Phased reopening of border from June 1
The phased reopening of Jamaica’s border is to begin on Monday, June 1 with the repatriation of Jamaican nationals, while international travellers are to be welcomed as of June 15.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the announcement on Sunday during a digital press conference from Jamaica House during which he updated the nation on steps being taken by the Government to relax restriction measures that have been put in place since March to stem the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the island.
He said the Government is to move to implement new controlled re-entry protocols based on risk assessments of the countries from which persons are seeking to re-enter Jamaica. The Administration is also considering the travel routes that these persons intend to take.
“Countries that have a similar management and profile result for the epidemic, regarding spread, death rate, infection prevention and control measures, contact tracing protocols and other such criteria, could constitute a travel bubble that determine the protocols that would apply to their re-entry,” Holness explained.
Such countries include those in the Caribbean, most likely those that make up the CARICOM bloc, as well as the Cayman Islands and Anguilla.
Holness said persons seeking to re-enter Jamaica from countries within this travel bubble may not need to be tested on arrival. However, they would be subjected to health status screening, including temperature checks and observation for any symptoms of the coronavirus.
Additionally, all persons entering the country must go through a sensitisation programme with public health officials using flyers as well as audio visual aids.
Holness said the Government is also considering the introduction of a pledge document that all persons entering the country would need to sign “just as a sign of good faith that they will observe the protocols here that all Jamaicans have been observing, and that have served us well.”
He said between June 1 and 14, all persons seeking to enter Jamaica will be subjected to testing, except for those entering from a country within the travel bubble. Jamaicans returning from countries that are not considered part of the travel bubble will be subjected to testing and home quarantine for 14 days with either phone or wrist band geofencing.
For non-Jamaicans entering the country as of June 15, testing upon arrival will be subject to the result of the public health screening at the port of entry.
All persons entering Jamaica, however, will be encouraged to undergo voluntary testing at the port of entry, or they can make an appointment on the Jam-Covid App to be tested.
The prime minister cautioned that the opening up of the border is likely to result in an increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases which up to Sunday, May 31, stood at 586.
“We must use our available resources in a targeted way to manage and mitigate the risk,” the prime minister said, adding that “We do not have the resources to entirely eliminate the risk”.