(CMR) In light of the new strain of COVID-19 identified in the UK and several other countries, as of January 14, all travelers 10 years and older arriving in the Cayman Islands will need to show evidence of a negative PCR test.
The test, from an accredited laboratory, should be taken no more than 72 hours before departure in order to board their flight.
Premier Aldin McLaughlin said under the new rules, approved by Cabinet on Tuesday, airlines will check passengers’ documentation and deny boarding to anyone without proof of a negative test.
Passengers will also need to show the documentation when they arrive in the country.
Meantime Premier McLaughlin and other leaders encourage community members to play their part in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control by participating in the first phase of the National Vaccination Plan, which will roll out tomorrow, Friday, January 8.
The Cayman Islands is the first British Overseas Territory to receive the vaccine, with 10,000 doses arriving in the country on Wednesday.
The Premier, Governor, and Health Minister received the Pfizer vaccine at the Health Services Authority on Thursday.
Premier McLaughlin said Government leaders have led from the front to encourage everyone to take the vaccine.
He said existing quarantine protocols could not be kept up indefinitely and that the islands' borders cannot remain closed forever. He said:
“If we do our part, we should be in a position by the end of March to have vaccinated enough of the population to return to a greater degree of normalcy, travelling freely and allowing more people into our country.”
Premier McLaughlin added:
Doubters are creating unnecessary concern around the safety of the vaccine; I implore you not to let them win. We know it is safe and we know it is the right thing to do.”
Governor Martyn Roper, who also encouraged people to take the vaccine, said:
“I was pleased to receive mine this morning. It was very straightforward and I feel absolutely fine,” he said.
Health Minister Dwayne Seymour expressed his gratitude to British Airways, the Governor and his office, the airport, and HSA staff for ensuring the arrival of the vaccines and safe transportation to the HSA storage freezers. The Health Minister, who commended the HSA for their professionalism, said:
“We have to keep doing our part here at home to fight this deadly disease. I am proud we have joined this life-saving campaign with the Island’s first batch of COVID-19 vaccines being administered.
Having taken my first dose this morning. I can attest to the safety of the vaccine and confirm that I am feeling fine and I ask everyone in our community to come forward when it is opened to your category.”
Starting Friday at 10.30 am, the vaccine will be given at the Flu Clinic to people over 70 years old and healthcare providers from both the public and private sectors.
Next week, from Monday to Friday, the vaccine will be available to residents and staff of institutional facilities, healthcare workers and first responders, and frontline staff dealing with incoming travelers.
The administering of the vaccine in Cayman Brac will begin on Saturday, January 9, and on Wednesday, January 13, in Little Cayman.