Chairman of the COVID-19 Resilient Corridors, John Byles, says that as the world struggles to combat the effects of COVID-19, Jamaica has, over the last six months, emerged as a leader in the fight against the pandemic.
Speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank at the agency’s Montego Bay Regional Office on August 31, Mr. Byles said that despite the recent spike in the COVID-19 numbers across the world, it should be remembered that the early and decisive actions taken by “our government” are being hailed as an example to be followed.
Mr. Byles, who is also Executive Director of Chukka Caribbean Adventures, pointed out that Jamaica was the first to unveil COVID-19 Resilient Corridors, to promote the safety of visitors and Jamaicans.
He said that it has reached a stage where a zero-tolerance approach for COVID-19 breaches will have to be adopted, and that “respect and doing what is right” will have to be practised.
“If you respect me, then you will wear your mask when greeting me or… within close proximity to me. If you respect me or respect others, you will follow the health and safety guidelines as opposed to flouting them or showing scant regard for what has been carefully and meticulously put in place by our health experts,” Mr. Byles emphasised.
He pointed out that after extensive stakeholder consultation, to include tourism players in both the public and private sectors, a considerable amount of time, money and resources were put into implementing robust COVID-19-prevention protocols, which were, and continue to be, subjected to strong regulatory inspections.
Mr. Byles reminded that licensed hotels, attractions and tourist transport operators undertook a collective approach to construct the corridors, ensuring that they became trusted and protected zones comprising approximately 80 per cent of the island’s tourism businesses.
He said that foreign and local visitors staying in the corridors are now experiencing the safest vacation spots anywhere in the world, with the use of personal protective equipment, sanitisation and physical distancing protocols now a way of life.
“The established protocols have, since the reopening of the tourism sector on June 15, proven to be extremely effective barriers for transmission of the virus, while at the same time allowing us to restart not only our sector but giving Jamaica’s economy a chance to stave off a depression that is more than possible due to COVID-19,” Mr. Byles said.
The COVID-19 Resilient Corridors is a Government of Jamaica-initiated concept that was developed to protect citizens whilst 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: The 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.