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Gov't urged to make pre-testing mandatory for all American visitors

Dr. Winston Dawes, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, Omar Robinson and Robin Russell
 
Medical practitioner Dr. Winston Dawes and Opposition Spokesman on Tourism Dr. Wykeham McNeill are urging the government to go the route of mandatory pre-testing of American visitors.
 
Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Monday announced that as of July 10, persons coming from high-risk areas, such as New York, Texas, Florida and Arizona, will have to be pre-tested and provide physical documentation of such. 
 
Mr. Holness said pre-testing has become necessary because testing everyone on arrival is no longer practical.
 
However, speaking Tuesday on the Morning Agenda on Power 106, Dr. Dawes shared his concerns about selective pre-testing requirements, arguing in particular that it will be difficult to enforce the guideline just for people from certain US states. 
 
"If you want to come to Jamaica and you are coming from one of these other states which is in trouble, all you have to do is drive up to New York and take it there. It has to be mandatory pre-testing or testing at the borders," he insisted. 
 
Dr. McNeill agreed that a more comprehensive approach to pre-testing is sensible.
 
He added that Jamaica should also have persons coming into the country pay for the COVID-19 test if they fail to get pre-tested before arrival. He said that situation would be similar to what now exists in Aruba. 
 
The Prime Minister has said that with the COVID-19 protocols putting a strain on the government's coffers, he was contemplating how some of the cost can be recovered from travellers.
 
                                                               
JHTA wants details 
 
In the meantime, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) wants details on the pre-testing requirement.
 
Omar Robinson, President of the Association, said while he supports the requirement, clarification is needed.
 
He questioned how the government will deal with visitors who have connecting flights through one of the high risk states, what will be the protocol for visitors travelling to Jamaica from July 1 to July 9 and suggested the government consider extending the measure for persons arriving from any part of the US. 
 
Robin Russell, Chairman of the Montego Bay Chapter of the JHTA, said the pre-testing requirement is necessary given the spike in coronavirus cases in parts of the United States.
 
However, he is hoping it will not negatively impact bookings to Jamaica. 
 


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