• Lifting Restrictions - This global pandemic is far from over. Almost every country in the world struggling is to contain it. Over 23 million cases worldwide, 800k deaths (which has doubled in 11 weeks), 175k deaths in the US alone and over 10k in Florida. However, we have got ourselves into an excellent place in Cayman. We have, as of now, effectively eliminated the virus from our Islands, one of very few countries that can say that. Our capacity for testing was a game-changer and we have built up our health capacity very effectively. We have followed the science with Dr Lee and his team integral to decision-making.
I strongly support the lifting of so many of the remaining restrictions – making masks optional, no need for physical distancing and gatherings of up to 250 allowed. Reflects the excellent progress we have made and success of the Government’s strategy. Everyone in our community has played their part and everyone deserves praise and thanks for getting us here. Of course, we need to continue to remain vigilant and alert. We need to be ready to re-impose restrictions if that is required.
• Border - As part of learning to live with the virus, I commend the Government and civil service for all the work put in place to plan for the border re-opening, as the Premier has set out.
Details are nearly finalised and will be announced soon. These will likely include testing before arrival and after 5 days here (8 days apart), home isolation, use of technology to monitor an individual’s health for 14 days, technology to monitor movements, physical surveillance and tough fines for not complying, are all part of a carefully considered plan to reduce risk considerably. Great care and attention have gone into this to protect everyone on our Islands, including our most vulnerable and elderly.
• British Airways – On Thursday, a British Airways flight arrived from the UK bringing in around 150 Caymanians, Permanent Residents and work permit holders who will spend two weeks in a Government quarantine facility. On Friday, the final BA airbridge will depart Cayman for London. The flight will be full and is predominantly for students travelling to start school and university in the UK and their families.
I am pleased to announce that we have arranged for British Airways to introduce a regular fortnightly service to London Heathrow. This will be kept under review until a normal service can be resumed.
The new service will enable passengers to book return tickets using http://BA.Com/ and the British Airways reservations system. This will be a commercial operation and will not be managed by the Governor’s Office going forward.
Inbound passengers to Cayman will require written permission from Traveltime to board the flights and BA will be checking permissions at Heathrow. Passengers wishing to travel on an inbound flight should visit www.exploregov.ky/traveltime to apply.
There is no need to apply to Traveltime for outbound flights to London.
The first service will arrive in Cayman on 17 September and depart for London on 18 September. Subsequent flights will operate every 2 weeks. BA is advertising the flights on http://BA.Com/ - Freight services are also available and should be booked via IAG Cargo.
The plan is to use the first flight on 17 September to trial the new inbound passenger procedure which will be in place when the borders reopen. Details on the exact numbers that trial will cover are still being worked through.
• Build back better - Pandemics throughout history have changed the world. I believe this one will impact on climate change. We will have an opportunity to build back better and to build back greener. As the UK hosts COP26 next year in Glasgow, a pivotal moment in the world’s response to climate change, I am talking to the Premier and Minister Seymour about developing a closer Cayman/UK compact setting out where we can cooperate. This once in a century health crisis is a once in a century opportunity to reshape the world our children will inherit. Cayman should be part of that. We shouldn’t waste it.
• Domestic Partnership Bill - I discussed the Domestic Partnership Bill on Radio Cayman’s Talk Today with Raymond Singh. I know this is highly sensitive for many in Cayman. I am doing more media to address many of the public’s concerns, meeting church leaders and pro-LGBT groups. The Bill respects rule of law, ends discrimination against members of our community and protects the institution of marriage. As such it is a difficult but necessary compromise. I appeal to everyone to come together and see it that way. It enables us to meet our legal obligations and move forward as a community.