Chairman of the COVID-19 Resilient Corridors, John Byles, says Jamaica’s best hope for containing the spread of the coronavirus will depend on the collective behaviour of its citizens going forward.
Mr. Byles, who was speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank at the agency’s Regional Office in Montego Bay, St. James, on August 31, said the Government can only do so much by way of establishing the health and safety guidelines, and that it is the responsibility of residents to “see something, say something, do something”, if the country is to be successful in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We firmly believe in the collective responsibility of everyone living by that motto… . Silence is not an option,” said Mr. Byles.
He pointed out that with 350,000 direct and indirect workers depending on tourism, “we must do everything in our power to ensure that they remain gainfully employed and in as safe an environment as possible. We do this for them, their families and the country’s economic well-being”.
Mr. Byles said the spike in cases around the island is both unfortunate and alarming.
“The spike did not occur within the Resilient Corridors, which, so far, have proven themselves to work. These geographical locations and systems are integral to the advancement of the island’s tourism. In fact, the corridors have become the basis for which travellers are buying vacations to the island, because it gives them confidence knowing that they will not be isolated to simply a hotel,” he said.
Mr. Byles said the time has come for those in authority to firmly address and penalise those who are not adhering to the quarantine guidelines, “no matter who they are”.
“We firmly agree with the Government taking strong action against those who gather unlawfully in the hundreds at rivers, beaches and at unauthorised entertainment events,” he said.
Mr. Byles said the COVID-19 Resilient Corridor Committee is a true joined-up effort with members of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, the Association of Jamaican Attractions and key government stakeholders.
“We the private-sector stakeholders stand together in our support for the safest operations of our tourism sector on behalf of not only the businesses in the sector but because Jamaica needs these business to succeed, so that the country can succeed in this difficult time,” he said.
The COVID-19 Resilient Corridor is a Government of Jamaica-initiated concept that was developed to protect citizens while restarting a much-needed phased tourism recovery through tightly managed and enforced protocols in controlled geographic spaces. Of equal importance, the corridors also give health authorities the ability to trace and contain the movement of visitors.
To date, three such corridors are in operation – he north coast (seaward side) from Negril to Port Antonio; The south coast with specific locations from Bluefields Bay in Westmoreland, eastward to Treasure Beach in St. Elizabeth and Mandeville; and New Kingston and its environs.