Jamaica slow on protocols; Antigua sending for citizens stranded here

The Jamaican government continues to drag its feet regarding the development of protocols to facilitate the re-entry of its nationals stranded abroad.

It is now piggybacking on a flight entering the island to repatriate Antiguans stranded here.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said: “Following discussions between Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda, the Cabinet agreed to allow a flight being send to Kingston to repatriate Antiguans, to also return a small group of Jamaicans stranded there. This flight will serve as a pilot of the new protocols, prior to their formal implementation.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamina Johnson-Smith promised that the full information regarding controlled re-entry of Jamaicans will be shared ‘shortly’.

The government, through The Jamaica Gazette, this week said the reopening of the island’s borders to Jamaican citizens will be done from April 22 to May 31. However, persons who enter Jamaica will be subject to 14 days quarantine at an authorized facility.

Johnson-Smith however stated that the commencement of the re-entry process is dependent on the protocols being established.

“The framework will be made operational through new protocols, including an electronic travel authorization process, accessible through the new JAMCOVID website and App,” the minister said.

She further noted that the re-entry will be subject to factors including the quarantine and isolation capacity of the health system.

“It should be noted that, while we strengthen monitoring and enforcement mechanisms for home quarantine, government quarantine will be mandatory,” Johnson-Smith added.

The government closed the island’s ports of entry to incoming passengers, starting March 13, in an attempt to minimize the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Since then, several Jamaicans stranded abroad have appealed for Government to allow them to enter.

Meanwhile, a limited possibility for entry exists for anyone with written permission from the Minister responsible for Immigration, subject to prior approval from the Cabinet.

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