(CMR) Premier Alden McLaughlin said that Cayman's airspace would reopen prior to October 1, 2020 to allow for a trial period, while sea ports would not be reopened for the rest of this year.
McLaughlin made the announcement while speaking at a COVID-19 press conference on Wednesday(September 9).
The premier said that the trial period would commence on September 17 and would allow for the Cayman Islands to welcome additional categories and greater volumes of airline travellers and do so safely.
McLaughlin described the October 1 date as a “soft reopening” of the island's borders, making it clear the country would not be open to commercial flights; further adding that government had set a target of 800 travellers for the month of October
“I would like to emphasise before I go into any more detail that the phased opening which commences on the first of October only pertains to air arrivals on Cayman Airways, repatriation flights, or the BA air bridge flights between London and Grand Cayman; our ports will remain closed to cruise ships for the remainder of the year,”said McLaughlin.
According to McLaughlin, with the exception of trial runs which will be facilitated there will be no changes as it relates to entry protocols.
“Except to try out some aspects of the new arrangements we have planned for the first of October, opening up the borders in advance, using a small number of pre-selected participants. The arrival process that is currently in place stipulates that all persons who wish to travel to the Cayman Islands must register their travel requests with travel time and complete the online application form in order to apply for pre-travel approval,” added McLaughlin.
What changes come October 1 ?
McLaughlin revealed that come October 1, some travellers will be allowed to isolate in residences, noting that those who meet the requirements will be fitted with an electronic tracking device.
Isolating at home is contrary to what currently takes place on island, which forces all arriving travellers into a government managed isolation centre and a PCR test is conducted on the 15th day.
“Given the ever increasing number of positive cases of COVID-19, and many of the countries around us, particularly the United States of America and Jamaica, we have had to adjust our initial plans, especially regarding isolation. A new arrivals procedure which incorporates the use of an electronic monitoring device will be introduced,” said McLaughlin.
Mclaughlin said the electronic device would work in collaboration with physical checks.
“We will also continue and indeed ramp up the programme of random physical checks on those quarantining at home, as was being done successfully as part of the local testing, creasing and isolating process. In other words, we're using a belt and braces approach with technology backed up by physical verification,” he added.
He said that after the isolation period, the traveller will be required to have a negative PCR test result which would be sign off with the Medical Officer of Health in order To receive clearance for self isolation to be discontinued.