Tears of joy as Jamaicans welcome loved ones in MoBay

MONTEGO BAY, St James — The need for physical distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic did not prevent several passengers arriving on six flights from various US destinations, at the Sangster International Airport here yesterday, from greeting their loved ones with hugs and kisses.

“While we understand the need to practise social distancing, I just couldn’t resist the temptation of hugging and kissing my wife who was awaiting my arrival from Atlanta,” one Jamaican, who did not want to be named, told the Jamaica Observer.

“Just to be home and to see my wife and children bring a special feeling to me,” said the resident, who has been away from his native land for more than six months.

He had hoped to be home in April but was unable to due to the suspension of international flights.

For Portland resident Nicole Johnson, it was a dream come true to welcome her boyfriend Aneif Jones home.

The middle-aged woman and her 15-year-old daughter, Chris-Ann Tracey, had travelled from the Port Antonio section of that eastern parish to give Jones a warm welcome.

After all, they had not seen each other since January.

Jones had planned to be home with Johnson and his relatives and friends in April.

As Johnson waited patiently in the arrival area at the Montego Bay airport yesterday, she told the Observer that anxiety got the better of her on Sunday night.

“Believe me, on Sunday night I just could not sleep. I was too anxious to see him. My daughter, Chris-ann, and I left Port Antonio at about 6:15 am [yesterday]. We took a bus to Ocho Rios, then one from ‘Ochi’ Rios to Montego Bay, and we got here before 10:00 am although Aneif’s flight was not supposed to land until about 12:30 pm,” said Johnson.

“Right now, I am so excited, I am overwhelmed. I don’t even feel like eating. We have great plans for later,” she said.

Jones, however, did not emerge from the arrival hall until sometime after 4:00 pm, despite his flight landing before 1:00 pm.

Although a bit disappointed by the long wait, when Jones eventually emerged, Johnson burst into tears of joy as the two embraced each other.

Jones was equally happy to see his lover.

“It’s always good to be home. It’s a good feeling than being locked inside overseas,” he shared.

US citizen Chanell Reliford was also happy to be in the island to see her boyfriend, who she had not seen since early March.

“I am very excited, I have been at home in Orlando for three months,” said Reliford, who arrived on an American Airlines flight yesterday.

Negril resident Darien Bramwell was also on hand to welcome his wife Chrita from Texas.

“I feel good, I am excited. We haven’t seen each other since March,” he told the Observer.

His wife was also happy.

“I am thrilled, I am overjoyed. I almost cried when I realised that I was on Jamaican soil. I will be here for a very long time,” she said.

The island’s airports were closed to international flights for about three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, effectively shuttering Jamaica’s tourism industry.

Yesterday’s reopening of the sector was hailed by a number of individuals who depend on it for a livelihood.

Among them is Jamaica Union of Travellers Association — Montego Bay Chamber member Sherdon Blake.

“It’ a bit risky, but at the same time I welcome the reopening of the industry because for over three months I have been out of work, so right now all we have to do is to follow the necessary protocols and try and make some money,” he said.

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