As Jamaica and the rest of the world slowly return to post-Covid normalcy, it is essential to note that the Covid-19 virus is still here. Jamaica is currently preparing for a spike in Covid cases as the BA.2 variant makes its way into the population. To control the spread of COVID-19, many measures were put in place over the past two years, including nightly curfews, mandatory mask use, and strict physical distancing requirements. However, as of April 16th, all restrictions in Jamaica have been lifted.
So What About masks?
While news of an increase in cases is not good, Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton is optimistic about the country’s decision to remove the mask mandate and other restrictions. Jamaica lifted its indoor mask mandate policy on April 16th and have removed the requirement for passengers to provide proof of a negative Covid test before travel to Jamaica.
Travelers from the United States only need to worry about providing a negative Covid test for their return journey, as the U.S. still requires a negative test before entry is permitted.
“The mask mandate is not a recommendation not to wear a mask. The mask mandate removal is a policy that says you don’t have to, but if you think that you need to, you should assess and wear your mask,” Dr. Tufton said. “And, therefore, while there is a risk that says you don’t have to, the management of that risk is up to you to say, ‘I will where I think I may be at risk.’ I think that is an attempt at balance, an attempt while doing the restriction removal, an attempt at getting back to normality that we all seek and desire for other benefits.”
The Current Trend
On Wednesday, Jamaica’s positivity rate was 11.6%. The 7-day average was 8.6%, and the country had 129,862 confirmed cases of the virus, and 115 new cases were reported. So far, 2,955 people in Jamaica have died from the virus – 97% of whom were not vaccinated. Although hospitalizations and deaths associated with the virus remain relatively low, it remains a significant public health concern. One of the best things ways to offer protection against the virus is through vaccination.
At a press briefing on Thursday, Tufton argued that the low number of positive cases in Jamaica meant that the Government could take some risks in reopening the country. Tufton stressed taking a measured approach, balancing public safety with economic recovery efforts. Businesses are still required to have hand washing and sanitizing stations available for use by guests, and the public is encouraged to use their best judgement when visiting areas with large crowds or indoor spaces without proper ventilation. Masks are still recommended in areas without proper ventilation or in situations where it is hard to socially distance.
So What About Tests?
The Government will not reverse its removal of the requirement for a COVID test before entry into the country. This means that travelers will not need to get a test before coming to Jamaica. Tufton pointed out that countries that saw spikes in COVID cases now see decreases in positivity rates. The hope is that the same thing will occur in Jamaica. Tufton also noted that it was essential for the COVID-induced ban on the entertainment industry to be lifted. The entertainment industry had been shut down for nearly two years, and it took a tremendous toll on the economy.
Should Travelers Still Visit Jamaica?
The CDC currently classifies Jamaica as a level one country with regards to the coronavirus. This means that there is a low level of Covid-19 in Jamaica, and travel to the area is considered safe. This does not mean that travelers should not exercise caution. The CDC recommends the following when traveling to level one countries:
- Travelers should make sure they are up to date on their vaccines and boosters
- Though testing is no longer required before traveling to Jamaica, travelers should consider getting tested to ensure they do not spread the virus.
- The CDC still recommends wearing a well-fitting mask in indoor public spaces.
- Travelers should also be aware of the requirements of their home country when returning. For example, Americans will still need a negative test before traveling back to the U.S. after visiting Jamaica.
Each traveler should weigh the risks and make the best decision with the information available to them. Jamaica is considered one of the top destinations for Americans each year. Sunny skies and sandy beaches await those ready to visit the wonderful island nation. If travelers exercise caution, there is no reason to fear a visit to this beautiful country.
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