The rebuilding of Cayman’s economy will start with the return of the construction industry, and

on Tuesday the first workers will return to the job sites that were already operating when the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order was first issued. Premier Alden McLaughlin explained Wednesday that the whole sector can’t return as there are around 1,900 registered construction firms, which, coupled with reopened hardware stores, would release up to 9,000 people into the workforce.

The government is therefore going to take a phased approach based on the number of active contractors who were already working on projects in March, McLaughlin said at Wednesday’s press briefing.

The premier has placed great stock on the importance of construction and development to the rebuilding of the economy. With local workers needing to go back to work and permit holders in this sector still here, this is one area of the domestic economy that McLaughlin believes can help the community get through the difficult times ahead.

Balancing the increased risk of the virus spreading after largely managing to curtail it and protect the vulnerable from the disease, the reopening of this sector is going to be a closely monitored, with a focus on testing those returning to construction sites.

The premier has previously stated that the sites will be subject to health and safety inspections. They will be required to follow hygiene and, where possible, social distancing protocols, and management must provide workers with areas to frequently wash their hands and ensure they have access to food.

McLaughlin said that reopening development and construction was key to what government is trying to do when it comes to meeting future economic challenges. He said this sector can “go a long way to help plug that huge gap” with the loss of tourism.