1.Spending Measures (Budget Allocations)
The Cayman Islands Government approved KYD $3 million to assist the most vulnerable, elderly and disabled Caymanian citizens and has approved an undisclosed amount to assist expatriate work permit holders in urgent need.
No other major spending measures have been implemented as of yet.
2. Tax Measures (Deferral of Payroll Tax Obligations, Extensions of Tax Filing Deadlines)
The Government/Ministry of Financial Services is presently engaging with the leaders/delegates of the financial services industry.
A number of interim measures have been taken to ease the burden on the financial services industry including:
- Extensions of filing deadlines with the General Registry including Beneficial Ownership Filings (extended to April 20), Economic Substance Notification Filings (extended to June 30), Annual Return Filings (extended to June 30), Filings for Changes in Directors and Officers (extensions for 30 days if changes occurred on or after March 1), Filing Deadlines for Changes to Registered Offices and Amended Memorandum and Articles of Association (extensions for 30 days for changes on or after March 1).
- Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) extended deadlines for Dormant Account Filings (extended to April 30), Bi-Annual Filings (extended to July 31), Audited Financial Statements/FAR Submissions (30-day extension on a case-by-case basis). There will be no fees associated with the extensions for regulatory filings.
3. Subsidies to Preserve Jobs, Employee Benefits, Food Assistance
- A one-time stipend of KYD $600 was to be paid by 31 March 2020 for any person who operates a taxi, tour bus, dual taxi-tour bus, 15-seater bus and water sports.
- The Needs Assessment Unit (NAU) is assisting families whose children were receiving school lunches and Caymanian families in need of resistance will receive a food stipend.
- Seafarers, Veterans and persons on Permanent Financial Assistance are to receive a one-time payment of KYD $425.
- Expatriate work permit holders who require urgent support may apply for a one-time food voucher (KYD $150).
- The Government has provided guidance tips to small businesses and has ensured the Centre for Business Development remains open to provide training and support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMSEs) in respect of business continuity, handling cash flow during crisis, social media marketing, cash flow management, etc.
4. Public Loan Guarantees and Expansion of Loans to Businesses
5. Student Loan Relief
6. Insolvency Law Relief
Amendments to the insolvency related legislation have been considered over the past few years, but there is an urgent push (in light of the COVID-19 pandemic) for industry consultation, which is scheduled to occur over the coming weeks.
The proposed amendments to the Companies Law (2020 Revision) include the establishment of a company rescue/restructuring regime through the appointment of a restructuring officer.
The proposed amendments are as follows:
- A company may present a petition for the appointment of a restructuring officer on the grounds that: a) It is or is likely to become unable to pay its debts and b) It intends to present a compromise or arrangement to its creditors (or classes thereof) either, pursuant to the Companies Law, a foreign law or by way of a consensual restructuring.
- The restructuring officer must be a qualified insolvency practitioner. A foreign practitioner can be appointed by the court in addition to the qualified insolvency practitioner. A foreign practitioner shall not act as a sole restructuring officer of a company.
- A global stay of proceedings upon the presentation/filing of a petition, except with leave of the court.
- Despite the amendments being aimed at corporate rescue, it is proposed that a secured creditor with security over the whole or part of the assets of a company can enforce its security without leave of the court and without reference to the appointment of a restructuring officer.
1. Reduction of Interest Rates
Individual banks have taken measures to reduce their KYD and USD Prime rates, as follows:
Butterfield Bank reduced its KYD and USD prime rates by 1.00% from 4.25% to 3.25%, effective March 23, 2020.
Cayman National Bank reduced its KYD and USD prime rates by 1.00% from 4.25% to 3.25%, effective March 24, 2020.
2. Expansion of Central Bank’s Holdings of Government Bonds
3. Other Measures to Support Flow of Credit
4. Suspension of Foreclosures/Evictions
There have been no formal suspension of foreclosures or evictions. However, the Government has strongly encouraged the banks to work with customers and for landlords to refrain from evicting tenants.
5. Reductions/Suspensions of Mortgage Payments
The Government has not mandated industry-wide action by the banks in respect of the reduction/suspension of mortgage and other loan payments. However, individual banks have taken their own action including the following:
- Butterfield Bank: Reduced personal lending rates effective March 16th. Offering a two-month payment deferral (beginning May 2020) on credit cards, as well as a three-month deferral of principal and interest payments on personal and small business loans/residential mortgages (provided the mortgages and loans are in good standing). Business customers with loan balances up to KYD $2 million will be required to make interest-only payments for a three-month period. Businesses and corporate clients with loan values greater than KYD $2 million are encouraged to contact the bank to discuss arrangements.
- Cayman National Bank: Offering to waive up to three months of loan payments to clients in good standing but appears to be on a case by case basis.
- Scotiabank: Offering to customers in good standing, a deferral of loan payments up to six months (initially deferred for three months with possibility of extending for a further three months) and appears to be applicable to secured and unsecured loans including mortgages, loans, lines of credit and credit cards.
- Jamaica National Group: Offering a three-month moratorium on mortgage payments effective March 25, 2020. Also offering a deferral of loan payments up to 12 months with the ability to extend loan tenure to reduce monthly payments. Businesses are offered a deferral of loan payments for up to twelve months with special terms for small and medium sized enterprises.
- RBC: Offering to clients in good standing an automatic three-month payment deferral on credit facilities. Business and corporate clients may also be eligible for the same relief on a case by case basis.
- CIBC First Caribbean International Bank: Working with clients on a case by case basis, but is offering up to a six-month payment moratorium on existing loans and mortgages.
