Cayman has done a very good job in protecting its people as far as it could from the Covid-19 virus. We’ve got an incredibly high vaccination rate and the public have done an excellent job in abiding by the rules that this pandemic has dictated we live by for the past two and a half years or so.
But now those rules need to be lifted.
The Covid-19 virus is not going away any time soon, so it is something we must learn to live with. This means being particularly careful when we are in the company of elderly and vulnerable people, perhaps wearing a mask when visiting and taking an LFT beforehand to ensure we don’t infect them. However, it is now time for the Cayman Islands to fall in line with major countries of the world, such as America and the UK, and drop the mandate for mask wearing pretty much anywhere you go. It is also time to ditch the need for a negative LFT before travel and to allow unvaccinated people to travel (at their own risk, of course) to the Cayman Islands and, by extension of the dropping of these rules, ditch TravelCayman altogether. (Indeed, this is already happening, as in some stores and restaurants in Cayman there is not a mask in sight – not worn by staff or their customers.)
If we don’t do this, we risk an unsustainably slow return to tourism levels which, quite frankly, will be too late for many small Caymanian-owned businesses, who have only seen a relatively modest uptick in tourism since Cayman lifted its travel ban earlier this year.
Minister for Tourism and Transport Kenneth Bryan says that there will be some significant changes on 30 June to present regulations when those currently in place are due to expire. We say those changes need to be sweeping, for the good of the tourism industry and for the good of the country as a whole.
“It’s important for us as a jurisdiction to stay in line with our main source market – the United States is 80% of our visitation - and we can’t be seen as continuing to have these hurdles in the way for the freedom of travel, so we made some decisions that we think the public will be happy,” he advised, acknowledging that many people are calling for mask mandate removals, stopping the need for negative tests for travel to Cayman and to do away with Travel Cayman approval.
Minister Bryan said Cayman had to make sure that we stay ahead of the game from a tourism perspective. We were falling behind in this regard because other jurisdictions in the region were already welcoming unvaccinated people, which will put Cayman at a disadvantage when it comes to where cruise lines choose to stop and also where stayover visitors choose to vacation.
Let us now ditch these final hurdles to economic growth and move forward as a country, as they have done in the US and the UK. Current recessionary pressures on Cayman’s economy mean this choice is already made up for us: it’s a case of sink or swim.
We encourage our readers to also have their say.
Log on to ctimes.ky and take our online poll
Question: Should COVID regulations be removed?
You can also leave your comment. Results and comments will be published in our Wednesday’s publication.