As nations around the world begin to implement their COVID-19 suppression ‘exit strategy’, the Cayman Islands is also gearing up and may be opening up its borders sooner than initially anticipated.
On Tuesday, Cayman Islands Premier, the Honourable Alden McLaughlin revealed that due to low infection rate of the virus, the Islands could be re-opening their borders later this year, as opposed to doing so in 2021, as previously planned.
The news comes as the British Territory's’ closest neighbor to the South aims to open its borders by 15th June.
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness has made it clear that his country needs to restart its economy as a matter of urgency.
However, the Cayman Islands’ Premier said he is staying on the virus elimination track and would not follow other destinations in the region who were planning to open in the coming weeks.
“We will be watching some of the ‘experiments’ taking place in other Caribbean Countries to help with our decision making in the coming weeks,’ noted Mr. McLaughlin.
He added that the Government was currently looking at what re-opening borders would look like in practice and pointed out that they were not quite there yet in terms of deciding on procedures with regard to testing, social distancing and other concerns.
“We are going to see the end of this virus in relatively short order but we are not there yet,” he declared, adding that it would be a mistake to alter our course at this point.
Currently there are 151 cases of COVID-19 in the Cayman Islands, with 75 persons having recovered and only one death.
So far, most of the cases on the Islands have been asymptomatic. However, the recent occurrence of a child testing positive and exhibiting symptoms was described as “sobering” by the Islands’ Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee.
Recently, Caymanians, Cayman Islands residents and work-permit holders were allowed to return to the Cayman Islands.
All arriving passengers are required to isolate in a government facility for 14 days on arrival.
There are currently 59 persons in the Government provided isolation facility, whilst over 200 persons are self-isolating, according to Government officials.
Travel to the Sister Islands is currently restricted to essential personnel, despite Little Cayman having received the all clear recently and Cayman Brac being on a significantly less rigid suppression regime than Grand Cayman.
Curfew restrictions in Grand Cayman have also been eased somewhat and some sectors of the economy are now beginning to reopen.
Flights to and from Jamaica to Grand Cayman are currently being planned.