6. Asset Purchases (Liquidity Facilities, Purchase of Private and Public Sector Securities, Acquiring Equity of Larger Affected Companies)
7. Exchange Rate Adjustments
1. Social Distancing
The Cayman Islands Government enacted the Public Health (Prevention, Control and Suppression of COVID-19) Regulations, 2020 (as amended) pursuant to the Cabinet’s authority under section 34 of the Public Health Law (2002 Revision) which governs Social Distancing, Closure of Public Places for Gathering, and Closure of Non-Essential Businesses. The key requirements in respect of social distancing are as follows:
- Each person in a public place shall maintain a distance of at least six feet (2 metres) from any other person. Owners and operators of a public place are required to restrict the number of customers within a place of business to enable each customer to maintain the six-foot distance from another person.
- Subject to certain exemptions for essential officials/employees, all persons are required to “Shelter in Place” within the confines of their residence/yard space at all times with a “hard curfew” between the hours of 7:00 pm to 5:00 am [imposed under section 49 of the Police Law (2017 Revision)] where only exempt persons are permitted to leave their residences/yard spaces; and a “soft curfew” between 5:00 am and 7:00 pm where persons are permitted to leave their residences/yard spaces to undertake essential travel (to health care facilities, supermarkets, convenience stores/minimarts, pharmacies, retail banks/building societies/credit unions, to facilitate the exchange of children pursuant to a consensual or court ordered child custody arrangement, and if a person is required by law to report to the police station in relation to a bail condition), and to engage in outdoor exercise alone or with a family member living at the same residence for no more than 1.5 hours (between the hours of 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.
- The Government has announced that starting the week of April 6, 2020, residents whose surnames begin with the letters A-K will be permitted to leave their residences/yard spaces for essential travel only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and that residents whose surnames begin with the letters L-Z will be permitted to leave their residences/yard spaces for essential travel only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Sundays will be a 24 hours hard curfew for all residents. Exercise and travel to see a doctor/medical care/pharmacy will be permitted on every day of the week except on Sunday.
- The “hard curfew” was originally in force until April 3, 2020 but has been renewed until 5:00 am on April 17, 2020.
- The “soft curfew” is set to expire on April 7, 2020 but will be extended until April 17, 2020.
- The Government has introduced fines including but not limited to the following: establishments not restricting the number of customers in a business to enable each customer to maintain the 6 foot social distancing requirement (KYD $250); not maintaining a distance of six feet or two metres from others (KYD $250); holding a public meeting (KDY up to $750); opening an establishment/business that is not exempt (KYD $750); a convenience store with more than six customers at a time (KYD $750); and undertaking essential travel on the day other than the permitted day according to surname ($500).
2. Closure of Public Places for Gathering
- All public gatherings of more than 2 people who are not part of the same household are banned.
- No person shall host a party which includes a person from outside the immediate household, visit or permit entry to a private strata pool/gym or a playground, perform works of construction except for urgent home plumbing/electrical/roof repairs, offer for hire or seek to travel on a boat- sailing inter-islands (except for transport of freight), host or attend a wedding of 10 or more persons other than the bride/groom/official witnesses/marriage officer, and host/attend a funeral except 10 members of the immediate family/6 pallbearers/at least one officiant/essential mortuary staff.
- No person shall visit or be permitted to visit a place or facility of quarantine/isolation, residential care facility, a detainee in a prison or place of detention, or a patient in a healthcare facility.
3. Closure of Non-Essential Businesses
- All non-essential establishments, institutions, businesses and offices are to remain closed and businesses may ask employees to work remotely from home.
- Essential establishments, institutions businesses and organizations are permitted to remain open (i.e. Police/Fire Departments, Customs and Border Control, Waste/Sanitation, Health Care Facilities, Water/Electricity/Telecommunications providers, Judicial Administration, Security Providers, Government Officials, Agriculture and Food Productions, etc.).
- Restaurants are permitted to conduct business, solely through drive-through services/take-out/curb side collection (until 6:00 pm) and delivery (until 9:00 pm).
- Supermarkets, pharmacies, and convenience stores/mini-marts (limited to 6 customers at a time) are permitted to be open between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm (with special hours for immune compromised/pregnant individuals and essential works; and specific days for shopping at supermarkets based on surnames).
- Retail banks, building societies and credit unions are permitted to be open between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm (specific days for banking based on surnames).
- Public transportation services are suspended until April 7, 2020 and taxis are limited to two passengers at a time.
4. School Closures
- All education facilities (including all Government and private schools, early childhood education centres, universities, tutoring centres, technical and vocational training centres) are closed as of March 16, 2020 until April 27, 2020 (to be reviewed by the Ministry of Education on April 20, 2020). The Government and private schools have implemented various distance learning measures to ensure continued learning during the school closures.
As a British Overseas Territory, the Cayman Islands have already received medical support/guidance from the United Kingdom and may receive future international assistance from the United Kingdom.
The Cayman Islands and UK Governments have established an air bridge through British Airways between the Cayman Islands and the UK for the purposes of obtaining supplies and equipment as well as allow people in the Cayman Islands a chance to leave the Islands and for Caymanians and residents currently overseas to return to Cayman Islands. The UK has spent approximately £75 million to charter the aircraft.
The Cayman Islands Government has connected with Cuba and South Korea in respect of medical staff/supplies and testing kits.
The Cayman Islands Government has established a Coronavirus website providing information in respect of the status of the COVID-19 cases/testing; updates on curfews and social distancing policies; access to the daily Government press briefings; guidance on education/business/returning from overseas; FAQs on the transmission/treatment/testing for COVID19, travel and business; and access to resources/hotlines for medical/mental health support, personal financial support, business support, and urgent/emergency services.
The website is: https://www.exploregov.ky/coronavirus