KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday January 22, 2018 – A State of Emergency declared in Jamaica in the parish of St James, where the island’s tourist capital Montego Bay is located, has triggered the United Kingdom and Canada to issue travel advisories for their citizens in the area.
The State of Emergency was declared by Prime Minister Andrew Holness last Thursday, in the face of a growing crime problem in the north western parish where 335 murders were committed last year.
That same day, the British government advised its citizens to stay indoors as much as possible.
“You should follow local advice, including restrictions in selected areas. You should limit your movements outside of resorts in the area at this time, and exercise particular care if travelling at night. Travel to and from the airport or for excursions should be undertaken with organized tour operators, and transport should be arranged or provided by the resort hotels,” the Foreign Office advised.
#Jamaica State of Emergency declared in St James Parish which includes Montego Bay, in response to recent violence including shooting incidents. Follow local advice including restrictions in selected areas, exercise particular care if travelling at night. https://t.co/WFuJiHEW0d
— FCO travel advice (@FCOtravel) January 18, 2018
A day later, the Canadian government issued similar advice.
It urged its citizens to exercise a high degree of caution at all times.
“If you are staying at a resort in the affected area, restrict your movements beyond resort security perimeters. If you do travel outside these perimeters, use transportation arranged or provided by the resort. Use organized tour operators for excursions and travel to and from the airport. If you are in the affected area, be extremely vigilant, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local news,” it said.
Under the state of public emergency, security forces will have extraordinary powers, and some rights are suspended.
Additionally, businesses and recreational areas are under a temporary curfew. All clubs and fast food outlets must be closed by midnight; all service stations by 10 p.m; bars and taverns are to be closed by 9 p.m; cook shops and haberdasheries by 7 p.m; and hangouts and corner shops by 6 p.m.
In announcing the State of Emergency, Prime Minister Holness said crime and violence, in particular murders, have been escalating in St James.
“I have been advised by the security forces, in writing, that the level of criminal activity experiences, continued and threatened, is of such a nature, and is so extensive in scale as to endanger public safety,” he said at the time.