On Friday July 17th the Cayman Islands Government announced their plan to open our borders to international travelers. As I am sure you can imagine, this was a huge relief to us.
Life has been a roller coaster during the shut down but we are super happy to announce that Grand Cayman is now in a Covid free bubble!! Yesterday they reported that for the first time since March 7th there are no reported cases of Covid in the Cayman Islands!!! We have tested over 29,000 people and testing is ongoing. There have only been 3 reported cases in July and all have been asymptomatic.
The Government took quick and strong measures in locking the island down in March. These strict shelter in place rules limited the spread. Since May they have gradually eased restrictions. Mass, free testing with contact tracing has helped monitor the virus. The work of the government along side the cooperation of the community in wearing masks and socially distancing has meant that the virus, literally, has no where to go.
The government are now moving their focus to finding a way to re-open our borders safely without jeopardizing the work that we have all done. Phase one is a soft opening to allow measures to be put in place and fine tuned. This first phase is to set to allow returning residents and people looking to stay on island for extended stays. These are the basic rules to phase one:
- Potential passengers must take a COVID-19 test 72 hours before departing. The result must come back negative.
- Potential visitors fill out an online application, which includes the requirement to prove the COVID-19 test result. Local Government will consider the application and provide a decision as to whether the potential visitor is given permission to arrive.
- Approved passengers will arrive at Owen Roberts International Airport and adhere to the facility’s new social distancing protocols.
- Visitors will receive a health monitoring device upon arriving in the Cayman Islands.
- After clearing immigration and customs, visitors will then be taken to a monitored self-isolation of their choice for five days.
- Visitors then are given another COVID-19 test. If negative, visitors are able to leave isolation but must still wear the monitoring device for a further 9 days.
As you can see this is a very cautious opening. The government have spent time analyzing other islands in our region and learning from their opening approaches. Our opening begins September 1st. The second phase to opening will be targeted at more traditional visitors looking to stay for shorter periods. This next phase will not have an isolation period.
This is obviously not a full opening and will still mean little to our business. However, for the first time since March 20th we have some positive news.
Thanks again to all of you for your support and kind words during this time. We will be back….. Wear your masks, wash your hands and lets dive together very soon.
Gary is a PADI Master Instructor and an RYA 200 ton Off Shore. Having worked all over the world as a dive instructor and boat captain. He has spent the last 20 year based in the Cayman Islands. Together with his wife Liz they have built the number one scuba diving operation in the Caribbean.