Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, says the government has stepped in to help Jamaican hospitality workers who were stranded at an airport in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States due to cancelled flights.
The cancellations came as Jamaica restricted incoming passenger travel in a bit to limit more imported COVID-19 cases.
More than 100 Jamaicans workers turned up at the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport between March 24 and 25 to catch flights home but were left stranded.
In a statement today, Johnson Smith noted that these individuals were working in the hospitality industry through private agency arrangements and that some had recently made individual efforts to return home.
She points out that all Jamaican hotel workers on the government work programme had returned to the island over the last week, according to information from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
The foreign affairs minister says through cooperation among the Consul General in New York, in Miami and the Honorary Consul in Atlanta, arrangements were made to assist the stranded Jamaicans.
Johnson Smith says for those who did not have friends or family in Atlanta with whom they could stay, the Ministry team secured the agreement of the relevant airlines to reroute the Jamaicans to appropriate cities at no charge.
She notes that the team had to secure for some, the agreement of their employers to either take them back on the job or to secure accommodations for them.
She says the Jamaicans departed the airport about 6:00 p.m Wednesday evening, and are currently being housed in Wisconsin, Chicago, Miami, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Utah and Panama City.
Johnson Smith also added that the ministry team received another report today that four more persons flew into Atlanta and were stranded.
She said the Honorary Consuls assisted them and they are safe and accommodated.
“It is a very trying time for all of us and our nationals remain our top priority,” said Johnson Smith.
“ They are now safe and some of them have sent voice notes and Whatsapp messages expressing gratitude,” she added.