Tourism Ministry working to ease corona impact on workers - Bartlett
Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, has sought to reassure sector workers that the ministry is working to mitigate the adverse effects of the temporary loss of earnings which will accompany the imminent closure of virtually Jamaica's entire tourism industry due to the global spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Travel restrictions on many source markets and local restriction protocols have forced the temporary closure of large hotel chains and smaller hotels, resulting in the laying off of staff.
"I know that this is a difficult time as we all grapple with the threat of this new, global pandemic – COVID-19. As we navigate these unchartered waters, I want you to know that we are working assiduously to cushion the impact that it will have on you and your livelihoods," Bartlett said in a letter to tourism workers on Saturday night.
He added that: "I have been in constant dialogue with my colleague Minister of Finance to iron out a financial package that can help you in this time of uncertainty and rapid change. All our stakeholders are also working together to develop and co-ordinate strategies for limiting the risks associated with this pandemic."
He said while tourism is extremely vulnerable to adverse circumstances, it also has the historic ability to rebound.
"With that fact, we must look to the future when the sector will be bustling with activity again. In the meantime, I urge you all to keep yourselves and families safe. Please continue to exercise proper hygienic practices and keep abreast of the situation by listening to the releases from the health authorities," the tourism minister stated.
On Friday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness revealed that three more infections of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Jamaica, raising the tally to 19 cases in the island up to then.
More than 275,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed globally, with over 11,000 deaths, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. At least 88,000 people have recovered.
For most people, the new virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with chronic, existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. But the vast majority of persons recover from contracting the virus.