NOT SO: Gov’t says no one denied entry to Jamaicans on embattled cruise ship

The Marella Discovery II in Port Royal in January.

The Holness administration is denying reports that 43 Jamaicans on-board the Marella Discovery II cruise ship was denied landing on the island on April 2.

The government sought to set the record straight on the matter following the news report on Monday, and after the ship with passengers affected by the coronavirus were denied landing in Portugal on the weekend. The ship was on its way to the UK where it will seek landing.

According to the Holness administration, the ship in question withdrew its request for the repatriation of the Jamaicans on-board. In a statement, the administration said the vessel did not come into the Jamaican harbour/port on April 2 but was anchored at the California Bluffs, 12 miles south of Port Royal for re-fuelling.

“The ship’s agent made contact with the Port Authority and Port Health Agents, advising of a request for 43 Jamaican crew members to be landed. Between the relevant Immigration and Health Authorities, the agent was advised that the ports were closed and that landing of the crew would require an exemption. This was communicated to the captain. The matter came to the attention of the Emergency Health Operations Committee that evening (April 2).

Andrew Holness’ administration said the Marella Discovery II withdrew its request to land the 45 Jamaicans on-board.

“The health authorities made enquiries of temperature checks and any incidence of COVID-19 on the vessel and further made efforts to identify appropriate available quarantine facilities and resources to support same, to determine if it would be possible to recommend the exemption to the relevant Minister and the Cabinet,” said the statement.

‘…the early afternoon of the following day, April 3, the ship’s agent advised that the request for repatriation was withdrawn.’

—Holness Administration

It added: “During that process, in the early afternoon of the following day, April 3, the ship’s agent advised that the request for repatriation was withdrawn and that the vessel was continuing on its route. The efforts regarding possible facilitation of the landing of the workers were therefore, discontinued. It is surmised that the captain may have taken the decision not to wait for a process, for which neither a guarantee of success nor a timeline could be given, in light of the existing legal restrictions regarding our borders.

“For additional context, we wish to remind the public and advise the crew members who may not have been aware, that during the period when the request was made (April 2 to 3), the relevant authorities were still in the process of trying to locate the more than 5000 persons who entered Jamaica between March 18 and 24, who had not reported to the Ministry of Health and Wellness. This was a high-risk set of circumstances as there was evidence that many of those persons were not abiding by the self-quarantine rules.”

According to the release, the government is now considering protocols to permit the controlled re-entry of Jamaicans when possible, contingent on quarantine and isolation capacity, among other variables. This is until the island’s borders are again open to passenger traffic.