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DCNA’s Achievements September 2019-2020

SINT MAARTEN/BONAIRE - The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) just released an informative booklet about DCNA’s achievements during the last year. The challenges nature in Dutch Caribbean faces are immense, but together as a network, DCNA’s six member Protected Area Management Organizations are stronger in their common goal of safeguarding nature in the Dutch Caribbean.

The DCNA is a non-profit foundation and regional network created to support and assist Protected Area Management Organizations on the six Dutch Caribbean islands Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Maarten and St. Eustatius. The DCNA aims to safeguard biodiversity and promote the sustainable management of the natural resources of the islands both on land and in the water for the benefit of present and future generations.

The DCNA works with dedicated nature conservation organizations on Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten. By creating a united voice and sharing resources, skills and experience, DCNA is able to strengthen the network and support conservation initiatives throughout the Dutch Caribbean. The DCNA also aims to provide the parks throughout the region with a sustainable funding future.

This has been a challenging year not only for the DCNA but for all of the Protected Area Management Organizations which form a part of our network. Despite this, DCNA has been working hard to ensure that they are able to continue the support provided to the Protected Area Management Organizations to ensure that their critical work of safeguarding nature in the Dutch Caribbean continues.

It has been a busy year at the DCNA, starting with the opening of DCNA’s new Secretariat Headquarters in September 2019 until the work they are now executing helping the Parks respond to the current global COVID-19 crises. A lot has happened including a successful convention, bringing the Protected Area Management Organizations from the six islands, leading nature organizations and scientific institutions from the Netherlands, local stakeholders and youth nature ambassadors in closer collaboration. Other activities included supporting nature education, development of important policy documents, management letters and science communication and outreach.

The booklets were specially developed for all those interested in nature conservation in the Dutch Caribbean and our partners locally and abroad, such as the Dutch Postcode Lottery, Worldwide Fund for Nature the Netherlands (WWF-NL), Vogelbescherming Nederland, IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands, Rabobank and Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. The first copy of the update was sent to the DCNA Patroness, HRH Princess Beatrix, who is very interested in Dutch Caribbean nature conservation.

DCNA sincerely thanks all DCNA’s members and partners, conservationists, scientists and interested citizens. We achieved this together by sharing our expertise, resources, and knowledge and by working with dedicated partners around the world.

The DCNA team will be continuing with its conservation support activities to its best ability considering the current global pandemic.

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Covid-19 infections up by 27% in last week, more than 400 patients in ICU

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The number of coronavirus cases was above 8,000 for the third day running on Tuesday, but there are signs the second wave is levelling off.

Another 8,182 cases were recorded in the 24 hours to 10am, according to the latest figures from the public health agency RIVM, an increase of 171 on Monday’s figure. On Sunday the RIVM announced 8,184 cases, but the figure was later cut by seven and today’s number is also likely to be adjusted by a small amount.

In the last seven days 55,587 Covid-19 infections were reported to the RIVM, 27% more than in the previous week. It follows six straight weeks in which the number of recorded cases has increased by between 40% and 60%.

‘The number of new recorded cases appears to have increased less rapidly than a week earlier,’ the RIVM said in its weekly press release. ‘This may be an effect of the measures taken since the end of September.

Next week we will be able to see if this trend is sustained.’ However, the positive test rate rose again from 13.6% to 14.4%, partly because 3% fewer tests were carried out in the last week.

Amsterdam highest infection rate

Of the 25 regional safety council areas, Amsterdam-Amstelland had the highest concentration of infections, with 502 per 100,000 residents in the last seven days, followed by Rotterdam-Rijnmond (398) and Utrecht (394).

Zuid-Limburg had the lowest frequency with 119. The number of patients in hospital rose in the last 24 hours from 1738 to 1859, of whom 419 are in intensive care. On Nieuwsuur on Monday Ernst Kuipers, head of the national patient co-ordination centre LCPS, said ICU numbers were likely to keep rising until the start of November.

Another 185 people were reported to have died from Covid-19 in the last week, a weekly increase of 35. Some deaths are not recorded in the figures until several weeks later because of administrative delays.

The reproductive number R, which represents the rate at which the virus is spreading, was calculated at 1.22, a marginal decline from last week’s figure of 1.27. The number needs to be below 1 for infections to fall.

The RIVM estimates that between 92,000 and 161,000 were infected on October 8.

(DutchNews)

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Catering trade to take government to court over second wave shutdown

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A group of 30 restaurant and cafe owners are going to court to try to overturn the government’s shutdown of the hospitality sector as part of the latest Covid-19 restrictions.

All bars, cafés and restaurants are closed to sit-in customers for at least the next four weeks, though they can continue to operate as takeaways. Hotels can only serve resident guests.

Catering sector organisation Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN) has said its businesses are being unfairly singled out despite being responsible for only 1.8% of infections, according to the official figures.

