By Staff Writer
“Cayman needs to pave a way for a safe and continuous opening of its borders whereby vaccinated visitors could come without the need for quarantine, while at the same time trying to ensure that people are not made seriously ill or die with Covid,” said Premier Wayne Panton. This position was made clear during the Parliamentary debate on two Bills at the beginning of the week which saw new laws brought in to mandate vaccinations for certain categories of people.
To that end, the Premier said Government would be rolling out a plan explaining how this would be done, but he ruled out giving a specific date on which the borders would reopen.
Some of the areas to be addressed in the reopening plan included the Public Health system, social practices, testing and reporting, isolation regimes, vaccination levels, immigration and entry requirements, employment and labour matters, travel, data and analytics, law enforcement, emergency response, and information sharing and communications.
However, Premier Panton said it was impossible for Government to randomly pick a date for full reopening of the border because the decision needed to be based on science.
One tool in the battle was the use of lateral flow Covid tests which had recently been proved for use, which provide fast identification of positive cases. These tests play an integral role in the Government’s overall management strategy by empowering people to proactively stay aware of their Covid-19 status by self-testing while reducing the need to attend a healthcare facility for initial testing. The tests have been ordered and are expected on Island in the coming weeks.
“Many of these tests can be self-administered and have the potential to eliminate the challenges presently faced by employers, patrons, customers, students and those wanting to go to the gym,” Mr. Panton said. “Living with Covid means that we will try to keep our unvaccinated children in school using regular lateral flow testing and the isolation only of those who have tested positive rather than the whole class.”
Lateral flow testing will be used when students return to classes after mid-term break on 25th October.
The Premier also called on employers to do their part in helping the Government safely reopen borders while managing Covid.
“Employers will have to do their part if we are to safely control Covid and manage it. We can’t have employees feeling as if they have to choose between their job and their health or that of their children,” he said. “So, while we look to make practical adjustments to quarantine periods for those who are vaccinated, we can’t allow Covid-positive employees to simply continue to go to work without isolation. That’s not safe, not healthy or wise.”
The Premier said Government’s vision was to get the country to a point where they could continue the reopening programme and remain open in a responsible way.
“…not just trying to stay open, not just fighting against the odds to stay open, but doing it in a safe way where people are not suffering to any large extent,” Mr. Panton said.