Premier says cruise tourism unlikely to resume this year: Cayman Islands

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Premier Alden McLaughlin

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Island – Premier Alden McLaughlin says that it is unlikely that cruise ships will be returning to the territory this year due to the ongoing pandemic.

Speaking during a press conference on Thursday, McLaughlin said that while he is optimistic that the territory’ vaccine program could mean a resumption of some travel and tourism starting in March, he has ruled out cruise tourism for the time being.

“Cruise is not on our radar at all at this stage. We would have to be satisfied that the world was in a very different place in terms of safety-related to COVID-19 before we would even consider having the cruise ships come here. Honestly, I don’t see cruise tourism resuming on any significant level before next year.”

“The cruise ship business is not really within our contemplation at this stage.”During the press conference, the Premier urged Caymanians to play their part and get the COVID-19 vaccine to allow “Cayman to resume an even greater sense of normalcy” by the end of March.

McLaughlin said that since the Cayman Islands emerged from lockdown, it has been in “a holding pattern” waiting for a vaccine, and now that one is here, the community had to come together to do the right thing. He pointed out that the lockdown only succeeded because of public support, and now it was needed again. Cayman needed people to get vaccinated to win again.

“As a country, we have come through the worst of this crisis, but we now need to provide everyone the best chance possible to maintain the gains that we have made. To do so requires us to take the vaccine and protect ourselves, protect our families, and protect our community,” he said.

“It was our collective action and our sense of duty and responsibility that brought us to the position we are in today. And it will take a similar resolve and unity of purpose in taking the vaccine to deliver us the rest of the way,” he added.

Health Minister Dwayne Seymour echoed his sentiments, noting that over 16 million people worldwide have now received the vaccine. Describing it as a life-saving campaign, he asked everyone to come forward as soon as their category opened in the phased rollout.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee explained the vaccine program’s rollout, which is staged by the levels of risk and potential exposure certain groups have. But he, too, urged everyone to take the shot as soon as they can. He explained that allergic reactions to the Pfizer vaccine have been minimal and that most people can take it. People with serious allergies to the components of the vaccine should check with their physicians.

Lee admitted that the evidence is still lacking on whether or not a person who has been vaccinated can act as a conduit and still transmit the virus while not getting sick themselves. But he stressed the protection that the vaccine can offer to those who have been immunized, especially after the second dose.

The Health Minister revealed that on Friday, persons over 70, healthcare workers, front-line staff dealing with travelers, and those with significant pre-existing conditions are being invited to attend the HSA Flu Clinic on Friday and district health facilities across all three islands from Monday, as the official vaccination plan gets underway.

So far, several healthcare workers have already been vaccinated, along with government leaders, who are hoping for a significant take-up.

Meanwhile, Lee revealed that another three arriving travelers recently tested positive for COVID-19 among a batch of 199 results, but all three were asymptomatic.

There are still eleven people suffering symptoms among 47 active cases.

A total of 1,101 travelers are in home isolation or quarantine. The CMO said that from now on, when the daily test results are released, the Public Health Department will also reveal the number of vaccine doses that have been administered.

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