A group of business owners will seek an injunction on Tuesday from the district court in The Hague to overturn the measure. Michael Meeuwissen, owner of De Posthoorn wine bar in the city and the leader of the campaign, told the Telegraaf: ‘I have seen that our customers carefully observe the social distancing rules and that they keep a keen eye on the staff.

We do the same with the customers. There is no reason whatsoever to shut us down.’ The catering sector petitioned the courts over the summer to order the virus control measures to be eased faster but were unsuccessful.

KHN chairman Robèr Willemsen said there was widespread disbelief, frustration and sorrow in the industry at the shutdown. ‘The catering industry has been hit deeply and I am very concerned about the future landscape of our sector.

This shutdown will be the final blow for many business owners. ‘We submitted a plan for smarter restrictions to the cabinet that would have avoided a shutdown of the sector, but it made no difference.’

KHN has also called for the government to expand the emergency financial support package to cover 100% of lost revenue and extend repayment terms for bank loans.

(DutchNews)

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Slight drop in coronavirus cases in last 24 hours, more patients in hospital

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Coronavirus infections showed a slight fall on Monday after three days of slower rises, according to the latest daily update by the public health agency RIVM.

Another 8,015 new cases were notified by local health boards in the 24 hours to 10am, the third highest number since the outbreak began but 162 fewer than on Sunday.

The figure also represents a 17.1% rise in the past seven days, the smallest weekly increase since the first week of September.

Another 86 Covid-19 patients were reported in hospital, bringing the total number to 1,738, the national patient distribution service reported. There are currently 379 patients in intensive care.

In the last seven days an average of 25 patients are reported to have died with the virus, compared to 19 a week ago.

Deaths are likely to keep rising for two to three weeks after the infection rate starts to fall. The highest concentrations of infections is in the major cities, with 543 new cases in Rotterdam, 539 in Amsterdam and 313 in Utrecht.

(DutchNews)

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Work on Smoke Alley hairpin bend on schedule

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - With the recent concrete pour, contractor Statia Road and Construction has now almost completed 75% of the renovation work on the hairpin bend of Smoke Alley. The work on the access road to and from the port of Statia started at the beginning of August this year.

The Smoke Alley project should be finalized at the end of 2020. Phasing is necessary to work sequentially on parts of the road, by means of a half lane closure. After completion, the road will meet safety standards for all types of vehicles and be less demanding to motor vehicles. Rainwater will be collected at Upper Town and diverted to a water infiltration zone instead of flowing down into the ocean, limiting erosion and damage to the coral.

The project is supervised by the Directorate of Economy, Nature and Infrastructure in collaboration with Rijkswaterstaat in the Netherlands. The project is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. (Statia GIS)

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Lockdown party on parliament’s doorstep was ‘totally irresponsible’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Hague local council is looking into the possibility of prosecuting a group of revellers who had a party just meters away from parliament, where politicians were discussing the government’s coronavirus policy.

Footage captured by BBC correspondent Anna Holligan showed a party tent packed with people while loud music played, just 25 minutes before cafes and restaurants were due to shut for a four-week period.

Police intervened around 10pm but no fines were handed out. The Hague mayor Jan van Zanen branded the event ‘totally irresponsible’.

These people don’t give a damn about the hardworking people who work in care, or the patients who are in intensive care or whose operations are being postponed. People want to party, that is understandable, but this sort of selfish behaviour will only lead to a longer period of measures.

They are harming themselves and people with businesses,’ Van Zanen said. The owner of the bar in question may also be prosecuted, The Hague local council said. PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher called attention to the party during the debate and called the participants ‘louts’.

‘It shows we have a long way to go if we are to deal with this virus together. This is giving the finger to all the entrepreneurs who are suffering the consequences of this,’ Asscher said.

Politician also took to Twitter to condemn the event. ‘Unacceptable. Keep to the rules and do it for others!’ defence minister Ank Bijleveld said.

Hospitality industry

Dirk Beljaarts, head of the hospitality industry association Horeca Nederland, said the party had damaged the ‘carefully restored status of a safe environment in bars and restaurants’.

‘This is not the image we want to project at this time. It is unacceptable when businesses have given their all in the last two months to offer a safe place to people,’ Beljaarts told the Telegraaf.

Cafe owner John Prins told broadcaster NOS later that ‘I cannot put right what is wrong, but I do think things have been taken out of context.’ Prins said he had put the music out at 9.30pm because his customers could not be controlled. ‘We are not a party café at all,’ he said. ‘I am so embarrassed for my parents.’

Other cities

People were calling for last rounds in many other cities too, with some bars advertising special lockdown offers to ‘empty the barrels’. Bars and cafes were ordered to close their doors for at least four weeks on Tuesday in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.

