Sunday 25 October, 2020

Gov't considers scrapping COVID pretest for North American travellers

Jamaica is considering scrapping the coronavirus (COVID-19) pretest requirement for non-residents visiting the island from North America, the country's premier tourism market.

Speaking on Thursday at a COVID-19 virtual press conference, Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, said the issue has been discussed with Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett as well as at the COVID-19 Cabinet Subcommittee, which is chaired by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

The island first introduced pretesting for non-resident travellers from Florida, New York, Arizona and Texas in July before extending it to all the states in August, as COVID-19 cases soared across the United States. The pretest was also introduced for visitors from some other countries.

It means that non-residents seeking to visit Jamaica have had to log on to the jamcovid19.moh.gov.jm website and upload a negative result of a pretest that was done in their respective country, before being allowed into the island.

According to Tufton, discussions have centred around whether to completely get rid of the pretest for North Americans or maintain it only for some states, as the situation on the continent has changed significantly since the island first implemented the pretest for visitors.

“When it was introduced initially in four states, then extended across North America, it was based on the significant increases in positive rates in those jurisdictions. Today we are seeing adjustments in that risk profile, where many states are seeing a decline in positives and in some instances a significant decline,” Tufton said.

“The inclination therefore based on that assessment is to review and determine to what extent there is a need for the pretesting, either across the board or in selected states and the public health position will be recommended to the Cabinet and a decision will be taken.

“We are looking to have a decision taken certainly by the end of this month for the first of October if possible and it could mean that we will do away with pretesting, if not all together, certainly in regards to certain states,” Tufton said.

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