The coronavirus pandemic confronted the managers of Jamaica’s open and narrow economy with decisions similar to those faced by other governments – how to protect public health while preventing the economy from imploding.
The dilemma was clear in March to May with slowly rising confirmed cases of the pandemic, closed hotels, desolate beaches, nightly curfews, a slowdown in commercial and industrial activity and projections of a severe contraction in the economy. Continued uncertainty about the extent to which the virus can be controlled has made foolhardy any projections about the state of the post-covid economy. The island has had 864 confirmed cases up to the end of July, of which 10 have died, the health ministry said. Eighty-four of these cases are active. The effective shutdown of the country had an immediate impact on the two main sources of foreign currency – tourism and remittances – that account for a third of the economy.