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Front Pages 24 Mar, 2020 Follow News

(L-R) Minister for Health Hon. Dwayne Seymour, Hon. Premier Alden McLaughlin, HE Governor Martyn Roper and Chief Medical Officer Dr John

The Cayman Islands is effectively being placed on lockdown effective Wednesday.

The 9pm to 5am curfew which comes into effect tonight will be extended for an additional three hours on Wednesday from 7pm to 6am.

This comes as the Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee announced that another person has tested positively for the COVID-19 virus bringing the number to 6.

The person is a patient of the Health Services Authority.

As is standard procedure the positive sample will be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for confirmation.

14 samples have returned as negative.

Hon. Premier Alden McLaughlin in announcing the extended curfew said there will be allowances for essential services personnel and workers of companies designated as providing essential services.

Explaining that this is now practically a “lockdown”, he said Cabinet will be meeting today to finalise the regulations governing the current status.

Details are expected later today especially on the definitions of an essential service worker, profession or business in this situation.

Plans call for establishing a competent authority to make such determinations.

The Office of the Attorney General is working out the legal parameters.

But in the interim, the Premier insisted “unless your establishment is essential, you need to shut it down and send your people home."

He said Government will be meeting with the supermarkets concerning their special status.

Restaurants had already been ordered closed except for providing takeout and delivery services, but some details still being worked out on their specific situation.

Cargo services coming into the territory by sea and air will continue although restrictions will be placed on the movement of their crews.

His Excellency, the Governor, Martyn Roper said the objective under the current circumstances is to limit human contact in the public space as far as possible and get thousands of people off the streets.

He said of special concern is the risk posed to the elderly.

In urging the public to cooperate with the police and other law enforcement authorities, Governor Roper said, in addition to police patrols, customs and border agents will be stepping up their vigilance and the helicopter service will also be monitoring movements.

He acknowledged that "the curfew might not be perfect from Day One and will be adjusted as needed."

Deputy Governor, Franz Manderson, advised that the vast majority of government offices are being closed including some which provide key services.

However, for immigration purposes, special consideration is being given to non-nationals whose work permits are on the verge of expiring.

They will not be subjected to any deportation proceedings in a gesture of “good grace” and are advised to stay indoors like everyone else and stay safe.

"I treat this as a war," Premier McLaughlin stated during the mid-morning press briefing.

An update was planned for later today.

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