Mask mandate, pre-arrival COVID tests dropped

From June 30, travelers to the Cayman Islands will no longer be required to provide a pre-arrival COVID-19 test and the requirement to wear masks in indoor public spaces will be waived, according to new regulations released by the government on Friday evening.

Under the amended regulations, incoming passengers will no longer need to provide proof of a negative COVID test. However, they must still complete a travel declaration form on the Travel Cayman website at least 72 hours prior to departure for the islands.

Anyone arriving in Cayman with symptoms of COVID may be required to be tested and quarantine until cleared of contagion, as specified by the Medical
health officer.

The new rules expire on August 31, 2022.

Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan speaking to the Cayman Compass in a phone interview on Friday evening, said the lifting of those restrictions eased “some of the hurdles” facing businesses in the tourism industry and heralded a return to full tourism.

“Obviously this is the next step and full post-COVID recovery, even if it’s not over, but trying to get back to normal is a difficult task to balancing health and safety and then improving and recovering your economy,” says Bryan.

He added that removing the mask mandate and pre-arrival testing were “two key things the industry wanted”.

Masks made voluntary

From June 30, when the regulations come into force, wearing a mask in public will no longer be compulsory. It will be left to the discretion of individuals and restaurant/business owners, as well as those who operate or manage a healthcare facility, home care facility, prison or place of detention.

From this date, staff in restaurants, hotels and bars will no longer be required to wear masks when serving customers.

However, the owner or operator of any business or facility to which the public has access has the right to implement a requirement to wear masks in their establishment, and anyone who refuses to do so may be legally denied access. ‘hall.

Under the regulations, students will no longer be required to wear masks at school.

As with public transport, wearing a mask will be at the discretion of taxi or bus operators, who also have the right to require any passenger wearing a mask to remove it briefly for the purposes of determining identity. of the person, the regulations indicate.

Bryan said that while the mask mandate is lifted, individuals must remember that they still have an obligation of personal responsibility.

“The action we expect from everyone is to remember that COVID is not over, your freedoms may return, but be careful,” he said.

The requirement to wear masks on board planes to the Caymans is also lifted.

Bryan said the change was significant, particularly for national airline Cayman Airways, as the mandatory mask rule had put it at a competitive disadvantage.

“Since the American airlines [removed the requirement of] wearing masks on their planes put Cayman Airways at a disadvantage, which affects Cayman Airways’ bottom line, as people sometimes decide not to fly with our airline due to the fact that they were required to wear a mask on the plane, but not obligated to do so on other airlines,” he said.

Arrivals not vaccinated

The government has also removed the requirement for unvaccinated Caymanians and residents returning to the islands to self-isolate upon arrival.

Previously, all unvaccinated arrivals – other than young children who could take their parents’ vaccination status – had to quarantine for seven days.

Under the new protocols, unvaccinated Caymanians and residents must submit an application for travel authorization to Travel Cayman at least five days prior to departure for the islands. They will also be required to comply with written instructions from the Medical Officer of Health, which may include an instruction to perform a COVID test.

Bryan said the removal of a quarantine restriction on Caymanians and unvaccinated residents meant those people could travel freely.

He said it gave a level of freedom to Caymanians to travel freely without any obstacles, and allowed them “to choose whether they want to be vaccinated or not”.

Other unvaccinated travelers are not permitted to enter Cayman by air. However, those with close ties to the islands can enter, but must still quarantine for seven days.

The requirement for cruise ship passengers to complete an approved vaccination course at least 14 days before boarding a cruise ship bound for Cayman remains in place.

No official statement was released by the government on the new changes, instead a brief email from the government information services simply informed the media of the release of the new regulations.

Extended retirement leave

Also on Friday, the government released regulatory changes that extended retirement leave until September.

The retirement leave, which suspends the obligation to contribute, was to end on June 30.

Pension payments are required by law, but in April 2020, as a COVID-19 relief measure, the progressive administration then led by Alden McLaughlin suspended payments and exempted employers, employees and workers self-employed to make mandatory contributions to pension plans.

Read the full rules here:

Control and Management of COVID-19 No. 3 (Amendment) Regulations 2022

Control of COVID-19 (Travel) Regulations 2022 No. 3

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