By Caribbean News Global contributor
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Prime minister Andrew Holness has announced new curfew hours, from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., seven days per week, effective Friday, October 29; explained that with this adjustment, “Sunday will no longer be a no-movement day”.
“This new curfew will remain in effect until December 10, 2021. I will have some consultations with interest groups, and I will definitely call up the leader of the opposition, Mark Golding early so that we can have a consensus as to what to do [during] Christmas,” said Holness.
The existing work-from-home directive in the public sector remains in place until December 9, subject to review in three weeks. “Depending on the level of increase in our vaccination rate (and) continued decrease in the positivity rate, then we could come back with even better news,” expressed prime minister Holness.
$40 million genome sequencing machine
Meantime, the government of Jamaica has equipped the public health system to manage the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and future emergencies, with a $40 million genome sequencing machine at the National Influenza Centre (NIC) at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) in St Andrew on Friday, October 22.
“There will always be adverse events outside of our control” and the government must be “deliberate and systematic in building our resilience and investing in our capacity to understand future shocks, and this is exactly what we are doing. We are enhancing our national capacity to test for not only new variants that cause COVID-19, but for other viruses that may emerge in the future,” said Holness.
The Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) has also announced the secure return of cruise operations at all the island’s ports by early December 2021.
“The port of Ocho Rios has enjoyed a steady schedule of calls since the restart of operations in August, with visits by Carnival Sunrise and MSC Meraviglia, and these should continue throughout the season. Port Royal will host several ships from ultra-luxury premium cruise lines this season, including calls from Holland America Cruise Line – Nieuw Statendam & Nieuw Amsterdam; Crystal Cruises – Crystal Serenity & Crystal Symphony; and Seabourn Cruise Line – Seabourn Ovation, which is a brand-new ship from Saga Cruises (Spirit of Adventure),” reports JIS.
Further, “Marella, which was the first ship to call at the historic Naval Dockyard in January 2020, returns with four more calls this season. Several inaugural calls are also scheduled, including one of the newest ships from MSC Cruises, the MSC Seashore, which will call at the historic Falmouth Port in November, and the Spirit of Adventure, which will call at Port Royal in March.”
Meanwhile, United States-based Frontier Airlines has announced plans to increase the number of weekly flights to Jamaica, beginning November 1.
Frontier Airlines, which is headquartered in Denver, Colorado, USA, has a total of 15 A320 and A321 airbuses that seat 186 and 230 passengers, respectively. The entity operates in about 103 airports.
International Sales Manager, Alfredo Gonsalez, told JIS News that three new gateways will be added to the existing slate, to bring the number of destinations from which scheduled service into Montego Bay is provided, to four.
He said Frontier will commence flights from Atlanta, Georgia on November 1, Orlando, Florida on November 2, and Newark, New Jersey on December 17.
Gonsalez informed that the company provides service to several other Caribbean destinations, including the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St Thomas, and St. Martin. “We will be making some announcements soon [about] flying to Antigua and Barbuda, and Aruba, as well as Belize,” he noted, the prospect of expanding service to Jamaica, particularly to Kingston, “depends on how we look at the numbers”.
Noting that it takes about 60 to 90 days to determine passenger source when a new destination/route is established, he advised that “we will do the same thing when we start the new flights to Jamaica, it’s all going to be based on how the market [responds]. The pandemic has changed a lot of the dynamics … in the airline industry and we are planning differently … based on demand [and] what the customers are looking for,” Gonsalez explained.