With some sector of the economy scaling back in light of the coronavirus outbreak, the government is taking steps to minimise the effect on the transport sector.
The Government will provide them with a supplementary income.
From this Sunday 22nd March, inbound passenger air traffic at Caymans two main airports will be suspended until Sunday, 12th April.
Also from Sunday, local business will be closed or restrictions put on their operations for an initial period of two weeks.
During that time restaurants will be limited to providing only take-out and delivery services while bars, spas, salons, gyms and public swimming pools are required to close.
Given the impact this will have on the transportation sector, a subsistence plan has been activated to support Caymanian public transportation providers.
During the three week airport closure period, the Government will provide transport operators with a CI$600.00 payment as supplementary income.
Hon. Deputy Premier and Minister of Tourism, Mr. Moses Kirkconnell said:
“As one of the largest industries made up of Caymanian owners and operators who rely on this as their primary income, the closure of the ports and airports along with recommendations by health authorities to practice social distancing has already begun to create a serious economic impact for this particular group.”
Cayman nationals who are transportation providers who meet set criteria to qualify for the stipend will be contacted directly to make the arrangements.
The recipients will be those holding category of licences approved to operate one 15-seater bus, or vehicle of less than 15 seats; are licensed as either a taxi, tour, dual (taxi and tour); or water sports operator
Mr Kirkconnell acknowledged that, “this sector services visitors who, for the near future will not be entering the Cayman Islands but on a day to day basis services residents who rely on public transportation to traverse the islands.”
He said, “It is inevitable that this nationwide reduction in society’s usual activities will hit the hospitality sector hard, but for providers such as this group, it’s a double hit and we as a government are responsible to ensure that we look out for our citizens.”
Transportation providers who fit the above criteria will be contacted directly by the Public Transportation Unit or official CIG representatives to finalise distribution of the stipend.
“We are in unchartered territory in regard to how we as a Government handle the many nuances and areas of concern considering a pandemic of this level,” Mr. Kirkconnell said.
He said it is the Government intent "to develop positive measures to support our tourism industry and the sectors who sustain it, during these trying times.
"Our public transport providers are often the face of the Cayman Islands, who embody a Caymankind ambassadorship in their daily business which cannot be replaced.”
As the COVID-19 response continues to evolve, additional tourism sector groups could be added to the stipend program.
Hon. Kirkconnell stated that the stipend reflects “an ongoing commitment to identify ways for the Cayman Islands Government (CIG) to support industries most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis response led to the announcement of a one-time stipend for licensed, Caymanian transportation providers.”