Thursday 2 July, 2020

PNP warns of 'second class treatment' for Jamaicans as tourism reopens

Dr Wykeham McNeill

Dr Wykeham McNeill

The People’s National Party’s (PNP) Shadow Minister of Tourism, Dr Wykeham McNeill is calling on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to clarify immediately the testing protocol for international travellers to the island when the country re-opens its borders.

In a news release Monday, McNeill said Jamaicans "need to understand the reason for mandatory coronavirus testing for arriving nationals up to June 15, but not for incoming international non-Jamaican passengers."

McNeill said there was an understanding prior to the announcement that visitors would be required to provide a COVID-19 Passport (proof of a negative COVID-19 test result conducted within 72 hours of arrival), but this seems to have been set aside in the announcement by the prime minister.

He questioned - given the fact, he said, that the Jamaican ship workers were not allowed to disembark the vessels without being tested and held in state quarantine until the results were known - why would the government allow visitors to enter without any testing requirement.

"This establishes a double-standard which treats our Jamaican nationals as second-class citizens," he remarked in the release.

McNeill also said the rules governing the use of beaches and other facilities and attractions need clarification as many of these facilities remain closed to Jamaican patrons "but will apparently re-open to our visitors."

He said while the Opposition is generally supportive of the government’s endeavour to re-open the economy to visitors, there should be no shortcutting of the necessary protocol to ensure the maximum protection of the Jamaican society, but especially those workers in the tourism sector who will come into direct contact with the visitors.

“This is not the time to compromise on our standards; especially knowing that a vaccine has not been found and against the background of warnings from public health experts of a second wave later in the year into the next calendar year,” the shadow minister said.

The tourism sector, he said, re-opens amid a curfew order which he added will undoubtedly impact negatively on the all-inclusive hotels as well as on small businesses in resort areas. This situation needs to be carefully considered in the best interest of all concerned, he said.

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