The Hon. Leader of the Opposition, Roy McTaggart, has again appealed to the government to keep the 10-day quarantine requirement for travellers in place instead of reducing it to 5 days.
Mr McTaggart who had previously advocated a September reopening, also said in light of current trends with the pandemic in Cayman and elsewhere, the government should now consider delaying the planned October 14th re-opening of the borders to international airline traffic.
The leader of the Progressives said keeping the 10-day quarantine requirement in place was even more necessary now especially considering the threat posed by the Delta variant of COVID-19 and the emergence of community-spread cases in Cayman.
To date, four such instances have been identified including a primary school student, and recent screening of arriving travellers have also seen a surge in positive test results.
In response the government has been placing a strong emphasis on the vaccination effort.
Mr McTaggart reminded: “In June I spoke out against the introduction of a five-day quarantine because this is insufficient time to ensure that the virus is not transmitted in the community. I believe that the government introduced it to encourage more vaccinations.”
But he went on to state that “given the re-emergence of community spread of the virus, it seems obvious to me that such a short quarantine period should be suspended and that we should revert to a minimum of 10 days for those vaccinated. This will help improve our ability to keep what COVID we have now in check.”
The Progressives leader said his party supports the government’s call for those people not yet vaccinated to come forward and and get inoculated, a policy pursued by his party when it led the previous coalition and coordinated the initial national response to the outbreak of the pandemic.
“I am pleased that we have not forgotten the lessons that we learned last year as we all worked to eliminate COVID 19 from our Islands, that we are already taking precautions to protect our families, ourselves, and the wider community.”
“As I said last week the Opposition stand by the Government in supporting the call for those not vaccinated to come forward and be vaccinated as soon as possible. It was therefore gratifying to see the hundreds that turned out at the vaccination clinics over the last few days. I pray that these increased vaccinations will continue.”
Given the current situation, Mr McTaggart said, “Back in June when the Government and the Opposition proposed specific opening dates, the environment was different. The Delta variant, though a concern, was not understood then to be as dangerous as we now know it to be.”
According to Mr McTaggart, with vaccinations losing some efficacy over time, “there is a great risk that those most vulnerable, including the elderly, who were vaccinated early on will be at risk should we open the borders to tourism next month.”
He is urging that the booster shot programme, which it was announced last week will be available to Cayman, should be implemented as soon as possible.
Concerning the risk to children, the Opposition leaders said was another reason for the government to delay the next phase of the re-opening now planned for October 14th.
The government has said that it is closely monitoring current developments and that the October 14th date is now not ‘hard-wired’ into its re-opening schedule.
The Opposition Leader said, “The decision as to how best to open the border lies with our government. They will receive the best advice and at the end of the day the decision will be theirs. I ask that they consider these points that I have raised in their contemplations.”