December 8, 2021

Cayman Governor – Reopening

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Cayman: Statement by HE The Governor – Reopening

I want to congratulate Premier Panton and his Government on the border reopening announcements. This is pivotal moment in our handling of the pandemic. As a community, we have all been working hard, in effect since March 2020, to get to this position. It is in large part down to each and every one of you have come forward and taken the vaccine. We are now almost at 80% of the entire population having received 1 dose and 75% have had both. That puts us in a very strong position.

The time has come to move forward with our reopening and live with covid. We can no longer stand still because the costs – economic, social mental health – are mounting and will only rise further if we remain stuck. But we have to move forward as safely as possible. Scientific and medical advice is clear both from Dr Lee and independently confirmed by the UK HAS (formerly Public Health England), that it is safe to take this decision and welcome back fully vaccinated tourists. It will give a much needed boost to our economy and help many people get back to work.

We are as well prepared as anywhere in the world to take this next step. I want to recognise the superb efforts of all the civil servants who worked around the clock to produce the National critical preparedness, readiness and response plan for Government. And I pay tribute to the Premier for his leadership, courage and vision. These are incredibly difficult decisions. But they are the right ones for everyone in Cayman. We now have to be ready for a new normal and live with COVID – as we have been doing for the last month since we first had community spread.

But let us be clear living with Covid in Cayman remains a cautious and careful approach with significant mitigations in place to protect our community (in that sense it differs very markedly from the more open policy followed in the UK). In Cayman our high vaccine take-up combined with other mitigations eg roll-out of boosters, using lateral flow tests to detect and isolate positive cases, mask wearing, good hand hygiene and social distancing measures – these are all crucial to out new normal and how we live with covid safely. We may see more cases but the science gives us confidence that when combined all these measures will contain the spread of the virus and prevent the overwhelming majority of us from getting seriously ill or dying. It is therefore reassuring that only 2 people are in hospital with Covid. Both are doing well and we send them our best wishes for a speedy recovery.  

The Premier and I had out boosters this morning. Thank you to those who asked whether I was 50! Sadly I am well into my 6th decade!! We are fortunate to have such an excellent vaccine provided by the UK. Pfizer and BioNTech announced yesterday results of trials showing that a booster dose gives a vaccine efficacy of 95.6% against infection. That is excellent news and a good reason to get your top up when eligible. Our booster programme is now in full swing – we have already ordered another 11000 doses to arrive on island in the second half of November or sooner if needed. As we move towards a new normal of living with covid each of us needs to assume personal responsibility for protecting everyone in our community by following the public health regulations and guidelines. The majority of us have done that outstandingly over the pandemic. We need to step up even more now. It is interesting that in Turks and Caicos, the majority of covid cases are not tourists but the local population travelling overseas and then circulating in the community.

So at this key moment in our response to the pandemic, let us all step up again as we seek to protect our most vulnerable and elderly who are most at risk from covid. We are ready to move forward and I remain highly optimistic about Cayman’s future. We are a strong and resilient community. I remain convinced we will succeed.  

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