(CMR) The premier has introduced the coronavirus survival plan for the Cayman Islands – Stay At Home Cayman – at today's press conference stressing the importance of a continued Shelter in Place order with restrictive human contact for the general population. The necessary regulations have now been implemented by way of the Public Health Regulations.
The meeting began with some good news from the Chief Medical Officer confirming that 15 additional tests have come back negative for the COVID-19 virus.
Premier McLaughlin started off today's briefing indicating that the world now has over half a million COVID-19 infected persons with the United States now in the lead. He indicated the seriousness of the worldwide pandemic by sharing that his friend from Monaco Prince Albert also tested positive.
He went on to confirm that there will be two systems in place to (1) soft curfew (2) hard curfew after 5:00 am tomorrow morning. The soft curfew provisions also know as shelter in place will operate during the day and represents a more relaxed situation that allows supermarkets, gas stations, banks, and health care facilities to open. This will last from 5:00 am til 7:00 pm daily.
The soft curfew allows people to make a single trip out to access specific business services like grocery shopping, exercising, picking up food or going to the bank.
All other businesses are closed and all employees who are not designated as essential are to stay home and work from home if possible. They should only go out for limited purposes and for as short a period as possible. This will allow people to have limited access to exercising and accessing essential services. The Premier confirmed that liquor stores will be opened during the allowed operating hours of 6:00 am til 6:00 pm; allowing for travel time before the 7:00 pm curfew begins.
During the hard curfew hours a specific list read out by the Attorney General, Samuel Bulgin has been provided. During the hard curfew, almost all businesses will be shut down from 7:00 pm in the evening until 5:00 am in the morning with the exception of very limited services.
Those businesses, mostly emergency services, can operate on a limited base with specified personnel who are operating in the course of their respective professional duty. Essential workers can only travel during hard curfew hours if they are acting in their respective jobs and traveling to those. Restaurants are able to open until 6:00 pm and offer delivery services until 9:00 pm. Anyone in contravention of the regulations will be subject to a fine of $1,000.00 and six months imprisonment.
Ministry of International Trade is the “competent authority” responsible for approving anyone else who may think they need to be added to the list via email.
For public gatherings, it remains that only two persons should gather in the same space unless they are members of the same household. For the time being these provisions will remain in place until Friday, April 3.
The Police Commissioner, Derek Byrne provided a report of persons intercepted and arrests made by his officers. He indicated that on Cayman Brac has 94 interceptions with eight of those persons being in breach. Further, In Grand Cayman there were 270 interceptions with 15 being in breach and four persons having been arrested. He shared that most people were compliant with the curfew and he was pleased with the results. However, the premier made it clear that if the commissioner indicates that they are finding it difficult to patrol this new proposed hybrid regime we will go back to an absolute 24/7 curfew.
The premier stressed that we are in the suppression stage and the government is focusing on saving lives and not saving businesses at this stage. He wanted to make it painstakingly clear that he was well aware of the financial implications of this. However, if we have an outbreak on this island of the COVID-19 virus “all else would be for naught”.
Additional COVID-19 test materials have been sourced and are en route from both the UK and US. A second testing lab may be coming board shortly via The Doctors Hospital.