By Christopher Tobutt
At the Monday 16 March Press conference, Premier, Hon Alden McLaughlin, Minister for Health, Hon Dwayne Seymour, H.E The Governor Martyn Roper, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee updated Cayman’s public on the new developments concerning the coronavirus.
The Premier announced the decision to close the Owen Roberts international Airport and the Charles Kirkconnell international airport to international passenger flights, “For a temporary period of three weeks beginning on Sunday 22 March 2020 at 11.59 PM until Sunday 12 April 2020 at 11.59 PM,” he said.
This time period will continue to be reviewed,” he said. “for all destinations with the exception of the United Kingdom, inbound flights from Thursday 19 March will operate for returning residents only. Outbound flights will operate as usual through Sunday 22nd of March. Flights from the United Kingdom will operate as normal from Sunday 22 March. With immediate effect, any person arriving in the Cayman Islands will be required to isolate for a period of 14 days.
“Flights to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman will be restricted to essential needs and personnel, and for residential travel only,” he said. “Domestic flights between Owen Roberts International Airport and the Charles Kirkconnell airport and the airfield on Little Cayman will continue, and cargo flights into the three airports will also continue. The airport will also remain open for any emergency flights.”
The reason that travel was being restricted between Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac was, Mr. McLaughlin said, to protect the many elderly people on Cayman Brac.
“The government has not taken this decision lightly… to give all persons who are here who wish to leave the opportunity to do so,” Mr. McLaughlin said.
“A Big part of the discussion of ministers with the business community is about how they can help the Government ease the burden loss of jobs loss of income, the decision to close the cruise ports, and the loss of income for tour operators and taxi drivers,” he said.
“We have asked the banks to consider Payment holidays or the waver of loan or mortgage payments I am happy to say they have already considered it, and will proceed on a case-by-case basis.
“I can also say discussions with CUC and Cayman water authority have undertaken not to do any disconnections for 60 to 90 90 days. Please contact the relevant officer to talk about a payment plan,” he said. “The Final thing I want to emphasize is the importance of isolation for persons who think they have the symptoms - you have a moral obligation to withdraw from community activities to protect especially the elderly, and other vulnerable people in the community. Not-isolating in many cases will be the same as imposing on people a death sentence on these people,” he said.
Governor Martyn Roper said: “The Government have taken robust measures and I support these measures fully. Public Health England is supporting us, and as of today we have the ability to test for the virus. I want to support what the premier has said about isolation. If you experience any symptoms coughing, shortness of breath, then self-isolate and try to avoid visitors to your home. We all have a responsibility to people on these islands.”
Minister Seymour reiterated the ban on public gatherings, which, “Excludes hospitals supermarkets pharmacies, but still try to stay six feet apart,” he said.
“I am pleased to see the spirit of Cayman Kindness cannot be extinguished, and there is a call-centre manned by cadets, and the number is 949 6555,” he said, as he used people to avoid ‘fake news,’ and urged them to check on www.gov.ky/coronavirus as an official source of reliable information.