Tourism stakeholders and other business interests are appealing to Jamaicans to get vaccinated, noting that it is the only proven strategy to counter the onslaught of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic.
The stakeholders, which include hoteliers, attraction owners, craft traders, duty-free merchants and transport operators, said that it has become clear that nothing less than a concerted effort and “collective responsibility” will get Jamaica over the COVID-19 hump and a fighting chance for an early economic rebound.
“Our Prime Minister [the Most. Hon. Andrew Holness] has made it clear that it is up to us as a country to determine how we are going to curtail this pandemic… how responsible we are going to be as a nation… as a people,” explained Chairman of the island’s Resilient Corridors Committee, John Byles.
“The Government has painstakingly put together a comprehensive public education programme, including health and safety guidelines, relating to the coronavirus since 2020 when it invaded our shores. It is clear as day that the best counterstrategy to COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and follow the protocols.”
On Sunday (January 9), Mr. Holness reiterated at a press conference to the nation that there will be no further lockdown of the country, a position he had announced more than two months ago.
“I know there is great tension in the air, and what it says to me is that people are not listening to what I have said. I have been very clear in Parliament, very clear, absolutely gone overboard to say that we are not going back to lockdowns, so be calm,” Mr. Holness said.
“I have said what the [containment] strategy is. It is now in your hands. Go and take the vaccine. That is the strategy,” the Prime Minister added.
For Mayor of Falmouth, Councillor Colin Gager, it is now a matter of doing what’s right to protect lives and for the country’s economy to function.
“There’s a delicate balance in how we go forward, and as a nation we [the citizens] have to do our part,” he noted. “It is clear COVID is not going anywhere anytime soon and so we cannot drop our guards… not after all the sacrifices we have made. I continue to urge persons to go and get vaccinated.”
For Ravi Daswani, Owner of the Royal Shop chain of Duty-Free stores, Prime Minister Holness’ position is not only responsible but is also in line with the approach being taken by powerful international countries, including Jamaica’s main source markets – the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
“We have to be responsible and realise what is at stake as we all continue to come to terms with this virus [pandemic], which might be with us for quite some time,” he noted.
President of the Pineapple Craft Market, Ocho Rios, Clare Bruce, said she has long been “preaching” to her membership that there are really “no shortcuts” when it comes to dealing with the virus.
“To their everlasting credit we are now fully, 100 per cent, vaccinated and continue to follow all the health guidelines dictated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness and also the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo),” Ms. Bruce told JIS News.
“What is also clear is that travellers are more inclined to want to visit countries with a high vaccination rate and where they will feel safe. It’s all up to us how we are going to deal with this pandemic.”