Thu | Jul 16, 2020

McNeill warns of double standard as tourism sector reopens

Published:Monday | June 1, 2020 | 3:54 PM
Opposition Spokesperson on Tourism, Dr Wykeham McNeill - File photo

The People’s National Party’s Spokesperson on Tourism, Dr Wykeham McNeill, is calling for Prime Minister Andrew Holness to immediately clarify the testing protocol for international travellers to the island when the country reopens its borders.

READ: Tourists have choice to test for COVID-19

He said Jamaicans need to understand the reason for mandatory coronavirus testing for arriving nationals up to June 15, but not for incoming international non-Jamaican passengers.

According to McNeill, there was an understanding prior to the announcement that visitors would be required to provide a COVID-19 Passport i.e proof of a negative COVID-19 test result conducted within 72 hours of arrival, but this seems to have been set aside.

He argues that given the fact that the Jamaican ship workers were not allowed to disembark the vessels without being tested, held in state quarantine until the results were known, why would the government allow visitors to enter without any testing requirement.

He contends that this highlights a double-standard that treats Jamaican nationals as second-class citizens.

Furthermore, McNeill said the rules governing the use of beaches and other facilities and attractions need clarification as many of these facilities remain closed to Jamaicans but will apparently reopen to visitors.

McNeill said while the Opposition is generally supportive of the government’s endeavour to reopen the economy to visitors, there should be no shortcutting of the necessary protocol to ensure the maximum protection of the Jamaican society, but especially those workers in the tourism sector who will come into direct contact with the visitors.

He said, “This is not the time to compromise on our standards; especially knowing that a vaccine has not been found and against the background of warnings from public health experts of a second wave later in the year into the next calendar year.”

The tourism sector, McNeill said, reopens amid a curfew order which will undoubtedly impact negatively on the all-inclusive hotels as well as on small businesses in resort areas.

He says this situation needs to be carefully considered in the best interest of all concerned.

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