COVID-19 curfew conditions will continue in the Cayman Islands for the next two weeks.
This comes on the recommendation of the Police Commissioner Derek Byrne who said there was still too much of a public risk for the transmission of the virus, despite improved adherence to the regulations.
The existing hard curfew expired at 5am last Friday 17th April and was reinstated the same evening from 7pm.
The extended curfew will be in force until Friday May 1st.
The hard lockdown of all public beaches will remain in effect.
Hon. Premier Alden McLaughlin also credited the public with generally abiding by the restrictions but agreed that conditions were not yet right to relax the measures.
He admitted that “the suppression efforts are working” and while “the restrictions are stringent” it was nevertheless considered prudent to keep them in place for another two weeks pending the launching of “an aggressive program of community-wide testing.”
Mr McLaughlin is of the view that once the testing gets underway “we should be in a very, very good place being able to understand the degree to which the disease has moved through the community.”
He acknowledged that some in the business community might be discouraged by the extended curfew further delaying a resumption of normal business activity.
However, the Premier repeated his conviction that the steps the government is taking are the right steps, adding that these are matters that he “has reflected on long and hard” but remains convinced that “now is not the time to change.”
On the issue of the extension of the curfews, only minor changes will be made to the daytime soft curfew regulations.
Those entail an adjustment to the period allowed for exercise which will now be from 5:15am to 6:45pm, instead of 5am to 7pm.
In order to prevent abuse of the system, and based on police observations, persons will not be allowed to drive their vehicles to go to an area of exercise.
Premier McLaughlin also announced on Thursday that Cabinet has issued a directive to the Cayman Islands Development Bank for a three-month loan repayment holiday for their clients.
Cabinet has also approved that notaries can process documents using virtual technology.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY TO RECONVENE
Virtual technology is also coming into play for the Legislative Assembly.
The Premier McLaughlin said two meetings have been scheduled for next week to address a number of issues pertinent to the current situation in the islands.
Those meetings on Wednesday April 22nd and Thursday April 23rd will be convened virtually.
This follows discussions between with the Leader of the Opposition who has agreed that legislators in attendance will be six from the government benches along with four opposition members.
The meeting on Wednesday will make amendments to the Standing Orders to facilitate a formal virtual sitting of the Assembly.
The substantive sitting on Thursday will have on the Order Paper the election of a new Deputy Speaker, and changes to the Pension Fund, vehicle licensing and immigration.
The proposed amendments to the pension fund are two-fold; a six-month pension contributions holiday and permitting pension account holders access their pension pot to make deductions to meet their financial commitments in the current unusual circumstances.
However, on a question of whether civil servants might be eligible for that facility, Premier McLaughlin was doubtful considering that civil servants are still in receipt of their full salaries during the current operational restrictions.
The session will also consider changes to the traffic laws allowing vehicles to be licensed without a physical inspection.
Proposed amendments to be considered to the immigration laws will allow work-permit holders to continue in employment where their documents might have expired or are awaiting renewal.
There’s been only one additional conformed case of Covid-19, taking the number to 61.
Officials consider an encouraging sign that the measures put in place are having the desired results.