The curfew announced for the Cayman Islands on Monday has been extended.
It will now be in place effective from Tuesday evening 7pm for ten hours until 5am and will be in force for 10 days initially.
The previously announced curfew was from 9pm to 5am.
Hon. Premier Alden McLaughlin in announcing the extended curfew, said allowances will be made for essential services personnel and workers of companies designated as providing essential services.
“From 6am (Wednesday) all non-essential establishments will be closed,” he declared.
“Persons will be required to shelter in place, meaning stay at home unless you fall into one of the categories of essential workers or unless your establishment, your business qualifies as an essential establishment.”
The Government was meeting on Tuesday to firm up the legal definition of essential services, but much to the consternation of Premier McLaughlin ran into a wave of requests from businesses seeking to be classified under that heading.
PREMIER DISAPPOINTED WITH SOME BUSINESSES
A clearly disappointed Premier McLaughlin questioned if some businesses were putting economics over the lives of their employees and found many of the requests alarming.
“What I am complaining about bitterly is a lack of acceptance that we are in really, really dangerous times and that we have to take radical action.
“We really have to work through this because, as I keep saying, if we can get to ten days without having to deal with significant community spread, we would have achieved a huge, huge victory.”
In appealing to the business sector for their cooperation, he said plans to impose the ‘shelter in place/stay at home’ requirement are being put on hold for the time being with a review pending Wednesday.
Claiming that the message seems not to be getting through some in the private sector, Mr McLaughlin said: “Economic consequences cannot be more important than people’s lives.”
He repeated that “if we succeed we will not only save lives but we will save the country from going into lockdown for months.”
Mr McLaughlin also floated the prospect that if the business sector doesn’t comply, Government might not have any alternative but to impose “a 24/7 curfew”.
He “begged” the business community to “please support what the Government is doing as it’s the right thing to do.”
His Excellency, Governor Martyn Roper threw the weight of his office behind the Premier’s appeal.
He noted that the civil service is playing its part and he urged the private sector to do likewise.
The Hon. Minister of Health, Dwayne Seymour referred to statistics supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international agencies which estimate that the scale of the potential disaster for the Cayman Islands if the drastic steps are not taken to suppress the spread of the COVID-19 virus here.
He said the projected rate of infection was 60% of the population if Government failed in to take the necessary measures.
“This could mean that 800 people in Cayman could die,” Minister Seymour warned, underlining the gravity of the crisis confronting the territory and the rest of the world.
A SIXTH POSITIVE TEST
Earlier Tuesday, Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee had announced that a sixth person had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
The person is a patient of the Health Services Authority.
Several family members and one close contact of the individual have been placed in isolation while further investigations are carried out.
Medical Officer of Health, Director Dr Samuel Williams-Rodriguez said they were looking into the likely mode of infection to determine if it was a community transmission.
If so, it would be Cayman’s first case of community transmission of COVID-19 and would mark a new phase of the pandemic here.
Premier McLaughlin, in repeating his call for the public and the business community to abide by the restrictions Government is putting place said it was almost certain that the virus is within the community.
“We believe this is the best chance this country has of suppressing the community transmission of the virus, and we are taking the step now rather than waiting until there are multiple cases around by which time from what we’ve seen in other countries, it is usually much too late.”
In urging the public to cooperate with the police and other law enforcement authorities, Governor Roper said that in addition to police patrols, customs and border agents will be stepping up their vigilance.
The helicopter service will be deployed to support enforcing the curfew.
He acknowledged that "the curfew might not be perfect from Day One and will be adjusted as needed."
“We need people to have common sense and be pragmatic. We will improve it and we will enhance it as we go along. But the key thing is that it will remove many thousands of people from our roads and our streets and limit those human contacts.”
And emergency travel line is also being established for persons who might have urgent travel needs.
Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said with the curfew in place until April 3rd, policing will be fair but thorough.
“There will be fair application of the law,” he said, “but it will not be liberal.”
He said that there will be high visibility but fair enforcement and persons deliberately breaking the law will face the consequences.
The penalties are $3,000 or 1 year in prison, or both.