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(File photo)

Cruise tourism unlikely to resume this year in Cayman Islands — Premier McLaughlin

(File photo)

Cayman Islands 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’s vaccine programme could mean a resumption of some travel and tourism activities starting in March, he has ruled out cruise tourism for the time being.

Premier of the Cayman Islands Alden McLaughlin (Photo: CMC)

“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 sort of significant level before next year,” the premier stated.

“The cruise ship business is not really within our contemplation at this stage,” he emphasised.

Holding out for a vaccine

During the press conference, McLaughlin 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.

He noted 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 also pointed out that the lockdown only succeeded because of public support and now it was needed again.

“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”

— Premier of the Cayman Islands Alden McLaughlin

Cayman needs people to get vaccinated to win again, he said.

“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,” Mclaughlin explained.

“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.

‘A life-saving campaign’

Health Minister Dwayne Seymour echoed his sentiments, noting that over 16 million people around the world 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.

The Cayman Islands Cayman Islands emerged from lockdown, waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine, says Premier Alden McLaughlin (Photo: Hans Pennink/AP)

Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee explained the roll out of the vaccine programme, which is staged in accordance with 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 very limited 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, health care workers, front-line staff dealing with travellers 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 health care workers have already been vaccinated, along with government leaders, who are hoping for a significant take-up.

Travellers test positive

Meanwhile, Lee revealed that another three arriving travellers 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 travellers 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.