Jamaica developing protocols to reopen borders

Jamaica developing protocols to reopen borders

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, April 09, 2020

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness indicated yesterday that Jamaicans who are stranded overseas could be allowed to return home, but under strict conditions.

A number of Jamaicans overseas, including some on government-sponsored programmes, have been clamouring to return home following the closure of the island's borders to incoming passengers on March 24.

Speaking at a digital press conference from Jamaica House yesterday, Holness said he understands the plight of these citizens, but that the Government still does not know the health status of everyone who returned home between March 18 and 23 — an issue which is of grave concern.

He emphasised that there could be no mass re-entry to the island as this would put a strain on public health workers who would have to monitor the all these cases.

“Opening up the borders again depends on how well we can have totally under control this unknown population that came, and if they're keeping faithful to the quarantine requirements and reporting. We need to understand their health status before we take in new populations which would stretch the resources. We are now just getting on top of that 5,500 [people who came in] for us to take in a new set, and we have to be certain that this population, which would be in their second [14-day] incubation [is adhering to strict measures]. At this point we really cannot say they everything is alright with that population,” he stated.

Holness said tight protocols would have to be in place for accepting people back in the country, which he added would require a massive logistics operation.

“Those protocols would entail State quarantine, and for that to happen we need to establish that we have the rooms. It requires our ability to trust people coming in, and then we have to have an end-to-end protocol that when you land at the airport and taken to to the quarantine site you're kept isolated from the population and under some form of control,” Holness explained.

The prime minister said the ministers of national security and foreign affairs have been asked to coordinate and oversee the logistics for this protocol.

Meanwhile, he stressed that Jamaica's borders remain open for the movement of cargo.

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