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Covid travel restrictions lifted

Front Pages 23 Aug, 2022 Follow News

Covid travel restrictions lifted

As from next week Wednesday 24 August 2022, travellers to and within the Cayman Islands will not need to apply to Travel Cayman for a travel declaration or certificate. Neither will people need to be fully vaccinated to come to Cayman, nor will they need to isolate once they arrive. At a press conference, Premier Wayne Panton advised that the government felt it was now safe to eliminate all but a few public health measures. The reasons for lifting the restrictions were largely due to the prevalence of Covid being on the decline globally, he said.

Health Minister Sabrina Turner confirmed this, and said that government was more than comfortable with the constitutional responsibility to make that decision. Also from 24 August, there would be no restrictions on the numbers of people in public gatherings outdoors or indoors on land or on sea, she said.

Mask wearing remained discretionary in churches, restaurants and bars, however mask wearing would remain in place for healthcare facilities, residential homes and prisons. Restrictions on sporting activities and public transport would be lifted and left to the responsibility to the individual, Minister Turner stated.

The Chief Medical Officer Dr Autilia Newton said that vaccinations and boosters had helped to reduce loss of life due to Covid. Government was waiting for the next delivery of the booster from the UK and Cayman would be receiving the Moderna vaccine which also includes protection from the new Omicron strain, alongside the Pfizer vaccine which was being used primarily for first and second vaccinations. Positives should still report and a free PCR is then available to people if they test positive via a LFT.

Isolation for people testing positive would, as from 24 August, be seven days, whether the person was vaccinated or not vaccinated. In addition, there would be no need to test after a period of isolation. Close contacts of positive people could continue to go to work and school, so long as they continued to test negative each day via an LFT. Public Health would be ramping up clinics in anticipation of the autumn spike, the Health Minister said.

The Premier said the government would continue to monitor global trends and would always put the health of the community first and if things changed dramatically they could reimplement any protocols, doing so under advice.

Good news for tourism

Tourism and Transport Minister Kenneth Bryant said he was a “happy Minister” at the announcement. The tourism industry had looked forward to the day for two and a half years when travel restrictions would be lifted. The Minister said he was in full support of these changes, because it had become increasing clear that Cayman was not in step with others when it came to restricting travel to the islands, particularly Cayman’s stance on only accepting vaccinated travellers. Cayman had been finding it hard to compete with similar warm weather countries. The lifting of the restrictions would level the playing field and would present the Cayman Islands in a much more favourable light and improve its competitiveness, he said. It would help make the processing of travelers quicker and easier and would help the tourism industry get back to normal. He was anticipating an increase in traveller arrivals, citing previous increases in visitors as restrictions were lifted in stages.

The Minister said that a destination report had ben produced by the Department of Tourism which showed that stayover arrivals had trended upwards for the first six months of this year, increasing month after month, with 114,000 stayover visitors and 215,000 cruise passengers in total.

The DOT also looked at airlift capacity and compared the numbers that Cayman had now with what it had in 2019. The airlift capacity report projected that in the fourth quarter of this year, Cayman would have 1,253 more airline seats than the island had in the fourth quarter of 2019, or 1% more.

“This is very encouraging news and a sign of the confidence in our destination by international airlines and it gives us reason to believe we can look forward to 2022/2023 season with some bright figures ahead,” Minister Bryan said.

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