The Gleaner, Jamaica:Saturday, May 16, 2020 – AS JAMAICA makes preparatory steps to reopen the tourism sector and, by extension, the country’s borders, more stringent measures are proposed to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Audley Deidrick, president of the Airports Authority of Jamaica and CEO of the Norman Manley International Airport Limited, said that operators of the airports have developed measures to respond to the health threats that COVID-19 might present when the borders reopen.
“There will most likely also be a situation where the public may not have the usual access to parts of the airport that they are accustomed to accessing, just to keep the crowd level in those areas to a minimum and other measures that will be developed as we go along.
“We have been having flights for repatriation and other purposes and what we have been doing is using these numbers of flights as dress rehearsal in preparation for the bigger traffic flow, for, if, and when, the Government announces a reopening of the border,” Deidrick said.
Additionally, he said some of the other plans to be implemented to ensure safety amid the pandemic include social distancing and the wearing of protective gear by passengers, airport users and staff.
During a virtual press conference on Wednesday, the health ministry announced that airline and cruise ship visitors to Jamaica might be required to present medical certificates of a negative COVID-19 test, in order to enter the island when the country reopens.
The medical certificate, which should be no older than 76 hours, is among a number of proposed protocols now on the table for implementation.
All airline passengers departing Jamaica should also be tested prior to boarding and their temperature checked by thermal scanners. If their temperatures are above normal, they will be denied boarding.
Deidrick said that based on the additional verification that would be needed, the processing requirement would necessitate a longer or earlier arrival at the airport for checking and possible longer processing time when checking out.
Shane Munroe, the new head of MBJ Airports Limited, operator of Sangster International Airport, said that additional safety measures would also be introduced at the Montego Bay airport in anticipation of a reopening of the country’s borders.
“We have increased sanitisation, especially in high touch areas of the airport. We have introduced signage on all our display screens encouraging best practices and we will enforce the mandatory use of masks for all airport workers and passengers.