As you may be aware, the Cayman Islands’ borders have been closed to visitors, from a general aviation perspective, since March, in the jurisdiction’s quest to prevent the spread of Covid-19 within the Islands. This strict approach has meant Cayman has had very few cases and eventually has led to us becoming COVID-free for the past three weeks, an incredible achievement for the people of these Islands.
Opening of borders gradually
But, come 1st September, the Islands will begin a gradual reopening of our borders to allow certain categories of people to come and go, with certain restrictions. Caymanians, Permanent Residency holders, those on Work Permits and property owners will be the initial group of people who we will be welcoming back. This ‘soft reopening’ of Cayman will allow the Islands to roll back rather than jumping back into tourism, which should mean that we are able to better handle the formidable task of allowing overseas visitors back into Cayman.
It is critical that we open our borders extremely cautiously to ensure that we do not suffer the same fate as some of our neighbours, who experienced spikes in COVID cases once they opened their borders, only to have to close them again. The start/stop process is a huge let-down for those who have committed to visiting or who were thinking of visiting. With proper protocols in place for visitors, it is anticipated that this soft opening will enable us to eventually get back fully to pre-COVID tourism levels in the coming months.
Such protocols include taking a COVID-19 test 72 hours before departing and subsequently then showing a negative test. Passengers must fill out an online application, which includes the requirement to prove the COVID-19 test result. The Government will consider the application and provide a decision as to whether the passenger is given permission to arrive. Then, once you arrive, you will need to stick to the airport’s new social distancing protocols. Passengers will receive a health monitoring device upon arriving and after clearing immigration and customs, they will then be taken to a monitored self-isolation location for five days. Passengers then are given another Covid-19 test. If the test is negative, they can leave the isolation facility, but they will still need to wear the monitoring device.
I would add that, if you are contemplating visiting the Cayman Islands, you should always ensure you have kept up-to-date with the latest events when it comes to our borders reopening via the Government’s TravelTime website: www.exploregov.ky/traveltime.
Opening up our borders again is a critical move for our real estate industry. Since the borders have been shut, we have seen considerable activity; encouraging people back into our Islands will only serve to increase that activity even further. We have a number of customers who are waiting for the borders to open before coming to visit so they can physically see and experience the property that they are hoping to purchase. Virtual tours alone can work for those who have the means, however even then they, in most cases, still wish to actively visit the property before committing to purchase. In order for the market to be fully engaged once more, it is extremely important that we facilitate prospective buyers to physically visit.
Increasingly, Cayman is being seen by possible buyers overseas as an important component of their back-up plan to combat the current turmoil in the world. I believe these types of buyers will be on the increase moving forward, but they need to actually get here in order to make that call.
Cayman’s conservative approach to fighting Covid-19 by quickly locking down our borders has been proved to be correct, as we have now been COVID-free for three weeks, despite consistent testing. Cayman’s ability to protect its residents is therefore yet another reason why people choose to buy their second or third home here. Safety, security, a great communication network, accessibility, convenience and a fantastic lifestyle have always been attributes that have been particularly attractive to overseas investors.
Now we can definitely add to that people’s ability to function at an almost normal level, while still abiding by the usual rules concerning hygiene, face mask-wearing and social distancing. But those things considered, we really are almost back to normal life. While we have all worked incredibly hard to get to this point, I believe we are very fortunate to be able to go about our lives without the constant worry of COVID. Cayman is an awesome place to be, come and visit.