed countries (as at 21st October 2021, 66.7% had had one dose and 57.6% had had two doses), yet makes up the largest number of Cayman’s tourists, the question as to whether to allow Americans to be classified as “vaccinated” has been answered by allowing Americans who have had just their first dose to be deemed as vaccinated, according to the Tourism Minister.
like Canada and the United States [where people] are passed through their first dose, and in respect of Johnson and Johnson where its only one dose, they will also be recognised, obviously,” he advised.
Responding to the question as to whether people could now be confident in Cayman sticking to this date for opening, Minister Bryan said that lessons had been learnt from the recent community outbreak.
“All the signals give me comfort to know that were going to be prepared when were open and that we’re doing it in such a measured way that we should never be overwhelmed to cause us to shut down, so therefore that should give industry and business deciders enough confidence to know we don’t want to go back. When we do open were going to stay open,” he said.