• For things to stay the same, everything has to change: I have said before that ‘for things to stay the same, everything has to change’. Because a vaccine is some way off, if we want to get back to the life we had, social distancing, basic hygiene and protecting our elderly and vulnerable are big changes we will have to make. If our good progress continues, and with a major ramping up of testing, the signs are good for starting to open up the local economy in the near future.
• Emergency evacuations: It is with great regret that I have to report the Nicaraguan Government has closed its borders and are not accepting any citizens which means the two flights on Saturday have had to be cancelled. It’s incredibly disappointing. I spoke to their Foreign Minister twice this morning to try to persuade him to think again but they believe they need to do this to protect their country. So I feel very sorry for the passengers who were due to fly. The two relevant hotlines are: Work permit holders: call 244 8000 or email email@example.com Residents call 946 0024 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
• Cayman Airways are in the process of getting in touch directly with all the passengers – further information here https://www.caymanairways.com/nicaraguas-border-closure
• BA Air Bridge: I’m happy to report the second British Airways air bridge flight will arrive in Cayman on Tuesday 28th April and will depart back to London via TCI on Wednesday 29th April. This second air bridge flight will bring in extraction kits. More details will be issued on how to book seats. We have yet to work through the cost but I can say there will be a new online booking system which should make the whole process easier. We are also hopeful that we may be able to include pets on the outward journey to London – again more information will be provided shortly.
• UK Security Support Team coming to Cayman: This second air bridge flight will bring a UK security support team of 12 – nine of them from the armed forces and three civilians. They will all go straight into quarantine for the mandatory 14 days. This military-led team will be assisting us with security planning and logistics with regard to COVID-19 but also as we get ready for the hurricane season. They will assess our current security capacity and advise on what areas of additional support might be useful. That could, quite possibly, include a marine capability.
I must emphasize that our current security situation is stable. There are no major concerns but this is a welcome precautionary move and it is also a strong political sign of support from the UK for Cayman and the other OTs.
• Happy 102 Birthday to Ms. Ethel Ebanks: I join the Health Minister Dwayne Seymour and Premier Alden McLaughlin in wishing Ms Ethel Ebanks a happy 102nd birthday.
• Great work by the Civil Service: The civil service remains highly active delivering essential services to our islands. HMCI, 911 personnel, staff from Environmental Health, Waste Collection, legal representatives in the court, department of the Director of Public Prosecution, the Attorney General’s chambers, the NAU, Family Services, officers from the Fire and Prison Services and some from Public Works are designated as essential workers with curfew exemption for carrying out their duties only.
In total there are 1274 civil servants in this category – that’s 31% of civil service numbers. The other two thirds of staff are working from home continuing to perform their usual functions but are also deploying to support other aspects of our crisis response including hotlines and isolation facilities. The 1274 number excludes our 500 uniformed RCIPS officers, CBC and Coastguard who are working hard to secure our borders and the 400 teachers supporting students at home working online. The Civil Service has stepped very well up to support the Cayman Islands ably led by the Deputy Governor. I am very proud of them and they continue to demonstrate a world class civil service in action.