KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica says it has no intention of following its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) partner, the Bahamas, in placing a ban on tourists coming from the United States following an upsurge of cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Over the last weekend, Bahamas Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced a series of new measures to curb the spread of the virus after acknowledging that the decision to reopen its borders on July 1 had led to a deterioration of the health situation on the island.
Minnis said that as of Wednesday, international commercial flights and commercial vessels carrying passengers will “not be permitted to enter our borders, except for commercial flights from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.
“Bahamasair will cease outgoing flights to the United States of America, effective immediately. To accommodate visitors scheduled to leave after Wednesday, 22 July 2020, outgoing commercial flights will be permitted,” he added.
Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, reacting to the position adopted by Nassau, told RJR Radio that the closure of Jamaica’s borders to travellers from the United States due to the surge in the virus there, would shut down the country’s tourism industry.
He said if Jamaica were to go this route, the economy would grind to a halt and that the island has been managing the cases of COVID-19 so there is no need to consider a ban on US travellers at this time.
“They (Bahamas) have reacted in this way, but it is not about the American tourists per say that are coming into the country. In our case…we have established resilient corridors (and) we have been managing the visitors in these corridors and enabling a better ability to trace and track.
‘So we are watching closely, certainly we are being guided by the science and of course our numbers here. So if the numbers get out of whack, no doubts we will have to take the steps that are necessary. But for the moment for sure we are not there at all yet,” Bartlett said.
He said he discussed the matter with Prime Minister Minnis on Monday and that discussions are advanced here in concluding an arrangement that will allow for insurance cover for visitors to Jamaica.
The majority of visitors to the island have been from the United States and Bartlett said Jamaica should receive visitors from the United Kingdom this week.
In the meantime, Bartlett said wardens are now in place along the ‘resilient corridor’ on the north coast to ensure compliance with health and safety protocols.
“At the moment we have 77 of the staff from TPDCo (Tourism Product Development Company) involved. We also have nearly 200 of our tourism constables that are assigned to the resort areas involved. The Ministry of Local Government is working with us to bring into the stream also some of the municipal wardens, and of course the Ministry of Health has expanded its public health surveillance team, the minister is bringing some 1,500 more on board,” he said.
Bartlett also appealing to Jamaicans to speak up when they identify breaches of the protocols or weaknesses in the compliance system.