UK, Canadian visitors who home-ported in Jamaica depart

UK, Canadian visitors who home-ported in Jamaica depart

Staff reporter

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — The over 1,600 cruise passengers who yesterday morning arrived in the island onboard the Marella Discovery 2 vessel were whisked out of the island on chartered flights from Sangster International Airport in the afternoon.

The 1,662 passengers, who were mostly from Canada and the UK, were scheduled to home port in Jamaica.

In light of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, like other destinations, Jamaica has refused to welcome cruise ships to its ports.

However, speaking at a press conference on Monday, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said the decision to allow the arrival of the Marella Discovery 2 — the first cruise ship to call at the recently opened Port Royal Pier in January — was made on humanitarian grounds. He said, too, that the fact that the ship home ports in Jamaica was also taken into consideration.

“I just want to indicate that these persons are not going to be touring within the country, but we felt it was important to accommodate, on humanitarian grounds and others, the transfer of those individuals,” said Dr Tufton.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett concurred with his colleague minister.

“...And it is also a humanitarian move because you can't say to people who have no symptoms or anything that you can't get back home because we also have a host of Jamaicans on vacation and need to come home,” Bartlett argued.

He added that there was little chance of the cruise passengers interacting with the public, as they would have been picked up just as they disembarked the ship, and transported to the airport.

“They are going by bus straight to the airport, under police escort. It's being done under controlled circumstances, pretty much like a quarantine. There is very little chance, if any, of any transmission,” the tourism minister stated.

The passengers, who were transported to the airport in buses yesterday, stepped off the motor vehicles and headed straight on to the aeroplane. Some of their bus drivers wore masks.

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