(CMR) As the Cayman Islands prepares to welcome back cruise ships tomorrow, 21 March, Premier Wayne Panton has reassured the public that no positive COVID passengers, crew, or close contacts of positive passengers or crew are permitted to disembark the cruise ship on Grand Cayman, whether they are symptomatic or not.
However, the passengers will not take lateral flow tests before disembarking. Proof of the passengers' vaccination and COVID-19 status will be upon the ships.
Speaking at a COVID-19 community update press conference on Friday, Premier Panton said Cayman had previously requested that passengers do LFTs before disembarking; however, cruise companies said it was not practical.
“They outlined, in considerable details, the logistical difficulties that would prove to them. At the end of the day, we accept that it would be difficult for that to happen,” Mr. Panton said.
He, however, assured that cruise visitors are on island for a few hours, and so there would be a smaller window of risks than stopover visitors.
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Autilia Newton, explained that there are precautions in place such as testing of cruise passengers, just as air passengers before they embark on their cruise voyage. The responsibility for the testing prior to embarkation on cruise ships rests with the cruise ship companies, she said.
The Acting CMO further explained that detailed information about both the testing and vaccination status for every individual aboard a cruise ship, be they passenger or crew, has to be provided on Health Declaration Forms to the Cayman Islands Port Authority for every ship arriving in the Cayman Islands.
She underscored that only when the authorities are satisfied will the cruise ship be granted a relevant certificate and the ship allowed to enter the port in the Cayman Islands. The aim is to ensure passengers and crew members coming ashore have no symptoms and are not close contacts of cases, she added.
Premier Panton reiterated that all legal obligations under international maritime law would be adhered to.
He noted that the country's updated regulations mark “the conservative reintroduction of cruise tourism aimed at supporting our economy and allowing us to monitor the implications for a period of time.”
Consistent with current Cayman Islands Regulations, children under the age of 12 years will take the status of the traveling adults in their group. However, guests aged 12 years old and over must have received their final dose of a Cayman Islands approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise, and all crew must be fully vaccinated.
Any prevalence of COVID-19 virus detected on-board a cruise ship is assessed by looking at evidence of sustained on-board transmission, the timeline of infections, and measures taken on board to control the spread of cases. There is legislation already in place requiring vessels arriving in territorial waters to provide certain information to the officer on duty at the port before making physical contact with the shore. That includes information relating to persons on board who are suffering from any disease or who have suffered from any disease during the voyage.
The vessel would remain in quarantine until such time as the officer on duty has given the vessel license to communicate with the shore.