New regulations for travelers
New regulations have come into play on Thursday 20 January which are seeing Cayman now moving into an updated phase five of the border reopening plan.
At a press conference on Thursday, Premier Wayne Panton said these new regulations would ease travel restrictions for children, allowing children who are travelling to take the vaccination status of their parents.
“We are also decreasing quarantine times for all travelers currently required to quarantine. In moving to phase five, this will apply to everyone whether they are visitors or residents and Caymanians,” the Premier said.
Children aged zero to 11 will now take on the vaccination status of the adult they are travelling with. If Caymanian or resident children are travelling unaccompanied and have spent the preceding 14 days in a country that has a vaccination rate of less than 60% for first doses of an approved vaccine, they will now see their quarantine period drop from 14 days down to seven days. Unvaccinated children who are tourists aged zero to 11 will not be allowed to travel to the Cayman Islands unaccompanied, however. Children zero to four will not have to do any testing, while children who are five to 11 will do the same testing regime as adults, the Premier said.
LFT accepted for exit test
Isolation measures will decrease for all securely verifiable passengers who are travelling from countries with less than 60% for first shots from 10 days down to seven days and all unvaccinated travelers will have their quarantine period dropped from 14 days to 10 days. Travelers in quarantine can now exit via a certified lateral flow test and a PCR test is not specifically required though it could be done, the Premier said.
In addition, vaccinated occupants of residences where a traveler is allowed to quarantine will now not be required to quarantine as has been the case in the past, the Premier advised.
“These changes are welcome changes by our community, but particularly welcome by those families who have returned from travel with children and are in quarantine. For families currently in quarantine due to travel, we have made provisions for their release after receiving a certified lateral flow test from a local provider and we’ll have Travel Cayman get in contact with them subsequently to provide the details as to exactly how they are going to be accomplishing that,” the Premier said.
He warned that people should remember for those to whom this applies, people are not free until they have had the test and received the negative result. People should not self-release and that would be a violation of the current regulations and people could face prosecution as a result.
“Our goal is to be equitable in our regulations for families with children unable to get vaccinated. These reductions in quarantine time now align with the reductions to isolation times implemented this past Wednesday by Public Health for our community cases of both those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated,” the Premier said.
Premier Panton said tourism partners had been adamant for a long time that to truly reopen the tourism industry, visitors must be able to bring their children with them under the same vaccination status as their parents, so the changes to the regulations would accomplish this, he said.
Testing between islands
New inter-island policy now required all passengers, regardless of their vaccination status, travelling between the islands to have a negative result on a certified lateral flow test or PCR before travel. These changes have come into place because of the higher numbers seen on the Sister islands of late and protecting the vulnerable communities on Cayman Brac had to be protected, Health Minister Sabrina Turner said.
Given the higher numbers on the Sister Islands, Public Health would be implementing stricter enforcement of isolation and quarantine measures and offering more opportunities for getting a booster.
Gathering limits remain
The regulations that came into place on Thursday did not address gathering limits because Covid was far from over in the Cayman Islands and was still impacting Cayman’s sick and elderly. Gathering rates would remain as they stood, with a total of 100 people able to gather indoors and 250 outdoors.
“Our transmission rate is just still too high,” the Health Minister said, adding that Cayman had to continue to manage risks, especially ‘super spreader’ events where large gatherings took place.
Plans for cruise return
Minister Kenneth Bryan said he would be meeting with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Line Association in February to discuss the cruise safety protocols and other matters relating to the development of cruise tourism. The government’s intention was to move away from mass cruise tourism to higher value cruisers. He would also be taking the opportunity to rebalance the equation when it came to the profits shared between locals and the cruise lines, to ensure local businesses got a better slice of the pie. Minister Bryan said he would be able to give an update as to when cruise passengers would be returning to Cayman after this meeting.