To open or not to open...further? By how much and how soon?
If so, when and how? Even the ‘why’ is a challenging question in these times?
Will it hinge on the vaccine? If so, when will it be available in Cayman? Which group gets it first; residents - or visitors as a prerequisite? And how will we know who’s been vaccinated?
What about those people who refuse to be vaccinated?
COVID-19 is still on the rampage despite the welcome news that vaccines have been tested, proven and are now being rolled out.
As Cayman and every country around the world yearn to get back to normal, the toll on lives and livelihoods is undeniable.
Cayman might have - so far - escaped the scale of fatalities associated with the pandemic elsewhere.
But recent confirmed cases from people arriving from abroad is a clear link to the risks associated with further opening up the borders.
That raises another question. For how much longer can the Cayman bubble, still not quite ‘hermetically sealed, continue?
It’s already proven with the recent ‘traveller cases’ that the Cayman bubble is porous.
But tightening the bubble any further risks putting a further squeeze on the economy, especially the tourism sector.
A campaign of sorts has already started from within the tourism sector to force a rethink on the current policies of only having the borders partially opened.
But realistically, how much more stringent can the protocols be made, and how much further can they be eased within reason.
The relative recent silence from government, compared to the regularity of updates earlier in the year (we hesitate to say ‘at the height of the pandemic’) gives room - and a rationale - for questions to be asked and demands to be made.
The very survival of many businesses now depends on it.
As the time span of the pandemic drags on despite the encouraging news about vaccines, this brings the ‘lives versus livelihoods/health versus wealth’ debate into even sharper focus.
Caution on the part of government is understandable.
Being risk-averse in such a stressful and uncertain situation has its merits both in government and business thinking.
But with the economy under enormous strain, despite Cayman doing relatively well for now compared to other countries, some clarity of policy - or at least a review and update at this stage seems necessary.
A few months ago the government outlined its ambitious Economic Recovery Plan. Thoughtful as that might have been about the short-term projections at least, it’s now several months on without any clear indication of what’s working and what might need tweaking.
With an election pending and the early campaigning salvos already taking flight, playing its cards close to its chest could very well be a survival strategy for the administration.
But in this crippling environment, the same cannot be said for businesses.
‘Always look on the bright side of life’ and ‘accentuate the positive’ are two well-known refrains.
While we should not refrain from either refrain, such optimism needs to be tempered with a ‘healthy’ dose of realism.
For example, as optimistic as the Cayman Islands Tourism Association’s growth hopes are for 2021 (we say hopes, not outlook or projection), it would be remiss of us as a society if we don’t have the necessary checks, balances, protocols and resources in place to make that happen.
Growth is good for business but we are still in the grips of a deadly global pandemic...which brings us back to the questions we asked at the beginning.
The clock is ticking. It’s time overdue for a rethink.