#KINGSTON, May 13 (JIS): The Government has facilitated the controlled re-entry of another 207 Jamaicans who were stranded overseas due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and closure of the country’s ports.
They landed at the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA), today (May 13), under the protocols established for the re-entry of Jamaicans into the country.
There were three flights, which consisted of 94 persons from New York, 93 from Florida, and 20 from Toronto. All the persons will be quarantined for 14 days.
The first flight arrived in the island from the United Kingdom on Wednesday, May 6 with 120 passengers.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, who was at the airport coordinating the work of the various agencies involved in the process, and to welcome the passengers, told JIS News that the persons had faced several challenges while being stranded, and as citizens, the Constitution guarantees them re-entry into their country.
“Constitutionally, citizens have a right to come home, and Jamaica has been managing that Constitutional right, with a public health obligation as well, to ensure the safety of the Jamaican population. That is why our borders were closed,” the Minister said.
While underscoring that the Government had to ensure the return of persons desirous of being home, and that it is “good to have our people home”, Minister Johnson Smith emphasised that the process cannot be done in a way that endangers the health of the public.
“It cannot be that our borders remain closed forever, so we have been trying to implement and manage a controlled process, to ensure that the right to return is balanced with public health,” she said.
Meanwhile, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, who was also at the airport, told JIS News that the new jamcovid website, https://jamcovid19.moh.gov.jm/, which has been set up to facilitate applications of persons who wish to return home, has improved.
The Minister said that everything possible is being done to have persons close to their families.
“These are our people, and we have to do everything possible to bring them home. It is a very expensive process, because we have to facilitate quarantining, but we are doing it as quickly as we can, because they want to come home to their families,” the Minister said.
JIS NEWS by GARFIELD L. ANGUS