THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
JAMAICA’S OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM NEGATIVELY IMPACTED BY COVID-19
According to Mike Henry, Jamaica’s Minister of Labor and Social Security, the overseas employment program has suffered significantly from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of workers who were slated to travel to Canada and the United States in March 2020 fell by 65 percent and 75 percent, respectively, compared to previous years. Changes implemented by host nations in preparing guidance and establishing protocols by which workers could travel strongly impacted Jamaica’s overseas work program. Henry expects the program to experience continued impacts due to proclamations from the US White House targeting at suspending the entry of workers who are thought to present a risk to the country. This means hospitality workers will not be able to travel to the US until after the end of 2020.
HOTEL AND TOURIST GROUP OPPOSES CLOSING BORDERS TO TRAVELERS FROM U.S.
The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) announced that it would not advocate for closing the nation’s borders to visitors from the United States. The group has called for enhancing and strengthening mitigation measures related to COVID-19 instead. The JHTA has specifically distanced itself from activities such as those imposed by the Bahamas in which that island’s government plans to ban flights from the US. According to Omar Robinson, president of the JHTA, 70 percent of Jamaica’s visitors come from the US, with as many as 24 flights per day arriving in Montego Bay and Kingston. Robinson stated that the group believes all US travelers to Jamaica should be pretested and that broadening access to coronavirus testing would support other strong protocols being put in place by hotels and tourist-related establishments on the island. JHTA is advocating for the use of the rapid antigen test to meet this goal.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
CHINA OFFERS LOAN TO CARIBBEAN, LATIN AMERICA TO ENSURE ACCESS TO COVID-19 VACCINE
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that his country had offered a $1 billion loan to the Caribbean and Latin America for access to Covid-19 vaccines. He said the vaccine developed in China will be a “public benefit of universal access” and that the nation will mark $1 billion for a loan to support the Caribbean and Latin American region’s access to the vaccine. Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, noted that China and countries in the Caribbean and Latin America have “stood together” against the virus as a common enemy and will continue to fight the pandemic jointly to build a community built on mutual trust and multilateralism for the future of the region.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
POLICE IN LONDON INVESTIGATE DAMAGE TO SELASSIE STATUE IN CITY PARK
London police stated that they are investigating the damage done to a statue of former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, which appears to have been committed by a group of some 100 men in Cannizaro Park in Wimbledon. Selassie is revered by Jamaican Rastafarians. The damage to the statue occurred shortly after two days of protest in Ethiopia following the murder of Hachalu Hundessa, a popular singer who political songs expressed the grievances of the Oromo people. Selassie lived in Wimbledon in 1936 after his country was invaded by forces from Italy. The statue was the work of Selassie’s former host, the sculptor Hilda Seligman. It originally stood on the grounds of London House where Selassie lived, but was moved later to the neighboring park. The Wimbledon Society heritage group restored the statue in 2005 to address its disrepair.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
COVID-19 CREATES DECLINE IN BUSINESS, CONSUMER CONFIDENCE
The global Covid-19 pandemic is having a serious impact on the local economy of Jamaica. It has resulted in social disruption, shutdowns in multiple business sectors, and a downturn in consumer confidence, according to findings from the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) business and consumer confidence indexes. The consumer confidence index showed a declining trend over the past two quarters, dropping from 180.1 points in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 172.9 points and 165.2 points, respectively, the first to quarters of 2020. The results indicated that the most common impact of the pandemic on consumers involved job loss, lower income, and limitations on movement. The current job index fell from 62 points in the first quarter to 25 points in the second quarter of the year.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
HOLNESS MARKS PASSING OF SINGER “DOBBY” DOBSON
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness sent his condolences to the friends and family of the beloved singer, Highland “Dobby” Dobson, who died on July 21, 2020, in Florida. He was 78 years old. Holness remembers how Dobson began his music career while at Kingston College in the 1950s. Dobson was called the “Loving Pauper” after one of his best-known tunes. He made the Jamaican charts in 1968 with the song “Seems I’m Losing You,” which was produced by Clement “Coxsone” Dodd. He received the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer (OD) in 2011 for his contribution to reggae music and Jamaican culture.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
GUNNING DETERMINED TO REPRESENT JAMAICA AT 2021 OLYMPICS
Michael Gunning, Jamaican swimmer, continues to focus on preparing to compete at the Olympics, despite the postponing of the Tokyo 2020 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gunning is adamant about being a role model as a black LGBTQ swimmer when the games resume on the rescheduled date in 2021. Gunning’s participation as a member of the Jamaican Olympic team in 2020 would have been a major step forward for LGBTQ representation at the national and local levels. His participation in 2020 would have come only 14 years after Time Magazine labeled Jamaica as the “most homophobic place on earth.” Things have improved on the island since then, and LGBTQ rights continue to progress. Gunning believes Jamaica will accept LGBTQ people eventually and laws against them will change. He believes that having role models is important in reaching this goal. Gunning is the Jamaican national record holder in 200-meter butterfly and the 200-meter and 400-meter freestyle events, which already positions him as a role model for his country.