By MLA Ezzard Miller, North Side MLA
As the world grapples with the rapidly spreading Coronavirus, I am only too conscious of the impact this health emergency is already having on our Cayman Islands. I am particularly concerned for the business sector, especially for small businesses and their employees.
To small business owners, I assure you that I am very mindful that the Government shut down is placing tremendous strain on your business, its finances, and your employees.
I therefore wholeheartedly support Government’s contemplation of a relief package.
While I am confident, however, that the Government will be as generous in its aid package as the Islands’ finances allow, we are all in this together and each must do our part.
To big business, I appeal to you to put the country and its people first.
In keeping with the Caymanian tradition of altruism, I encourage you to rise above the letter of the law and to avoid enforcing sick leave or vacation, and to continue paying employees for as long as you can.
I hope, too, that all sectors of business and commerce will continue to devise creative arrangements for work to continue out of office or off site where there is reduced risk of exposure to the current health threat.
In particular, if you operate a business that has work permit holders, please remember that you are responsible for their being in Cayman and that your employees have contributed to your business’s profitability.
That makes employers duty bound, legally and morally, to treat employees fairly and humanely.
I especially encourage you to be mindful of your employees’ living conditions.
As the permit holder and as a public-spirited leader in the community, I know you will take seriously your responsibility to do whatever you can to alleviate living conditions that may place your employees’ health at further risk.
To all employees: I encourage you to be considerate in your expectations from your employer.
Beyond the business side of this unfortunate and serious health risk, every one of us should take careful note of Government’s instructions and health care professionals’ advice, especially with regard to self-quarantining.
The Cayman Islands now has two confirmed cases only (traced to an imported case), and there is no sign so far of community spread. This says much about the effectiveness of the measures taken by Government and its health care leadership.
But we must individually do our part. We each have a responsibility to protect ourselves and our families, and our wider communities.
If and when we may have to venture from the security of our homes, please limit those excursions to essential activities, and be ever mindful of maintaining social distancing of six to ten feet.
We will thereby contribute to maintaining the population’s health beyond our own households.
Importantly, also, we will each contribute to the optional functioning of our health professionals and our health facilities with its limited resources.
I urge that you take a moment, too, to be thoughtful about the health and wellbeing of others in our other essential services — our government frontline staff at the courts, the RCIPS, Fire Station, the Prisons, and the communications services, among many others. Please be especially considerate of the staff of the supermarkets that are continuing to serve us so heroically, as well as gas stations, pharmacies, and others.
The continued stability and steadiness of all these public and private essential services can only be maintained if each of us continues to be diligent in our responsibility to reduce any potential for the spread of this dangerous virus.
Indeed, let us continue to be concerned about and to pray for the health and wellbeing of all within these Islands and beyond our shores, as we all face this global threat.
Finally, I commend to you the very effective slogan “Catch it, Trash it, and Wash it”.
Let us do all we can do to maintain our health, our families’ and that of our communities.
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