Let’s be clear: Jamaica has re-opened for controlled passenger arrivals since June 1:
The ‘controlled entry’ notion and ‘travel bubble‘ (agreements between countries allowing citizens to cross borders without needing to quarantine) ideas sound great, but, as with many bubbles, they can burst easily. Why? Mainly, because the processes involved are blurred and the overlapping of unequal conditions seems to create a confusing situation. For Jamaica, there will be mandatory 14-day quarantine for returning Jamaicans (with wristband geo-fencing or by phone, if returning to ‘high-risk’ communities—whatever those are), but not tested if coming from ‘travel bubble’ countries:
But, now starts the confusion. Jamaicans coming from non-‘travel bubble’ countries will be tested and can home quarantine.
Non-Jamaicans can enter from June 15, and though the details of protocols are not yet known, the PM made clear that they will be subject to voluntary testing at port of entry.
This is a bizarre set of double standard, where foreigners can enter on easier health protocol terms than nationals.
The report of comments made my health and wellness minister, Dr Chris Tufton, suggest that, as things stand, this plan offers a loophole for Jamaicans who are trying to get back into the country, but would face 14-day quarantine: they could opt to book a holiday and come in as a ‘tourist’. More detailed rules may come forward that closes that, however.
The minister of health and wellness was more graphic in suggesting that the country could face an “exponential” increase in cases:
So, as things stand, to get the economy marching at a faster pace, the sacrifices that locals have made are to be put in jeopardy, and not in the most transparent fashion.
Now, for good reasons, Jamaicans are sensitive to any hint that foreigners get better treatment than locals, so why would the government embark on such a plan, especially as other major travel destinations have indicated they will impose pretesting and quarantine on all arriving from abroad? The argument given so far, that it’s not fiscally possible and physical resources available are not sufficient, is valid, but weak. Rather than speculate on the answer, I’m going to leave the question there and see what answers are offered in coming days.