Bartlett opposes CDC suggestion for fully vaccinated US residents to travel without testingMonday, April 05, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has described as a double-edged sword, the recent suggestion by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that, unless required by destinations, fully vaccinated individuals do not need to be tested for COVID-19 before leaving the United States or self-quarantine after they return.
On one hand, the tourism minister noted that with the US being Jamaica's largest market, it would augur well for the destination.
"So, what it means is that the US is going to lead the world in terms of the vaccinated population in short order and that sounds good for us as a Jamaica where our biggest market is the US. But we have to also respond in terms of our vaccination," Bartlett argued.
He is, however, averse to the CDC going ahead with the suggestion until there is equity in the distribution of the vaccines among developed and developing nations, adding that currently, the US has secured a quarter of the 608 million doses of vaccine that have already been distributed globally.
"We urge that those considerations be kept off the table for now until better vaccination levels are obtained... that is to say we are closer to the normalcy of the 75 to 80 per cent that the CDC itself has indicated to be the standard for global normalcy. This is going to call for some strong level of diplomacy because although we are not making a point that this is going to happen, we are going to urge that it doesn't happen. After all, if it happens, it could put a lot of very dependent tourism destinations at risk," Bartlett said.
Meanwhile, the recent raising of Jamaica's risk assessment to the 'Level Four: COVID-19 Very High' category by the CDC, warning Americans to avoid all travel to the country, was a realisation of Bartlett's worst fears "because we do not have the level of vaccination that would make us into the tiers that would be free for travel as far as these big countries are concerned".
The latest advisory states that: "Travellers should avoid all travel to Jamaica.
Because of the current situation in Jamaica even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to Jamaica".
"If you must travel to Jamaica, get fully vaccinated before travel. All travelers should wear a mask, stay 6 (six) feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash their hands."
Bartlett argued that it will also 'be a hard call for the global community now to accept a vaccination passport as being the global standard by which travel is facilitated".
He, however, encouraged the continuation of testing 'because we feel testing represents the surest way of determining what the immediate status of the visitor is by way of the virus".
"So we think that keeping the 72-hour testing outcome is something that the world should embrace and I think that that along with the vaccination, would be a good measure to help to influence changes in some of the protocol arrangements that we have in Jamaica as well as the rest of the region," cited the tourism minister.
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