COVID-19 taskforce recommends phased reopening of Jamaica's borders

COVID-19 taskforce recommends phased reopening of Jamaica's borders

Friday, May 29, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— The COVID-19 Economic Recovery Taskforce, appointed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, has recommended a phased reopening of Jamaica's borders under "new normal" procedures consistent with public health guidance.

The country's air and sea ports were closed in March as the Government implemented measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The taskforce said its recommendation to reopen the borders follows the recent projections of the PIOJ for economic contraction of 12 to 14 per cent for the April 2020 – June 2020 quarter as well as the latest figures on COVID-19 infections in the island.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health and Wellness confirmed that there were no new positive cases recorded over 24 hours from Wednesday afternoon.

The COVID-19 taskforce -- chaired by Minister of Finance, Dr Nigel Clarke -- in a statement today suggested that international airports be opened firstly to Jamaicans who wish to return, and then to others.

Noting that Jamaica is a very open economy with approximately 80 per cent of GDP from trade in goods and services, the taskforce said it is "...impossible for economic recovery to begin without a gradual adjustment to border restrictions".

The group said it recognises that attaining the levels of economic output and employment that the country had before the virus will take some time to attain once more.

"The path to economic recovery will not be quick, but it should begin now while observing appropriate health protocols," it added.

Meanwhile, the taskforce said it hasestablished a working group consisting of labour, health and productive sector specialists, which is far advanced in the development of protocols designed to protect the health of the Jamaican worker while allowing that worker to provide for his/her family.

These protocols, it said, will be published and disseminated within the next week and, within the view of the taskforce, these protocols will provide the basis for a timely reopening.

In addition, the Ministry of Health has signalled that it stands ready to work with all other stakeholders to achieve the objectives of economic recovery, the taskforce informed.

The task force was established to provide policy and other recommendations that give the best opportunity for jobs and economic recovery in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It consists of 26 members including ministers of governments, the President of Confederation of Trade Unions and others from the labour movement, members of Civil Society and presidents of business groups.


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