Published 18th March 2020, 8:36pm
The Chief Medical Office Dr. John Lee began the press briefing explaining that there was no update on test results to share today. The Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin announced more measures that Cabinet has put in place today to continue to limit and control the spread of COVID-19.
Mr McLaughlin advised that he’d joined a conference call on Wednesday morning with Baroness Suggs, the UK Overseas Territories Minister, along with representatives from the other Overseas Territories (OTs). He said he was reassured to learn that the UK is sourcing additional essential equipment and supplies and that whatever the UK Government can do to assist the OTs will be done.
The Premier also said the UK is determined that an air-bridge between the UK and its OTs is maintained and that the UK and the Cayman Islands are working together to achieve this. Cayman should be able to use Cayman Airways jets or the Saab aircraft to distribute equipment, personnel, medications and the like to the other OTs, which was a fine testament to the infrastructure developed in Cayman and its ability to help its brothers and sisters in these territories and further afield, if necessary.
Mr McLaughlin addressed concerns regarding the imminent arrival of hundreds of Caymanian students returning home. While some students have already arrived, a large percentage of these students and in particular students who have been studying in the UK, will begin returning tomorrow.
Since all returning students should self-isolate and so should their families and all those who visit them, this could become a significant logistics issue, Mr. McLaughlin acknowledged, particularly if essential services personnel like firemen, nurses, doctors and police officers should be part of their family.
In this regard, Government in conjunction with National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC), is putting into place a central facility at a local hotel to help them self-isolate for 14 days. This would be available for those who needed to self-isolate if unable to do so at their homes. This 14-day stay would be free of cost to them.
Similarly, such a free stay will be available at another hotel for 14 days for essential services personnel who are family of returning students, should they feel the need to use such a separate residence from their returning students and their other family members, to be able to do their jobs, he announced.
He thanked the key partners in providing this service in conjunction with Government, describing it as another stellar example of public-private sector partnership, one of the foundations for Cayman’s continuing success.
Premier McLaughlin advised students and essential persons who seek such accommodation to call NEOC on 1-800-534-6555. He reiterated that all returning have to be isolated.
Due to the economic impact of the virus and the measures Government are taking to constrain its spread, a onetime emergency COVID 19 stipend will be made on Tuesday 31st March 2020 of $600 per person to anyone who operates a 15-seater bus, taxi or tour bus or dual taxi-tour bus and water sports. This would be to cover the one month closure of the airport. Additional tourism sector groups could be added depending on need.
The decision by Butterfield Bank to introduce a three-month automatic payment deferral programme for all residential mortgages and personal loans in good standing was good news. Government is hoping that other banks will follow their example and Mr. McLaughlin urged persons who would benefit from a deferral to contact their bank to make the necessary arrangements.
The CICSA Credit Union are also working with their customers to provide waivers of payment or refinancing and members who want to avail themselves of this service are to call (345) 949 8415 and speak to one of the loan officers.
Hon. Joey Hew, Minister for Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure verified that Government are in contact with the Small Business Association and the Chamber of Commerce to agree on tangible solutions to support businesses during this unprecedented time.
Mr. Hew announced the fast-tracking of the Cayman Islands Centre for Business Development.
The Centre will begin providing services on Monday 23rd March, 2020. The will provide training to cover areas such as:
• Smart Measures for Business Continuity • Best Practices for Handling a Cash Flow Crisis • Conducting a Business Impact Analysis • Business Model Innovation • Social Media Marketing • Online Freelancing Opportunities
The Centre will work with small businesses to prepare them for renegotiating existing loans with commercial banks or to request and access a period of moratorium on loans. Bearing in mind the importance of social distancing, the Centre will operate by appointment only. To make an appointment call (345) 244-3451 or (345) 244-2498 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 pm and (345) 926-5771 up to 10:00 pm.