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New regulation for cruise passengers

Front Pages 19 Mar, 2022 Follow News

New regulation for cruise passengers

Changes in the Regulations that govern Cayman’s Covid-19 response come into effect on Monday to pave the way for the first cruise ship passengers to arrive on Cayman's shores for more than two years.

Premier Wayne Panton said in a press conference last Friday that government felt confident in opening up the Islands to cruise passengers once again because the number of Covid cases was in decline and the number of severe cases was also low. The Premier did point out, however, that there there were never any guarantees that Covid would not return possibly in a new strain.

The return of cruise tourism was a critical part of Cayman’s tourism recovery, particularly so for the thousands of Caymanians working in tourism and hundreds of Caymanian-owned business that employed them, he said.

Two regulations in particular would be affected in this phased approach to the reintroduction of cruise tourism. The most important changes were that in order to alight in the Cayman Islands, cruise visitors aged 12 and over must have been vaccinated at least 14 days before cruising. Children under 12 would take the vaccine status of the adult in their group and all crew must be vaccinated.

The Premier confirmed Cayman would not take any Covid positive passengers or crew. At this point Cayman would only be taking about a quarter of the usual volumes of cruise passengers, capping them at 75,000.

At the end of phase one in four weeks’ time, and if PH continued to approve cruises, there would be no capacity restraints on cruise vessels but all health protocols would still continue.

The first ship will be the Disney Magic arriving Monday with about 2,700 passengers on board. The Premier called that a fitting start to the reintroduction of cruise ships because it was a family-orientated ship in keeping with Cayman being a family-orientated destination. He called it a milestone, given that Cayman had not seen a cruise ship in more than two years.

No LFTs for cruise arrivals

The Premier went on to explain that cruise ship passengers will be required to undertake a Covid test prior to embarking on their cruise, however they will not be required to take such a test before they disembark onto Cayman’s shores. This is even though people flying into the Cayman Islands must show a negative LFT or PCR to be allowed to travel to Cayman.

“In terms of the vessels we have chosen to come in in this phase one assessment period, we’ve risk weighted those vessels and we’ve tried to get the highest number of vessels in with the lowest level of risk. The lowest level of risk is presented by those vessels that are making cayman their first stop,” the Premier stated.

There are about 20 to 30 per cent that are in that situation, but not all, he added.

Cayman’s geography means it is not ordinarily the first stop which makes it difficult for the government to insist that it was the first stop. Premier Panton said government had asked the cruise lines to ensure that passengers took a LFT test before they disembarked in Cayman, but said the cruise lines cited the logistical difficulties that would cause them, so they declined.

“At the end of the day, we accepted that this would be difficult for that to happen,” Premier Panton said.

The Premier said it represented a much smaller window of risk because cruise tourists only alight for about five to six hours rather than five days for stayover tourists. In addition, cruise tourists tended to stay in a bubble when going on tours so would not interact that much with the public.

Money available

To ensure that tour operators could get their boats and equipment up to scratch, the government had made available a further $5 million for that purpose. This is in addition to $15 million allocated for the stipend budget.

Other changes to the regulations affected Sister Islands travel. Now, children age under 18 do not need to obtain a PCR or LFT prior to travel if they are unvaccinated and who are accompanied by a person who has been vaccinated.

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