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Bartlett names special task force to boost COVID-19 testing capacity

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, has named a special task force to spearhead efforts to boost Jamaica's COVID-19 testing capacity in light of the growing demand for such tests fuelled by new travel requirements in key tourism source markets.

The task force is led by the minister and includes president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Clifton Reader; first vice-president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and former president of the JHTA, Nicola Madden-Greig; chairman of the Tourism Product Development Company, Ian Dear; deputy chairman of the Sandals Group and chairman of the Tourism Linkages Network Council, Adam Stewart; executive director of Chukka Caribbean Adventures and chairman of the COVID-19 resilient corridor management team, John Byles; and senior advisor and strategist in the Ministry of Tourism, Delano Seiveright.

The announcement comes as Bartlett revealed that urgent steps are being taken to ramp up Jamaica's COVID-19 testing capacity in light of changes in testing requirements by the United States, which is the country's largest tourism source market.

"This task force will work along with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and tourism stakeholders, both within the public and private sectors, to boost Jamaica's capacity to facilitate widescale COVID-19 testing for visitors to the island. We will also undertake extensive consultation with our local and international tourism partners to develop and introduce innovative solutions to effectively address this challenge," Bartlett said.

Bartlett also expressed confidence in this collaborative approach.

“This unified approach has proven to be very effective in managing the pandemic to date, and has been crucial to our success in introducing our COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols that have been endorsed by the World Travel and Tourism Council, as well as our COVID-resilient corridors. I am therefore confident that working in collaboration with our stakeholders, we will be successful,” he said.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday issued an order requiring all airline passengers from international destinations to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding flights to the US. The new order is slated to take effect on January 26, 2021.

This follows the introduction of a similar COVID-19 test requirement by Canada and the United Kingdom, which requires all passengers flying to these countries to present negative test results in order to facilitate entry or avoid self-quarantine.