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The Government has finalised arrangements for approximately 300 Jamaican crew members onboard two cruise ships to return to the island on Saturday (June 20).

This was disclosed by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, who informed that the crew members are onboard Royal Caribbean’s ‘Rhapsody of the Seas’ and Disney’s ‘Wonder’ cruise vessels.

“Because of the risk assessment, these workers will be held in government quarantine until their [coronavirus (COVID-19)] test results are available, before they are sent home to complete their 14-day quarantine period,” he said, in a statement during the sitting of the Senate on Friday (June 19).

He informed that The Rhapsody of the Seas, which has approximately 250 crew members onboard, and the Disney Wonder, with approximately 50 Jamaican workers, will go alongside the seawalk for debarkation.

“The debarkation of Rhapsody of the Seas is expected to begin at 7:00 a.m. and end at around noon. It will then weight an anchor and allow for Disney to come alongside to debark its crew,” Senator Samuda noted.

He further informed that the Port Authority and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade have been requested to compare a list of persons who are still at sea who have asked to come home, and engagements continue with other ship owners to make arrangements for their return.

“We chose to cross reference just to ensure that… there is nobody who we don’t have in the system,” he said.

The workers are returning to Jamaica under the controlled re-entry programme, which was put in place to facilitate the repatriation of Jamaican nationals who were stranded overseas when the country’s borders were ordered closed as part of measures to control local transmission of COVID-19.

The controlled re-entry of Jamaicans is subject to strict protocols, which involve health screening and other appropriate checks where necessary, in order for health officials to complete a risk assessment. The result of this assessment will determine the appropriate quarantine arrangements that returning Jamaicans must agree to for a 14-day period.

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