October 20, 2021

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Will Jamaica go on the red list? How many Covid cases there are as travel advice changes for amber country

3 min read

There are fears that Jamaica is at risk of being added to the red list at the next travel review, after the Foreign Office updated its guidance to advise against all non-essential travel to the Caribbean island.

Covid-19 cases have been rising significantly in Jamaica, and some experts predicted it would turn red at last week’s review before it remained on the amber list.

Holiday firm TUI has cancelled holidays to the country because of the change in Foreign Office guidance.

This advice and the Department for Transport’s traffic light system operate separately.

In event of cancellations, holidaymakers are often only entitled to a refund or insurance cover depending on the Foreign Office guidance, rather than the traffic light system.

The Foreign Office now advises against “all but essential travel to the whole of Jamaica based on the current assessment of Covid-19 risks”.  

How many Covid cases are there in Jamaica?

Jamaica recorded 739 new Covid-19 cases on Monday 30 August. Its daily figures have been rising steeply since late July.

The island’s seven-day infection rate has risen to 159 per 100,000 people.

It is also well behind countries like the UK in its vaccination drive – less than five per cent of the population has received both doses of the jab.

Ahead of last week’s travel review, travel expert Tim White told i Jamaica was among the countries most likely to be added to the red list – but it escaped that fate.

However, the Foreign Office’s change in guidance makes a move at the next update – expected on 15 or 16 September – appear more likely.

If Jamaica does turn red, anyone arriving in the UK from the island will have to quarantine in a government-designated hotel for 10 days, at a cost of £2,250 per solo traveller.

What are the traffic light system rules?

The system is based on the following criteria:

  • The percentage of a country’s population that have been vaccinated
  • The rate of infection
  • Prevalence of variants of concern
  • The country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing

There are currently four traffic light categories.

Green: arrivals must take a pre-departure test three days before returning to the UK, as well as a PCR test on or before day two of their return. They do not have to quarantine unless their test is positive, and there is no requirement for additional tests.

Green watchlist: The same rules apply as those for the green list, but countries on this list are “at risk of moving from green to amber”, potentially without much warning.

Amber: all travellers are required to take a pre-departure test three days before returning as well as a PCR test on or before day two of their return. Travellers who are not fully-vaccinated must also self-isolate for 10 days and take a second PCR test on day eight of their return. An optional day-five test can be taken, with a negative result allowing travellers to “test out” of quarantine, but the day eight test must still be taken regardless of the result.

Red: arrivals must undertake a 10-day quarantine in a managed hotel at a cost of £2,285 per adult, as well as pre-departure testing, and mandatory PCR testing on or before day two and on or after day eight.

TUI cancels holidays

TUI announced over the bank holiday weekend that it would be cancelling all holidays to Jamaica. 

In a statement posted on its website, the company said: “Due to the updated travel advice from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advising against all but essential travel to Jamaica, TUI UK have cancelled all holidays to Jamaica until Saturday 11 September 2021. 

“Customers currently on holiday in Jamaica can continue their holiday and return to the UK on their planned flight. 

“Customers will be contacted in departure date order to discuss their options, which will include amending to another holiday with an incentive or cancelling and receiving a full refund. 

“We’d like to thank our customers for their understanding and patience.” 

It is unknown if other airlines will follow suit by cancelling trips to Jamaica.

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