Tue | Oct 27, 2020

Tufton: No approval given for any cruise ship to disembark passengers

Published:Sunday | May 17, 2020 | 5:36 PM
Health Minister Dr Chris Tufton

Health Minister, Dr Chris Tufton, has announced that no formal approval has been provided for any cruise ship to allow disembarking of passengers in any of the island's ports.

This, after it was reported a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship was en route to the island with over 1044 Jamaican crew ship workers.

Fifty-five of the crew ship workers have retained the services of a lawyer, Jennifer Housen, who has put forth the argument that her clients have  constitutional rights and freedom to enter their home country. 

"It is important that the public notes that the request for disembarking or 'pratique' is governed by procedures outlined in the Quarantine Act and the Public Health Act. These procedures are known and utilised by the Cruise Ship Industry and form part of the overall Maritime arrangements of the Government," a release from Tufton read.

Tufton added that the Health Ministry has been participating in negotiations for the repatriation of crew members and that consultations are being held to determine the safest method for this to be done.

"Given the state and nature of the discussions, there was no reason to believe that a ship could be on its way to Jamaica without the knowledge and consent of the Government," Tufton highlighted.

According to the Health Minister, the Government must ensure the safety of all parties involved and the requisite resources be put in place to enable the staff within the public health system to respond to all eventualities. 

Tufton says the Government stands ready to ensure that all citizens are returned to the island and is making every effort to mobilise the resources required to reduce or eliminate the risks associated with the repatriation exercise.

"The Government is ensuring that all support can be provided once agreement has been reached on the terms and date of arrival in accordance with the appropriate international laws and the laws of Jamaica," the release from the Ministry of Health said.

Earlier today, opposition spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Lisa Hanna, that it was the Government’s responsibility to ensure the safe repatriation of those aboard.

“It almost appears as if the Government, or this particular Government, with our nationals, that's a pattern is emerging because somehow when our nationals are overseas, they seem to be forgotten about; we have to start caring for our people better than this,” Hanna insisted.

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