Taskforce recommends relaxation of measures related to Jamaican borders

May 29, 2020

The COVID-19 Economic Recovery Taskforce is recommending the relaxation of measures related border closure in Jamaica amid concerns that the island’s economy could contract  by as much as 14 per cent for the three month period April to June this year.

It said relaxation of the measures which had been put in place since March as a result of the efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) could include “the phased opening of international airports, first to Jamaicans who wish to return, and then to others under “new normal” procedures at all times consistent with public health guidance”.

The Taskforce said that all Jamaicans have an interest in the country’s economic recovery and public health safety and that these are not mutually exclusive objectives but rather, they are complementary imperatives.

“Workers who have lost their jobs, self-employed persons whose livelihoods are at risk, and businesses on the edge all benefit from health measures that keep them safe and from economic activity that provides for their needs.

“The path to economic recovery will not be quick, but it should begin now while observing appropriate health protocols. The Covid-19 Economic Recovery Taskforce recognizes that attaining the levels of economic output and employment that we had pre-Covid-19 will take some time to attain once more.”

Earlier this week, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said that while the emerging consensus is that COVID-19 will pass, and some countries in the region are already making plans to reopen businesses and borders, the economic impact of the pandemic on tourism is expected to last much longer.

“This is largely due to reduced consumer confidence and the likelihood of longer restrictions on the international movement of people,” he said, noting that globally, the pandemic will likely result in a contraction of the tourism sector by 20 or 30 per cent in 2020.

“The risks and shocks associated with the prolonged downturn in international tourism are likely to be disproportionately higher for the Caribbean, which is the most tourism-dependent region in the world.

“In the region, tourism accounts for between 11 and 19 per cent of gross domestic product, and between 34 and 48 per cent of total GDP in The Bahamas, Barbados, and Jamaica,” he noted.

He said tourism flows are also responsible for similarly large shares of direct and overall national employment, with all three countries ranking in the top 20 globally on both measures.

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