News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. June 3, 2020: Last night, the Caribbean island of Jamaica still had 266 active COVID-19 cases, with five new cases added yesterday to move the tally overall to 586, but officials say they will reopen their borders to tourists on June 15th.
Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett announced the decision in a letter from the Ministry of Tourism to stakeholders. The minister said protocols in place are “perhaps, the most rigorous set of protocols that could be available anywhere in the world to protect, not just the workers… but the whole country.”
Tourists to the island will undergo only voluntary COVID-19 tests and no quarantine. The news was quickly greeted with congratulations from the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and the Jamaican-owned all-inclusive resorts chain, Sandals. Sandals Resorts International deputy chairman Adam Stewart stated: “I congratulate Jamaica on the reopening of our borders on June 15, 2020 to all international travelers.”
“No testing, no quarantine, only standard airport physical observations for symptoms and thermal temperature checks,” he said on Twitter.
He added that Jamaica’s newly-developed COVID-19-focused health and safety protocols were over 100 pages.
“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 safety for all in the hospitality sector,” Stewart said.
However, Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Kamina Johnson-Smith, said that Jamaicans that want to go back “home” will still have to apply for authorization by using the Jamcovid19.moh.gov.jm website or app.
“We are still in a pandemic. We are intent on allowing more flights to bring J’cans home and therefore also moving to partial home quarantine. You still need Jamcovid Travel Authorization to be landed so your airline may cancel or refuse boarding if you don’t have it,” a tweet from Johnson-Smith read.
While not all major air carriers have announced their plans, Southwest Airlines just said it would be relaunching some routes to Montego Bay, Jamaica’s tourism hub, beginning July 1 while Delta Air Lines has officially revealed plans to relaunch daily flights from Atlanta to Montego Bay this month.
The rush to reopen despite the pandemic has been seen as a need to shore up the country’s tourism sector, which accounts for up to 34% of Jamaica’s GDP, making the reopening crucial.
Jamaica has seen only 9 deaths from the novel coronavirus.
The U.S.V.I, meanwhile, reopened to tourists on June 1st while Saint Lucia and Antigua & Barbuda are planning to reopen tomorrow, June 4th.
The Bahamas yesterday said it will open its borders on July 1st. Travelers should expect to follow The Bahamas’ “Healthy Traveler Campaign” that encourages both visitors and residents to continue practicing social distancing measures, regularly wash hands or use hand sanitizers, and pack appropriate PPE such as face masks, just as they would their swimsuits and sunscreen.
At airports and seaports, temperature screenings for all incoming visitors will be conducted by healthcare personnel. Travelers will be required to wear a face mask in any situation where it is necessary to enforce physical distancing guidelines, such as when entering and transiting air and sea terminals, while navigating security and customs screenings, and at baggage claim. When departing, flights will be scheduled to every other gate to provide as much distance between flights as possible, and greater time will be provided for boarding to ensure that physical distancing can be maintained.
None of these countries have seen new cases recently and St. Lucia has reported all cases there have recovered.
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