Stewart praises health workers, security forces
— for COVID safety effortsMonday, February 08, 2021
Jamaica's response to the novel coronavirus pandemic has won praise from Appliance Traders Group Executive Chairman Adam Stewart whose suite of companies includes Sandals and Beaches resorts that have been hard hit by the global decrease in tourism.
Stewart, who late last month was elevated to the position after the death of his father, tourism mogul and Sandals founder Gordon “Butch” Stewart, on January 4 this year, commended the manner in which the public and private sectors have been collaborating on managing COVID-19.
“I think Jamaica has managed it better than most. The collaboration between public and private sector, I think we could learn a lot from that collaboration on other critical matters in the country,” Stewart told veteran Jamaican journalist Cliff Hughes on his mid-morning talk show Cliff Hughes Online broadcast on Hughes's Nationwide Radio last Thursday.
“We've taken COVID very seriously; we've kept our eye on the ball economically. I have operations in 10 Caribbean countries and I think Jamaica really has done a fine job of that kind of collaboration,” added Stewart.
“I want to thank the medical fraternity for the advice, for the concerns, for the hours, particularly the Ministry of Health; they have done an unbelievable job working night and day,” he said.
He also thanked the Jamaica Defence Force and Jamaica Constabulary Force for supporting the health authorities.
“A lot of people have put in a lot of work over the last 11 months and we must never forget to be appreciative of those people who kept us safe,” he said, adding that Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, as well as Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett deserve commendation for “striking the balance necessary to keep everyone safe, but keep as many people employed as possible”.
After Jamaica recorded its first case of COVID-19 on March 10, 2020, the island closed its borders to incoming passengers on March 25. That resulted in the closure of tourism establishments which eventually saw the sector losing $108 billion last year.
In May, Sandals announced that it had introduced a comprehensive programme designed to guarantee cleanliness standards and heightened health and safety measures that address changing consumer expectations in the wake of the impact COVID-19 has had on the travel industry.
The resort chain said the measures, dubbed 'Sandals Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness' “will guarantee guests can enjoy their vacation worry-free with utmost confidence, from arrival to departure at all Sandals and Beaches Resorts”.
The programme was established in collaboration with local and international health agencies, including the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Pan American Health Organization.
In August, Sandals said that its properties in Antigua, Jamaica, The Bahamas, and St Lucia had reported zero cases of coronavirus incidents for both guests and team members since the June 4 reopening of Sandals Grande Antigua, the first of chain's resorts to resume operations.
Following on that, Jamaica's Ministry of Tourism created what it termed the Tourism Resilient Corridors, encompassing much of the northern coast, southern coast, and New Kingston.
In these corridors, tourism businesses must be certified by the Tourism Product Development Company for having implemented, to the letter, all the COVID-19 prevention protocols with internal systems enhanced, with governmental surveillance and enforcement to ensure compliance.
Earlier this month, local hoteliers declared the resilient corridors one of the safest places to be as it has been keeping guests and staff safe in line with the health and safety guidelines mandated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Last Thursday, Stewart emphasised that the safety protocols are working.
“We know way more today about the virus than we did in April or May last year,” he said. “We know how to keep ourselves safe; you've seen the protocols work... to my knowledge, I don't know of a single transmission from a foreigner to a Jamaican... I haven't heard anything different. It shows you that wearing your mask, deep cleaning and sanitisation, social distancing are the bedrock of the way forward.”
He argued that “countries that have gone into super aggressive austerity have created a different level of knock-on effect” and flayed the fear-mongering about the virus taking place in many jurisdictions worldwide even as he reiterated that people need to give serious attention to COVID-19.
“I really hope that we can regain our axis somewhat and the fear mongering slows,” said Stewart.
“I believe in business and the power of business to transform lives and allow people to achieve their economic goals [and] now that we know more [about the virus] we have to be able to get back, one step at a time, to the world that we all miss so much,” he said.
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