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Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs gives Thursday evening ‘Stay At Home’ National Address on COVID-19

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – On Thusday evening the Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) issued a national address via the Governments Facebook Page.

The address is as follows:

The Police force of St. Maarten is coordinating controls together with their French counterparts starting Friday, March 27, 2020 in order to enforce the restricted movement of persons, which has been implemented as a preventative measure on St. Maarten/St. Martin to avoid the further spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Controls have been ongoing by the French Gendarmes to inhibit unnecessary movement on French St. Martin. The restrictions require all persons to be in possession of a document that authorizes them to travel in and around the French side and even to the Dutch side and defines whether it is work related or related to an urgent matter (which shouldn't exceed one hour). This restriction applies to French citizens who work or live on the Dutch side as well as Dutch citizens who work or live on the French side.

Seeing that the spread of the virus has increased drastically on French St. Martin in the past few days, and local transmission is highly likely, Dutch residents are strongly advised not to venture to the French side, unless strictly necessary for work purposes or in case of emergencies. While this may seem restrictive to us as St. Martiners, as many family ties exist between our two sides, this measure is for your own health and safety, and the health and safety of your family and the rest of our community.

For the past few weeks, we have been asking for persons to heighten their awareness of ways to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We have stressed on the practice of proper hygiene, enforced school closures, placed restrictions on non-essential businesses, and minimized business hours all with the intention to minimize movement. While no curfew yet exists prohibiting movement of the population, each and every citizen is asked to STAY at home as much as possible in order to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

The police force has commended our citizens and business community for their compliant behavior thus far throughout this process, and I encourage you to comply with these latest measures as well. Those not following the direct instructions by the Police to return to their homes, will be fined according to article 3 of the General Police Ordinance.

Collective Prevention Services (CPS) and our health care system, while doing their utmost to serve the people of St. Maarten, remain at limited capacity, which will not be able to sustain a major outbreak if persons continue to go about their lives as usual. Persons who have traveled within the past three weeks, should have registered with CPS by now (by calling 914), and should be in self-quarantine (no symptoms, but have a travel history). Persons who have a family member who has traveled in the past three weeks in their home, should also be self-quarantined even if you have no symptoms. Do not go to work or venture out into the community. Persons who have flu like symptoms, and no travel history, are not automatically considered suspected Covid-19 patients, but should also self-isolate at home (stay away from their family as well) and monitor their symptoms, in case they may have been exposed to someone who has traveled.

All of the above persons, should contact CPS or their house doctor for information as to whether they should be tested. CPS nurses are currently monitoring over 450 persons who are either in quarantine or isolation, only those who meet the profile of travel history and flu-like symptoms will be tested right away. Others will continue to be monitored for the event that they may start to show symptoms. Persons who are extremely ill with flu-like symptoms, with extreme shortness of breath, requiring hospitalization, whether they have contacted CPS or not, should call the ambulance, and explain the situation to receive urgent care.

It has been brought to my attention that some people who have traveled and have flu like symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has, are waiting too long to contact CPS. The last few days have seen patients with symptoms and severe shortness of breath along with varying symptoms that may or may not be covid-19 related calling at the last minute.

I once again urge you all to take this virus seriously. Your actions may save your own life or the life of someone you love. There is no shame in reporting possible exposure to the virus. Do not be afraid to call your Doctor or CPS if you are ill and unsure of what your symptoms may mean. Do not be afraid to treat non-COVID-19 symptoms because you are afraid to go to the Doctor or the hospital.

This is a worldwide pandemic and yes, our capacity is small to handle an outbreak. While help has been promised, it has been merely trickling in. Let’s keep our numbers low, by being conscious of our actions and interactions with persons. Do not venture out and about unless strictly necessary. Only Essential workers should be out and for limited time to allow for essential services to be carried out.

Our health care professionals and emergency service providers work 24 hours per day. Give them the time and space to do so, as your excessive movement can be a danger to them. Stay off the roads. Spend quality time with family at home and use technology to interact with those you cannot visit at this time.

