New head of Negril Chamber wants return to COVID-19 protocols

NEGRIL, Westmoreland — Newly elected president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce Elaine Allen Bradley is calling on Jamaica’s health officials to revisit, if necessary, measures previously used in the fight against COVID-19 to protect the country.

Her call comes amid reports of rising cases in China which plans to reopen its borders for international travel early in the new year.

“For the period when COVID was high, the health department did extremely well and better than even some of the First World countries and I am very pleased about that. And I think, if necessary, we should go back to those measures again,” stated Allen Bradley, a retired nurse.

In 2020 as Jamaica reopened its borders in a bid to revive the country’s flagging tourism sector and the general economy, safety protocols included curfews imposed as a way to limit movement of individuals, thereby reducing opportunities for the virus to spread. There was also the roll-out of resilience corridors designed to keep visitors and sector employees safe as part of a wider push to live with the pandemic. At the time, the measures were met with mixed reactions with some protesting that they were crippling economic activity while others pointed to the need for the measures.

There was also testing of airline passengers on arrival or asking them to present a negative test before arriving, a move Allen Bradley cited in her call for a return to safety measures.

“We do not want to open up and expose our people, and especially our workers in the tourism industry, to any viruses or anything that would put us back to 2020. So, I think Jamaica should put things in place, especially if people are coming from China,” she told the Jamaica Observer on Thursday.

Earlier in the week, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton had noted that while Jamaica is monitoring developments in China, there are currently no discussions surrounding the implementation of restrictions on Chinese arrivals to the island. He said an update will be given in the new year.

The minister’s statement came in the aftermath of the US, Italy, Japan, Taiwan and India imposing COVID-19 testing on visitors from China following an announcement by the Asian giant that it will reopen its borders on January 8 to allow its people to travel freely.

On Thursday, Opposition spokesperson on health, Dr Morais Guy said the time had come for Jamaica to start having mandatory testing for people who are coming in from China.

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