Good work, Mrs Johnson Smith, but all's not wellFriday, October 08, 2021
Many Jamaicans were relieved yesterday following news that, come Monday, Jamaica's vaccination certificate will be recognised by Britain.
Last month, the Jamaican foreign affairs ministry engaged the British authorities after fully vaccinated Jamaicans arriving in that country were subjected to lengthy quarantine and testing requirements, just like the unvaccinated, despite an easing of restrictions to benefit vaccinated arrivals. That was because the Jamaican vaccination system was not recognised or approved by the British.
The Government's intervention obviously bore fruit.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mrs Kamina Johnson Smith announced yesterday that “[O]ur [vaccination] cards will now be recognised by the UK.” That will mean that once Jamaicans and others from “approved” countries entering Britain can prove they are fully vaccinated they will no longer be subjected to quarantine, though testing will still be required.
Jamaicans who are not fully vaccinated, understandably, will have to do lengthy quarantine time in Britain as well as undergo strict testing.
The upshot, of course, is that Jamaicans wishing to go to Britain will be incentivised to get vaccinated.
We expect that upcoming entry protocols soon to be adopted by the United States and other countries will have similar effect.
Of note, too, is the appeal from the leading private sector groups to require their employees to get inoculated, and for the Government to begin a phased process of mandatory vaccination.
With more than 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines available, it is time for action, the business leaders said.
There can be no arguing with their assertion that: “With less than 10 per cent of the population fully vaccinated, almost two years into the pandemic, Jamaica is being left behind… ”
So, while the political directorate — inclusive of Government and Opposition — is reluctant to consider compulsory vaccination “at this time”, people should recognise that 'story coming to bump'.
A problem is Government's obvious loss of credibility, especially in recent times, regarding management of the health crisis.
Eyebrow-raising though it was, the tongue-lashing by the prime minister's wife, Member of Parliament Mrs Juliet Holness, of the Ministry of Health's management of vaccines seems to support this view.
Vaccines apart, a number of inconsistencies in the implementation of the regulations related to the Disaster Risk Management Act present an impression on the street of different rules for 'Jews and Gentiles' or 'Medes and Persians'.
Several cases come to mind, but in the interest of space we mention only the recent denial of the Jamaica Football Federation's request for limited numbers of vaccinated fans to attend Sunday's World Cup qualifier in the 30,000-seater National Stadium.
Given the crisis, the Government's decision may seem reasonable. However, those who follow sport closely know that horse racing fans — vaccinated or not — are allowed in limited numbers to attend Caymanas Park on race days.
And at the risk of offending the religious fraternity, worshippers — vaccinated or not — are being allowed to physically attend church in limited numbers on Sunday, which is a 'no-movement day'.
We mustn't fool ourselves. Such glaring inconsistencies build public cynicism/resentment, which the anti-COVID-19 fight does not need.