(JAMAICA GLEANER) – Several Jamaicans in The Cayman Islands are appealing to the Government to allow them to fly home as the measures being implemented to control the spread of the coronavirus there have been making life unbearable.
The Jamaicans, who went to The Cayman Islands to find employment, told The Gleaner that their savings are being seriously depleted by widespread job losses, coupled with the closure of remittance businesses.
A March 24 order mandated the closure of all non-essential businesses to restrict movement and interactions in the British Caribbean territory.
André Swaby, who lost his job at the start of the outbreak in Cayman, said that like other Jamaicans, he can neither send nor receive money.
He lamented that major remittance entities such as JN Money transfer, Western Union, and MoneyGram were closed, seriously impacting the ability of many Jamaicans and other non-Cayman nationals to stay afloat.
“People like me, who not working and over here, want to come home. We need the Government – Andrew Holness – to free we up,” he said. “Cayman is a low risk, not like America, Canada, or the European countries.”
Up to yesterday, The Cayman Islands had reported 66 cases of the novel coronavirus, with one fatality since its first case was confirmed on March 12, two days after Jamaica recorded the first instance of the virus. Last night, Jamaica’s tally stood at 252 cases, with six deaths.
The Jamaican Government shuttered its ports to incoming passenger traffic at midnight on March 21 but gave a last-gasp extension, which expired two days later. That ban remains in effect until May 31.
“Is like the Cayman government don’t want us to leave with anything. Kinda like dem a say the money must spend here. No sending and no receiving so we could send home funds and bank the money,” another Jamaican, who requested anonymity, told The Gleaner. “ We work here so that we don’t have to be a burden to anyone back home. We just want leave here.”
Running out of options, Swaby says he has sought audience via social media with the prime minister and foreign affairs minister but to no avail.
Swaby also told The Gleaner that he has made contact with the Jamaican Consulate in The Cayman Islands, which has issued an advisory saying that there were no flights being arranged for the repatriation of Jamaicans at this time.
The Jamaican Government said earlier this week that the protocols for controlled re-entry of Jamaicans have been revised. However, no date has yet been announced.