Caribbean L 22 ife, June 26-July 2, 2020
to return to paradise
By Vinette K. Pryce
The largest Caribbean tourism economy
reopened June 15 with stringent
rules of engagement visitors must comply
in order to stunt the re-emergence of
COVID-19 virus which forced the Jamaica
government to close its border three
Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett,
said the decision to reopen was partly
due to the fact the health sector greenlit
relaunching the industry following a
three month shut down, which helped to
slow a spike that resulted with 10 deaths
and now 50 patients recovering in hospitals.
Christopher Tufton, the health minister
reported that the numbers of casualties
have remained static and with a controlled
reopening the island could ease
into restored conditions for business.
With that assurance the Jamaica government
extended an open invitation to
nationals to return to the paradise promoted
in tourism campaigns.
Travelers to the island are now subjected
to a number of precautionary measures
including mandatory temperature
checks at the airport, numerous sanitizing
procedures, a COVID-19 test, and
agreement to adhere to a track and trace
The minister explained that passengers
may have to wait as many as 72 hours for
the results of the test before receiving
clearance to stay on the island.
Anyone testing positive will be isolated
at their homes, hotels or at a government
Bartlett explained that arriving passengers
will be separated in three categories
– non-nationals visiting on business for
less than 14 days; non-national tourists,
and resident citizens and non-citizens.
In order to safely transition to normalcy,
all arrivals to the island will have to
seek authorization from the government
Despite the inconveniences, Jamaicans
are returning home in large numbers.
Reportedly, thousands stranded by the
border closing were anxiously awaiting
reopening and are now relieved they will
be able to return home.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness said
although the borders reopened to reinvigorate
the tourism industry, he also
wanted to accommodate 8,418 Jamaicans
who are now able to reunite with their
Since June 1 all were granted permission
to return home.
The first American Airlines flight from
Miami, Florida landed on the first day of
the reopening and was greeted by cheers.
Jamaica Minister of Tourism, Edmund
Bartlett. Jamaica Ministry of Tourism
Piloted and serviced by an all-Jamaican
crew, the Montego Bay landing proved a
jubilant start to what could be a robust
return to tourism on the island.
“I congratulate Jamaica on the reopening
of our borders on June 15 to all international
travelers,” Adam Stewart, deputy
chairman of Sandals Resorts International
In making the statement he endorsed
a newly proposed 100-page health and
safety guide the government issued to
suppress the emergence of COVID-19
“From transportation, restaurants,
villa operators, tour providers and of
course all sizes of hotels and resorts, it’s
a world class document that will guide
safely for all in the hospitality sector,”
“The re-opening of the tourism industry
is required for the Jamaican economy
and especially the Jamaican workers,”
He said the decision to re-open was
also driven by the fact the island suffered
considerable financial losses when
it closed its borders resulting with unemployment
of 350,000 workers in the tourism
Another factor resonates with the fact
one third of the country’s economy rely
on the industry.
Although everyone has been invited to
visit Jamaica tourists’ movements will be
controlled from Negril to Port Antonio.
“Business within the corridor will be
controlled via track and trace management,”
Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines
announced plans to resume flights on
July 1 to Montego Bay.
And, Delta Airlines will resume daily
flights from Atlanta, Georgia to Jamaica’s
second city of Montego Bay later this