Wednesday 2 December, 2020

Jamaica responds after being kicked out of Barbados' travel bubble

Jamaica's Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett.

Jamaica's Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett.

Jamaica is keeping Barbados and other Caribbean countries within its travel bubble despite a resurgence of the COVID-19 on some islands.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett made the disclosure on the heels of Barbados kicking Jamaica and a number of other island's out of its drastically reduced travel bubble, as part of measures to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Barbados has whittled down its list to just five countries.

"I don't know what the prerequisites are for being in that bubble," Bartlett told Loop Caribbean. "Barbados is a partner but we recognise that all of us are managing the pandemic and we have varying levels of success."

He added: "Jamaica's success compares favourably with the top performers of the world. On a per-capita basis, Jamaica and Costa Rica are among the top in the world — way ahead of Barbados and others. I'm not sure what that scenario would be but nonetheless, we're partners and we keep the Caribbean in our bubble and Barbados is one of the countries."

He noted with a sense of pride, that the Caribbean region is ranked among the most COVID-resilient regions in the world.

Bartlett said Jamaica has been reaping some successes since reopening its borders to international visitors.

Still, he said, there have been a few challenges, as is the case with most everything else.

The minister added: "I think all of us in the region have the same problem of our nationals coming back home. They are the high-risk ones in terms of the community spread, I think all of us are seeing it.

"The Bahamas saw it, Barbados just saw it a couple of days ago and we all are managing carefully because when our nationals come home, they can't stay within the corridors that we establish for tourists. I think that one of the ways Jamaica has been able to manage, in terms of visitors, is the establishment of the COVID-19 resilient corridor which is on the north coast and that's where all the visitors, all the tourists go."

Bartlett said measures have been put in place and are being fiercely implemented to protect the sanctity of the COVID-resilient corridor.

He said every business operating in that area had to prove their compliance with all the stipulated regulations before they were certified and allowed to facilitate tourists.

To date, Jamaica has recorded 920 cases of COVID-19 and 12 related deaths.

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