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Cayman Turtle Centre enacts new procedures to deal with coronavirus threat

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Cayman Turtle Centre enacts new procedures to deal with coronavirus threat
15Mar 2020

Cayman Turtle Centre enacts new procedures to deal with coronavirus threat

We are still open, specific services suspended to avoid large group gatherings.

Cayman Turtle Centre (CTC), the Cayman Islands’ largest land based tourist attraction, is committed to the health and wellbeing of our Crew Members, Guests, the Cayman Islands Community as a whole and of course, all of our Animals. The Centre intends to take a lead in all reasonable precautions in this regard, because all our visitors, as well as local residents and our Crew Members, are important and we would like to make sure that none of them are exposed to unnecessary risk. As we monitor the ongoing situation and are in regular contact with the Cayman Islands Government and the official authorities managing the Coronavirus, we continue to implement preventative measures in-line with their recommendations and our own Standard Operating Procedures for such circumstances. The company has taken immediate precautions following best-practice international health protocols and preventative actions, including limiting entrance to CTC to widely spaced apart group sizes of 35 guests or less, encouraging and observing the 3-6 foot “social distance” between individuals.

“We are still open and happy to provide a safe place for guests, locals and residents to visit and find a little stress-free zone. We have a procedure in place of sanitizing frequently-touched surfaces in public areas every hour at a minimum. In an abundance of caution, because it is known that the virus is spread by close contact between persons, we are adjusting the provision of specific services. For example, special events booked at our Centre, such as birthday parties or group events scheduled in the coming weeks will be postponed until further notice. We really appreciate everyone being understanding with our decision to postpone these events and gatherings, in compliance with the nation-wide instructions issued from the Cabinet” explained Chief Marketing and Merchandising Officer, Renee Howell.

The adjustment of specific services means CTC will suspend its Education Programmes where groups of persons are gathered together, and that includes school education trips, shark talks, shark feeding education presentations, turtle feeding education presentations, as well as all our spectator attended private and public turtle releases, until further notice. These changes take effect immediately.

The Centre’s animals will continue to be fed and cared for as a top priority. While the turtle releases may not be attended by spectators, turtle conservation and research are at the heart of the Centre’s activities, therefore the Centre will carry on with its several conservation and research efforts.

“As a government company we have been working very closely with the local authorities on planning and enacting robust precautions and changes to our operations to ensure the safety of our guests, staff and animals,” Tim Adam, CEO for Cayman Turtle Centre, said.

“We have already put many sanitation protocols into action, such as frequent wiping and disinfection of surfaces and disinfecting busses transporting guests booked on the Centre’s cruise shore excursions. We are also asking that all of our guests as well as our Crew Members do their part in helping us in our battle against the spread of this virus. They can help greatly through more regular hand washing and use of hand-sanitiser gel that is available from dispensers which we already have in place at various points around our park,” Mr. Adam added.

Steps have been taken to protect the Centre’s staff members, and procedures have been put in place to ensure the welfare of the animals, including the turtles, fish, birds and other wildlife under the Centre’s care.

“We apologize in advance for any inconvenience, but, as always, safety of visitors, staff, and our animals are our top priority, and we feel sure that all of our valued visitors and guests will understand,” Mr. Adam said.

The Centre is asking visitors to maintain the recommended “social distance” of at least 3 to 6 feet between themselves and other visitors to the Centre, and to be observant of others around them, taking special care to avoid anyone who seems to be exhibiting symptoms such as coughing or sneezing. If excessive coughing or sneezing is observed we encourage visitors to report it to the nearest CTC Crew Member. These guests will be asked to exit the Centre’s public space, they will be provided with a face mask and the proper authorities will be notified immediately. “We ask anyone with flu-like or even common cold symptoms of coughing and sneezing to please stay home out of an abundance of caution. We also suggest they call the Health Services Authority hot-line numbers to seek advice. The hotline numbers are 1-800-534-8600 for FLOW customers or 947-3077 for Digicel customers. HSA can also be contacted by email on flu@hsa.ky for general enquiries,” stated Renee Howell.

Because it is known that the virus can be transmitted by hand-to-face touching, the Centre is asking that all guests entering the park use either the washbasins in the restrooms located at five different points in the park, or otherwise use the no-touch hand-sanitiser dispensers. We encourage them to regularly wash hands while visiting. Each guest is also asked to put their own wristband on, once our Customer Service team provides the wristband at the entry point of our Ticket Counter.

Cayman Turtle Centre’s management is in contact with local authorities, and has been monitoring international authorities. CEO Tim Adam confirmed “We will continue this vigilance, and will make any necessary changes and adjustments to these protocols, as the need arises.”

“We do not wish to cause unnecessary panic and would like to stress that we are taking these precautionary measures because they are in accord with best practice and consistent with notifications by local authorities. While we are following these measures, it is important to note that to date we have not had any known cases of COVID-19 at Cayman Turtle Centre.” Mr. Adam explained.

The Centre is still operating seven days a week, and presently all exhibits are open. The primary noticeable difference at the moment will be limitations as to maximum total number grouped together in any one area or feature of the park. As Mr. Adam explained “Our exhibits and park features are spaced out over a relatively large area, so we can accommodate several separated visitor groupings at a time by limiting the numbers congregating in any one of those areas at a time. By doing that, we can continue to make the best use of the facilities for visitors as well as residents, thereby keeping it to less than 50 guests in any one group.” Visitors and residents are welcome to come for close encounters with turtles through the Turtle Touch Experience as well as snorkel with our turtles in the Turtle Lagoon. There are many other island wildlife features to enjoy including the Caribbean Free Flight Aviary, Blue Hole Nature Trail and Breakers Lagoon with its classic figure-8 Turtle Twister Waterslide.

Should you have an event already booked with Cayman Turtle Centre please email events@turtle.ky.