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Travel warning: Canada warns of ‘state of emergency’ in Jamaica

A surge of gang violence has prompted the warning.
Canadians may want to reconsider their travel plans due to the Jamaica travel advisory in December 2022.

The Canadian government warns travellers that Jamaica has reinstated its state of emergency due to high levels of violence in the country. 

The Jamaican government reinstated the state of emergency on Dec. 6 due to increased violence and gang-related crimes in various parishes. It will be in effect until Dec. 19 but may be reinstated again at that time.

While the state of emergency is in effect, security forces have "increased rights to conduct searches, seizures, and detain persons of interest," warns the Canadian government in an updated travel advisory

Tourists are advised that "violent crime, including armed robbery and murder, is a problem in large cities and tourist areas, including parts of Kingston and Montego Bay, despite the presence of police to counter criminal activity."

There is a risk that travellers will also be caught in gang-related crossfires, as the risk of firearms is widespread in Jamaica. 

What to know about travelling from Canada with the Jamaica travel advisory

If you plan to travel to Jamaica during the travel advisory, you may be subject to searches by security forces.

  • Always cooperate with military and police officers
  • Carry valid ID at all times and be prepared for various checkpoints
  • Allow extra time to reach your destination
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local news to stay informed on the current situation

If you are threatened by robbers, hand over any cash and valuables, as "resistance may provoke the use of violence." 

Women travelling alone are frequently harassed. Compounds are "gated and guarded" and therefore generally safer. However, there have also been reports of sexual assaults by resort staff and other tourists. 

  • Be wary of strangers who seem friendly
  • Refrain from excessive drinking, especially at all-inclusive resorts
  • Ensure that your hotel room doors and windows are locked

When it comes to purchasing travel insurance, Canadians should consider that most policies include a clause that outlines government travel advisories. You may not be entitled to reimbursement for trip cancellation if you purchase a holiday while the warning is in place.