(DutchNews)

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New coronavirus infections near 8,000, over 300 people are now in IC

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The number of newly reported coronavirus infections in the Netherlands rose by 7,833 in the 24 hours to Thursday morning, further confirming that measures introduced two weeks ago have not had an impact.

The Thursday total is up 537 on Wednesday and takes the average daily number of positive tests in the past week to 6,884, over 3,000 more than a week ago.

In total, 313 patients are now being treated in IC wards, and 1,526 people are in hospital, a rise of 51 on Wednesday. The daily death toll, now averaging around 23 people a day, is also showing a significant rise on a week ago.

Ernst Kuipers, head of the national patient distribution centre said the continued increase in positive tests is a ‘crying shame’. ‘It does not yet seem to have gotten through to people that we are dealing with more than 7,000 infections a day.’

On Tuesday, the government introduced a raft of new measures, describing them as a ‘partial lockdown’. Ministers are also working on rules so it will be possible to make face masks mandatory.

The new measures, which include closure of all cafes, bars and restaurants for four weeks, will be assessed in two weeks’ time to see if there is any improvement. If not the government says it will impose a total lockdown.

(DutchNews)

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Banks say they won’t automatically bail out firms hit by new lockdown

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Cafes and bars which end up in financial difficulty because of the new four-week shut-down cannot count on the financial support of their banks any longer, Chris Buijnink, chairman of the Dutch banking federation told broadcaster NOS.

‘It is in no-one’s interest, not even that of the cafe owner, if they continue to get into debt with no real future,’ he said. ‘It is hard, and it is difficult. I feel for people, but this is the sensible way which we, as banks, help other companies.’

Early in the crisis banks agreed to a six-month moratorium on payments for thousands of small firms, and private individuals could also ask for a halt to mortgage and loan repayments.

Central bank

The Dutch central bank said on Tuesday that Dutch banks are well positioned to weather the coronavirus crisis and can take far more losses before the end of their reserves is in sight.

And banks do want to continue helping people, Buijnink said. ‘But it has to be companies which have future prospects, which are essentially healthy.’

Employers

Employers organisations VNO-NCW and MKB Nederland say new government help will be inevitable in several sectors following the introduction of a partial lockdown and prime minister Mark Rutte did say on Tuesday evening that there would be more help for companies under the existing schemes.

‘The cabinet has to take measures to try to stop the spread of the virus, but it is an enormous blow to companies,’ said Ingrid Thijssen, chairwoman of the biggest employer’s association VNO-NCW.

It is crucial, she said, that sectors which are ‘being repeatedly hit, like hospitality, events and transport get extra support.’ In the first instance, a ‘time-out’, giving employers the option of temporarily freezing their operations would help some avoid bankruptcy, Thijssen said.

In practice this would mean companies would not have to sell their equipment at rock bottom prices but could close their doors until the virus is under control.

Sports

Sports clubs too are facing financial problems. All sports matches with more than four people have been halted temporarily although children can continue to play team sports but not travel to matches.

While professional football will continue, without supporters, the suspension will continue to cost the amateur game some €4m a week, Jan Dirk van der Zee, head of the amateur football at the KNVB, told broadcaster NOS.

Sports canteens were closed three weeks ago because players and supporters were not sticking to social distancing rules. ‘Some 60% of clubs are facing financial problems and that worries me enormously,’ he said.

Hotels

Hotels and tourism will again be hard hit by the new rules and Roberto Payer, director of Amsterdam’s Hilton and Waldorf Astoria hotels, told the Financieele Dagblad that he can now send home the last of his staff.

‘Like other hotels, our occupancy rate is 10% of what it normally is,’ he said. ‘I have already had to let go 200 of our 420 staff members. It is terrible. Some of them have worked for us for 20 years.’

The hospitality sector, he said, is now carrying the can for the irresponsible behaviour of others. ‘Many youngsters are failing to act responsibly,’ he said. ‘And we have to pick up the bill for them partying on, whatever happens. It makes me very angry.’

(DutchNews)

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Positive coronavirus tests continue to top 7,300 as more are admitted to hospital

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A further 7,305 positive coronavirus tests were reported to the public health institute RIVM, taking the average over the past seven days to around 6,600.

Some 1,475 people are now being treated in hospital, of whom 301 are in intensive care, hospital officials said. Most positive tests – 637 – were in Amsterdam, but there were also 558 in Rotterdam and 322 in The Hague.

Officials say it will be a week at least before the impact of tough new measures to halt the spread of the virus begin to have an impact.

Meanwhile, hospital chiefs are warning that accident and emergency departments have been closed on occasion in the three big cities because of the number of coronavirus admissions.

‘Because hospitals were full, the A&E departments were full and ambulances were waiting outside,’ acute care chief Ernst Kuipers told MPs on Wednesday.

Last weekend Kuipers called on the government to introduce a new lockdown because hospitals are being forced to cancel regular care to cope with the pandemic.

(DutchNews)

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