Updates to current regulations and restrictions have now been released to deal with the arrival of cruise tourists starting Monday, March 21, 2022.
The details of the changes were shared by the Premier, Wayne Panton, at a COVID-19 community update press conference at the Government Information Services Studio this week, where the Premier outlined health protocols required for approved cruise ship calls and for disembarking passengers of cruise ships. Premier Panton noted that the 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.”
The highlights are:
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.Consistent with current Cayman Islands Regulations, children under the age of 12 years will take the status of the travelling adults in their group.All crew must be fully vaccinated.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. It should be noted that all legal obligations under international maritime law will be adhered to.Any prevalence of COVID-19 virus detected onboard 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 board who are suffering from any disease or who have suffered from any disease during the voyage. The vessel remains in quarantine until such time as the officer on duty has given the vessel licence to communicate with the shore.Inter-island travel: There are also changes in relation to travel between the Islands. Now unvaccinated person under 18 years old who are accompanied by an accompanying person who has completed an approved course of vaccine at least 14 days prior to the date of travel shall not be required to obtain a PCR test or an antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic test (“LFT”) from a registered health care facility prior to travel. A vaccinated child under the age of 18 years would not have to be tested prior to inter-island travel.
Also addressing the conference was Health and Wellness Minister, Hon. Sabrina Turner who noted the steadily declining number of new cases of COVID-19 over six consecutive weeks. This is a testament primarily to the Cayman Islands being a regional leader in COVID-19 vaccinations as well as the public remaining compliant with mask mandates and other protocols from Public Health, she commented.
However, she cautioned that the Islands have now had 23 deaths attributed to COVID-19, the majority of whom were unvaccinated. “To date, the Cayman Islands has also had 237 people hospitalised due to COVID related causes. While this is markedly lower than many places in our region, a number of these cases could have been prevented if the patient had taken advantage of the protection offered by vaccination,” she said.
Minister Turner also urged all those not boosted to get the booster vaccination. “As we welcome more visitors, and travel overseas ourselves, having the booster enhances immunity and offers peace of mind,” she said.
Also, in view of 16 children to date having been hospitalised with life-threatening symptoms due to COVID-19 locally, she urged parents to get their children in the relevant age group vaccinated “to give them all the defences they need.” She noted the vaccination programme expanded to schools through School Health Nurses.
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Autilia Newton, addressing a query about cruise passengers, explained precautions in place such as testing of cruise passengers, just as air passengers are, before they embark on their cruise voyage. The responsibility for the testing prior to embarkation on cruise ships rests with the cruise ship companies.
However, 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, the Acting CMO further explained.
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, she underscored. The aim is to ensure passengers and crew members coming ashore have no symptoms and are not close contacts of cases, she added.
The full press conference can be viewed below: