As at June 19, some 6,898 persons had returned to Jamaica and had been landed, since the start of the Controlled Re-Entry Programme.
This was disclosed by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, in a statement providing an update on the programme during the sitting of the Senate on Friday (June 19).
Since the Minister’s announcement, over 300 ship workers returned to the island on Saturday, June 20.
The controlled re-entry programme was put in place to facilitate the repatriation of Jamaican nationals who were stranded overseas when the country’s borders were ordered closed in March as part of measures to control local transmission of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Applications for this travel authorisation process are done through an online immigration portal on the jamcovid19.moh.gov.jm website and via the JAMCOVID app available for mobile devices. Non-residents can also seek permission to enter the country through the Visit Jamaica online portal.
“As of June 19, we have managed 19,312 applications from residents through the JAMCOVID portal and just over 2,700 from non-residents through the Visit Jamaica portal. We have 13,846 persons approved for travel in the JAMCOVID system, and 976 persons who have registered but not yet completed the application process,” the Minister informed the Senate.
He noted that the issues that were encountered in trying to locate persons who had entered the country just before the borders were closed, also necessitated this measure, “to manage in a controlled way, the return of our citizens as well as the entry of non-nationals.”
Senator Samuda further explained that once the application for travel is approved by the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) and the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the applicant is issued with a digital certificate of approval which is mandatory for persons to check in on flights coming to Jamaica.
“This requirement has been accepted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and is disseminated to airlines through their Travel Information Manual Automatic (TIMATIC) system. As such, persons are asked by all airlines to provide this approval before they are allowed to check in on any flight to Jamaica,” he noted.
Minister Samuda reminded that the health screening process at the country’s ports of entry – whether sea or air – is the same for all persons entering Jamaica, resident or non-resident, except for persons coming from countries which have been designated a part of the ‘travel bubble’. These persons are not required to undergo the more in-depth health checks to which other travellers outside the ‘bubble’ have to submit.
“The countries in this ‘bubble’ are the countries that the Ministry of Health has assessed to cause very little risk as they have little to no spread and generally very low number of (COVID-19) cases in their countries,” he explained.
“It is now safe to say that all Jamaicans who wish to come home, can do so, but must follow the process that we have put in place to safeguard their health and the health of all Jamaicans,” he added.
The Controlled Re-entry Programme has strict protocols in place which involves 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 persons must agree to for a 14-day period.