FOREIGN Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith has moved to caution against the misinterpretation of aspects of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) after news surfaced online yesterday of an ease in travel restrictions on incoming passenger traffic to the island.
“I am encouraging calm and caution to Jamaicans overseas who are taking the literal language of 3(2)(a) DRMA Enforcement Order No 4 to mean that regular travel will now start for our nationals. I know this interpretation is being encouraged on social media,” Johnson Smith said in a Twitter thread yesterday.
“As [Prime Minister Andrew Holness] and I have publicly stated on several occasions, we are preparing to allow for controlled re-entry of our nationals and that this would be subject to new protocols and always subject to the capacity of our system to receive them,” she added.
Several social media users, including Opposition spokesperson on foreign affairs Lisa Hanna and dancehall artiste Spice, posted that the country’s borders will be open to Jamaicans between April 22 and May 31.
“Quarantined immediately, you will have to find your way home. Please wait on further advice/announcements from GOJ (Government of Jamaica),” Hanna shared in an Instagram post.
Section 3 subsection 2 (a) of the DRMA indicates that while the country’s borders remain closed to incoming passenger traffic between the dates aforementioned, this does not apply to Jamaicans.
Effective March 24, the country’s air and sea ports were ordered closed to limit the spread of COVID-19 locally. That order was on Monday extended to May 31.
“Jamaican airport is now open from April 22nd to May 31st. Travel safe and smart (you will be quarantined),” Spice, whose real name is Grace Hamilton, also shared in an Instagram post.
Yesterday, Johnson Smith again repeated that the capacity to receive nationals will take into consideration matters such as the quarantine and isolation capacity of the Government, including spaces and resources for health management, as well as the number of positive cases and contact tracing being pursued by public health workers.
“We know there are many of you who are anxious to be home, and we cannot wait to welcome you safely and securely back to Jamaica. But for this to happen, we need to be careful — for your safety, the safety of our health workers and the safety of the whole of Jamaica,” the minister noted.
She said, as it stands, the DRMA order provides the basic legal framework for the controlled re-entry of citizens.
“The administrative processes and the new Jamcovid app that will help to make [the] management of the re-entry process easier will soon be explained and made publicly available.
“Till then, I am asking everyone to stay safe, keep calm, follow official information, wear a mask, and keep washing hands regularly. Let us not put more pressure on our front-line workers than they can manage. If we truly love and support them, we will each play our part!” the minister urged.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive