Jamaicans Given More Time to Return to Island Under COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (right) with Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton. (Photo: JIS)

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday March 23, 2020 – Jamaicans overseas who had initially been given until last Saturday to return to the island now have until tomorrow to get back home.

The announced restriction came into effect at midnight last Saturday, as a measure to stem the imported cases of the new Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). But Prime Minister Andrew Holness subsequently signed an order under the Risk Management Act (Enforcement Measures) 2020 that will allow entry to Jamaican citizens while restricting other passenger entry.

A statement from the Government said Holness signed the order after consultations and careful consideration for those citizens who would have previously booked a return travel to the island prior to the announcement of restrictions on all incoming passenger vessels for 14 days.

The signed enforcement measure means that Jamaicans employed on contract in overseas programmes between the Government and a private entity, those privately employed, seamen, airline crew and Jamaican citizens who had booked a ticket before March 20, will now have until March 24 to return to the island.

But Government has advised that all returning citizens must adhere to a period of quarantine upon arrival in the island, which now has 19 cases of the virus that originated in China late last year but has since spread across the globe.

In announcing the restrictions, Prime Minister Holness said they were being implemented to contain community spread of COVID-19.

“We are cognizant that as the epidemic progresses through its natural phases that it is not a matter of if we will reach community spread; it’s just a matter of when. It is a part of the epidemic, so there are some measures that we have to take to ensure, on the same principle of flattening the curve, that we prevent any wide-scale outbreak or spread,” he had said.

“We deliberated very carefully. It was always on the books that the airports would have to be closed. Jamaica is not the only one doing it.”

Incoming and outgoing cargo vessels are not restricted under the measures.

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