By Lindsey Turnbull
Europe is currently seeing a huge resurgence in Covid cases, the UK has placed millions of people under local lockdown due to worrying increases there and the US has yet to get to grips with Covid, with the highest incidence and deaths anywhere in the world. The Cayman Islands, by comparison, has zero cases and is currently doing its utmost to keep it that way.
The new geofencing home isolation arrangement is currently being trialed by a small number of passengers who disembarked the 17th September British Airways flight from Heathrow. It is a straightforward procedure which, it is anticipated, will be Cayman’s answer to opening up our borders in a safe and controlled manner come 1st October.
Bussing incoming passengers off to stay at the Government’s expense at the Wyndham Resort, the Holiday Inn or other locations is not a sustainable solution to the problem of ensuring people remain in quarantine so that they do not spread Covid. From a cost perspective to Government and a comfort perspective for the passenger, it is far better to permit returning residents and long-term visitors to spend their quarantine in their own homes or vacation homes. The new geofencing programme allows that to happen.
Incoming passengers are met at the airport by Travel Time and Public Health personnel and the first step is to hand sanitise upon entry to the Arrivals hall. Passengers are then required to sanitise their arm up to the elbow on the arm to which the bracelet will be attached. The plastic iMSafe wristband is attached to the wrist and passengers are also given a smart phone with the iMSafe App to which the wristband is linked via Bluetooth. Passengers then clear Immigration and are sent to a booth where a Covid test is administered. Many people in Cayman have already undergone a Covid test, but for the uninitiated, it is an uncomfortable poke up the nose, but it doesn’t last long, and the Public Health staff are professional and kind. From there on, passengers are required to collect their baggage and are sent straight through Customs to a specially designated taxi which takes passengers to their pre-authorised destination address. The taxi driver will wait until the individuals are safely inside the property before leaving.
Public Health will have already authorised the property for is acceptability as a location for quarantine, taking into consideration such things as whether the property is shared by anyone else (in that case they, too, will have to quarantine), whether there are separate bedrooms at the location (should anyone in the household be positive and will therefore need further isolation) and the property’s proximity to other households. Once home, the individual needs to activate the App and that is about it. The phone must be with the individual at all times and there is a clock on the phone that shows when the individual was last seen by the Travel Time team. People need to be prepared to receive alerts, phone calls and/or visits at any time to spot check their whereabouts. They are not allowed to roam any further than the property itself or too far from the phone.
It’s important to ensure the mobile phone is sufficiently charged above 30 per cent (a charger is provided), otherwise a loud alert is signaled. You can bathe with the wristband, but you cannot submerge it underwater and obviously you cannot remove it yourself.
Potential travelers are urged to think ahead if they want to come to Cayman, when it comes to essentials such as groceries and medications. All three supermarkets - Hurley’s, Foster’s and Kirk Market - have excellent delivery services and some pharmacies (such as Kirk Pharmacy) will deliver. Anyone quarantining at home must not allow others into their property while isolating and must not have any interaction with delivery or other people.
And then it’s just a waiting game, staying put for a couple of short weeks, then a follow up Covid test to ensure that the individual is Covid free and that Cayman’s community is safe and secure. A small price to pay for the luxury of peace of mind that very few others in the world have right now.