MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – The Caribbean’s leading hotel chain, Sandals Resorts International says it is closing all Sandals and Beaches Resorts for the period March 30 to May 15, 2020, to protect guests and staff against COVID-19.

In a statement, Sandals founder and Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart described the decision as difficult, but said it will use the time to make further enhancements to its resorts, “so that we will continue to surpass your expectations and provide you with the luxury-included vacation you so well deserve”

“Therefore, we will not be able to accept new arrivals as of March 23, 2020. We also want to alleviate any additional worry you might have about your upcoming vacation. Our dedicated team will be reaching out to you personally to assist with rescheduling your future plans. This way, you can spend less time trying to reach us and more time with your loved ones,” Stewart said.

“The Caribbean is resilient. We have always come back better, stronger and more passionate than ever. We promise this time will be no exception,” Stewart added.

“When the time is right, you can trust us to be here, ready to welcome you back with open arms and a warm smile. Soon come back,” he said.

The brand, which operates 19 properties in the Caribbean (10 of which are in Jamaica), are responsible for thousands of jobs, particularly on Jamaica’s north coast. The temporary closure of these and other hotels means that thousands of hospitality workers will possibly be without an income.

Just last week, three RIU Hotel properties in western Jamaica announced their closure due to low visitor arrival. Some 1,000 workers are expected to be left without jobs during the period of closure at the three affected properties: RIU Palace Jamaica, RIU Negril and RIU Montego Bay.