By Lindsey Turnbull
The civil service has been focusing on its reopening plan so that Cayman can safely open on 20 November. Deputy Governor Franz Manderson explained that to do this a special board was set up, made of a cross section of the public service, including chief officers, CEOs and deputies of the statutory authorities, all coming together to deliver the project of reopening the country safely to tourism and to put Cayman into a position where it would not to shut down again.
“We’ve had to co-op people from time to time,” he explained. “There was a time when we were just dealing with evacuation flights, but when we then moved to welcoming tourists, we had to bring our colleagues from the Tourism Department, our colleagues from the Airports Authority, our colleagues from Civil Aviation, working with the private sector, as they are our key partners in this.”
Mr Manderson advised that the Government had tasked the civil service with showing them tangible proof that the civil service was ready for opening, making sure that they had drilled down to solve issues such as bed capacity, dealing with the possibility of the hospital being overwhelmed, looking at how to deal with a tourist getting sick or needing to be flown out, and also looking to ensure that the Cayman Islands was not burdened with the cost of tourists’ healthcare. They also needed to ensure that hotels were ready with their sanitation protocols, and so on.
“They have had to think through all these scenarios to ensure the policies and procedures were in place, very real issues that could arise once we reopen,” he stated. “We have an opportunity to achieve something that very few countries in the world have been able to achieve: to reopen safely and to keep hospitalisations and deaths at a minimum, to keep our people safe.”
Mr Manderson said that once civil servants could relate the possibility of loved ones getting sick, it was much easier to work hard to ensure they were giving the government the best advice possible.
“Once you personalise it and say, I want to give the government the best advice that keeps my mother safe, that keeps my wife safe, that keeps my children safe, that keeps my civil servants safe, when you personalise it, then you know you want to do the very best,” he said.
The government was relying on the civil service because they were elected on the basis that they would open the country safely.
“The very purpose of the civil service is to make the government of the day successful,” he confirmed.
In order to achieve this, the Deputy Governor said people could not work in silos and instead were all working together.
“This was not a civil service thing, this was not a public health thing, this was not a private sector thing; it was all of us working together for that common purpose and I think that’s when we were at our best. No one agency can do it by themselves,” he advised.
Modelling of the types of tourists that were likely to arrive would help format the public health response. Along with modelling received from the UK, local modelling has helped in this regard to ascertain likely hospitalisation and death rates upon opening.
“So, we now have a really good idea as to what we can expect now and when we reopen in terms of statistics in infection levels and hospitalisation levels,” he said.
The collaborative approach they had taken was enabling them to give elected leaders the best advice, so they could make the best decisions for the country, he said.