SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – The Prime Minister Hon. Silveria Jacobs provided an update on Monday evening March 30 with respect to the national state of affairs related to the COVID-19 fight.
The national address is as follows:
Social Distancing Policy
People of St. Maarten, good evening, I come to you as Prime Minister and Chair of the EOC for today’s update, March 30, 2020. It gives me pleasure to enlighten you on the latest regulation that has been put in force today, March 30, 2020, which brings a little bit of structure to St. Maarten’s Government Social Distancing Policy to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus. This temporary regulation is a public order with measures related to COVID-19.
Border Control Movements
In our discussions with our French counterparts, it has been brought to our attention that we needed to be more coordinated in our efforts to control movement in our particular parts as well as across borders. Our Police departments have been collaborating since Friday in carrying out controls at the borders to ensure that persons with their documentation could be able to traverse safely.
Required Travel Documents
As we did not have such on the Dutch side, it was decided that in an effort to have coordination synchronized, we would ensure that our population also had ‘Professional Travel Proof, which is called Form A, a ‘Personal Travel Waiver,’ which is called Form B, and last but not least Form C, which is a ‘Certificate of Exception’ to be able to travel for work from Dutch to the French side and vice versa.
Persons, who at this moment are allowed to work in essential services, should carry as of today, March 30, 2020, Form A, a ‘Professional Travel Proof.’ This is available on our Government website page www.sintmaartengov.org/coronavirus. You are allowed to fill in the form for travel to work for a maximum of one (1) week. You should carry this travel document with you whenever you are traveling to and from work during the week as we are trying to limit the number of persons who are traveling.
For every other movement within our borders, you are asked to carry Form B, a ‘Personal Travel Waiver.’ By filling in this document, you are declaring that you’re either making a trip for essential services, for essential family, to assist the vulnerable, for child care, for making a short trip close to your home for physical activity such as exercise or to be able to walk your domestic animals. If you are deviating from your work-to-home route you should have your personal travel waiver. This document will have to be changed per day.
The ‘Certificate of Exception,’ Form C, is in French and English, as it has to be read by both authorities. This authorizes you, as a Dutch citizen, to go to the French side to be able to work, vice versa or for urgent medical reasons with supporting documents. I’m hoping through this short elucidation that the general-public of St. Maarten understands what the three (3) forms as has been published on our website means. We have also asked all our stakeholders that are allowed to be open, to provide copies as well, at their location. At the Government Administration building, we have also set up the opportunity for persons unable to print the document to pick up blank copies in front of the government building.
Clarification on Business Regulation
I hope this clarifies that we are trying our best to restrict movement as that is one of the best ways in which we can mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In saying that, and seeing the business regulation that came out today, persons were quite confused and for this, we apologize. The decisions taken in this regard, hoping to have met the needs of the people of St. Maarten, we respect that sometimes, not all these decisions come across in the way they were intended. Therefore, this regulation has been retracted and adjusted in keeping with the regulations for closure as well as restriction of movement.
I’d also like to take this time to clarify what has happened today with the posting of the regulation for the opening and closing of businesses as per the Minister of TEATT. It had been determined that we would allow a couple of other businesses to open. However, after perusal of these businesses, as well as understanding that we’re trying to restrict movement, it was determined that we will retract that regulation and republish a new one tomorrow March 31st, 2020, which will go into effect as of April 1st, 2020.
As such, some changes will be noted in that food suppliers, and wholesale and retail will continue. However, restaurants and bakeries will not be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages, so that those going out for take-out and delivery will not have the opportunity to stand and socialize for any other reason than to pick up their food and leave. Being removed from this list of food suppliers are vendors (no one with a vending license will be allowed to open as of April 1st, 2020).
Moreover, the telecommunication and utility companies, while they will be only open for technical services and back office, they will not be open to the general public. Essential government services will only take place upon appointment and insurance companies as well. Other essential businesses may remain open and no other businesses that had remained closed will be opened as per the regulation presented today. This regulation will be printed tomorrow and published for all to see.
I’d like to reiterate that no barbershops and salons will be allowed to open and none of the other new businesses that had been mentioned in today’s regulation. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused. Those services were only going to be included to be able to facilitate persons who may need them. However, seeing the increase in cases, we believe that mitigating the further movement of people is more important at the moment than providing services related to such.
I take this opportunity to update on our cases. At this moment, we have not received any update of new positive cases. Some results are still pending. The count as per March 30th, 2020 are as follows: quarantined-336, isolated-129, we have tested 52 persons of which 6 are positive, 27 are negative and 19 pending. One of the 6 persons are hospitalized and one returned home. However, over the past 24 hours, we now have 4 persons who are pending testing and may be COVID-19 positive. In this, we are realizing that there is still too much movement on the island and that is also one of the reasons why we decided to retract the declaration issued stating that more businesses would still be allowed to be open.
As a result of all the above, I would like to reiterate to the people of St. Maarten, these regulations are being put in place in order to provide safety for you and your family. Schools have been closed, businesses have been closed, and many services that others may consider essential have also been closed. We all must do without these services for a good while because of the way that this virus behaves. Social distancing and proper hygiene are the only ways other than staying in your home, that you can avoid being able to contract this disease.
In your interactions in public places, I advise you to go to that place, do your particular business and leave as soon as possible. The shorter your exposure, the fewer chances you have of contracting the virus. Utilizing good personal hygiene, and hygiene at those locations will keep you and your family safe. I do not advise you to take young children out on these errands and trips. Please avoid that as much as possible. If moving around the country, even during curfew for emergencies, please ensure that you have a document stipulating what the reason is for you to be on the road. We are avoiding people unnecessarily moving. That is what these measures are about. The forms are an explanation as to why you are still on the road. This should be only for work purposes, medical emergencies and only for the use of essential services.
I urge the people of St. Maarten to take the COVID-19 virus very seriously. We are working hard, we are working overtime, and so should you to ensure your own safety by following the rules as a compliant people of St. Maarten that you are. Resilient, strong, St. Maarten people, we continue to pray for the best, but prepare for the worse.
Be safe, stay at home as much as possible, and I will continue to update you daily as these developments continue. Stay safe St. Maarten!