In an outlook balancing optimism with realism, Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin feels that while the world is entering uncharted territory, Cayman is positioned to weather the storm, at least in the interim.
But he cautions that once this crisis has passed some things may have to be done differently as the world adjusts to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic dislocation it will have caused.
The Government has instituted a series of measures, the cumulative effect intended to mitigate the impact of the disease on community health and the economy.
The ‘lockdown’ is expected to last for an initial three-week period.
The effectiveness of the Government's response to cushion the effect of the outbreak here will be measured in both lives saved and how Cayman moves from lockdown stage to phased economic recovery.
Both pose their own unique set of challenges and the Premier notes that the recovery and readjustment could take longer than might be otherwise expected due to largely to external factors.
He was at the time responding to a direct question from Caymanian Times’ editor Ralph Lewis on what to expect post-Covid-19, especially the medium to long term outlook, after Cayman opens its doors once again.
“Those are the sort of questions that keep me awake every night,” Mr McLaughlin admitted. "This really is a big question.”
He referred to Wuhan in China, the epicentre of the pandemic, where local transmission has been curbed to the extent that “ironically” - as he put it - efforts are now focused on preventing the importation of the virus from outside the country.
It’s a situation Mr McLaughlin said that he is very mindful of in the context of the Cayman Islands.
“The struggle for us is that as soon as we open our doors if the virus is still raging (elsewhere), it will be here again. So we have to really think much longer term than just the three-week lockdown.”
He is confident that the territory’s strong financial position would allow it to weather the storm in the interim.
Premier McLaughlin tempers his outlook by referencing the situation in the United States, the Cayman Island’s main market for imports, tourism and financial services.
“What I see happening in the United States, I don’t see this going away in three to six weeks or even nine weeks.
“The Governor and I have already spoken about it. Cayman Islands government is in a very strong position probably for four months even if we don’t earn another penny, another cent.”
Beyond that Mr McLaughlin said is where the challenge lies.
“I don’t think any country in the world has the answer to what happens beyond that six weeks or two months but we are continuing to grapple with that question.
“We will have to face it at some point, but the whole thing is moving so fast and in ways that you can’t even predict that it’s impossible to sit here today and say precisely what we will do in three week’s time," he opined.
The Premier said he thinks the most likely decision three weeks from now is an extension of the current state.
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