(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin has announced that both airports in the Cayman Islands will close on Sunday for at least three weeks, giving people a chance to evacuate in an orderly fashion over the course of this week and avoid the horrific scenes in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport last weekend. People will be able to fly into Cayman until Thursday, but must isolate for 14 days regardless of their health status. After that, the only people who will be allowed into Cayman will be returning residents.
McLaughlin said Cabinet had approved the closure of Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman and the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport on Cayman Brac for international passenger flights for a temporary period of three weeks, beginning Sunday, 22 March, at 11:59pm until Sunday, 12 April. But the time period could be extended, he noted.
He said that with immediate effect, anyone arriving in the Cayman Islands will be required to be isolated for 14 days.
Inter-island flights will continue but flights from Grand Cayman into Cayman Brac and Little Cayman will be restricted to residents and essential personnel, such as medical staff.
“This is because, as we all know, Cayman Brac has a significant elderly population and we want to ensure that they are protected,” McLaughlin said, as he described it as being like a retirement island. He warned that younger healthy residents who do not take precautions to protect the elderly members across the Cayman Islands could be “subjecting them to a death sentence”.
The airports will remain open for medical emergencies, as well as cargo and courier flights, the premier said.
“We have not taken this decision lightly but it is in the best interests of the health of the people of the Cayman Islands. As a premier vacation destination of choice, this decision will help ensure that the Cayman Islands will be able to not only protect our people but to also protect the welfare of our tourism business and our guests over the long term,” he said.
He encouraged those on work permits who have been or are likely to be laid off to leave Cayman this week. He said that government does take a repatriation bond from work permit holders when they arrive here in case they are stranded, but people should be leaving under their own steam, as they would in any event when a permit is up.
Check back to CNS later for more on the measures government is taking to deal with COVID-19, updates on testing and the economic hardships on the horizon.