Resilience will be shown in our behavior in challenging times. Show our true resilient spirit by taking care of you, your family and loved ones. Practice proper hygiene and social distancing to see us through these very dark days around the world. Prayer and meditation, reading and talking to loved ones can calm our fears and help us to plan and focus on the blessings of life itself.

Stay Safe, be aware of yourself and your surroundings, and follow the instructions of our law enforcement officers at all times. God Bless St. Maarten and all her people!

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Sea Cloud II was in Port for Fuel and Food Provisioning on Thursday

PORT ST. MAARTEN – The cruise vessel Sea Cloud II tall ship of Sea Cloud Cruises, was given permission by the Government of St. Maarten on humanitarian grounds after meeting national port entry requirements to make a port call on Thursday, March 26 for fuel bunkering and food provisioning. The vessel had no passengers onboard.

The vessels crew were not allowed to disembark while the vessel was moored at the cruise pier. Sea Cloud II is at anchor outside Simpson Bay.

The windjammer vessel is 387 feet long and 3,849 gross tons. The maximum number of passengers that the vessel can carry is 94 and approximately 65 crew. The vessel which has 23 sails was built in 2001.

Sea Cloud Cruises has been a premiere address in the world of luxury cruising since 1979. The company operates out of Hamburg, Germany.

Since 1979, Sea Cloud Cruises has been one of the world’s top names in cruises. The 88-year-old four-masted barque Sea Cloud and its younger sister Sea Cloud II regularly appear with five stars each in the Berlitz Cruise Guide’s list of the top five boutique ships. Sea Cloud Cruises is a founding member of the hotel association Feine Privathotels.

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Simpson Bay Bridge Openings Reduced to two per day

PORT ST. MAARTEN – The Simpson Bay Bridge will open twice a day as of Friday, March 27, 2020.

The Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority after reviewing boat traffic and under the current national emergency related to the coronavirus COVID-19, the Lagoon Authority decided to temporarily reduce the opening times to two per day.

The bridge will open at 9.00AM for inbound and outbound traffic, and again at 2.00PM inbound/outbound.

The Causeway Bridge opening will be synchronized based on the Simpson Bay Bridge openings. This will be coordinated with mariners by calling the VHF-12 channel.

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New hospital project also affected by COVID-19 restrictions

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent travelling restrictions imposed worldwide, one of the consequences is a possible extension of the original construction timeline for St. Maarten General Hospital (SMGH). However, St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) and the main contractor are exploring avenues for acceleration of certain aspects of the project in order to avoid or minimize the impact.

In the preceding months, the first construction activities in relation to the SMGH project have taken place which mainly consisted of mobilization activities such as site clean-up, installation of temporary fencing, rerouting of the site drainage system, among other activities.

Due to the travel restrictions currently in effect, key staff of the contractor necessary to activate further construction activities, are not able to travel to St. Maarten. This may result in a delay in the overall construction timeline. However, in the meantime, procurement and design activities have continued as well as site installation activities (including installation of permanent fencing and the site entrance). SMMC and the contractor are investigating all options to further accelerate the project once the airport reopens and construction activities can recommence. 

In line with the precautionary measures taken by SMMC and Government in relation to COVID-19, the SMGH project team and the contractor continue activities to complete the final design, however, by working remotely as much as possible and taking the social distancing guidelines into account when in office.

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Minister Doran: Measures will be strictly enforced to safeguard the community

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Following decisions by the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Sunday, March 22nd, 2020, I have been in close consultation with the Management of the Police Force and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, a press release from the Cabinet of the Minister of Justice stated on Wednesday.

“I hereby wish to announce, that the measures taken by the EOC will be strictly enforced according to the transaction list related to Corona/Covid-19 measures (which was previously published).  The police instructions will include heightened visibility of the police at vital infrastructure, businesses and homes. 

“If you are in the vicinity of these establishments or homes, you can be requested to identify yourself and be removed effective immediately. All persons must be in possession of identification. Non-compliance will lead to fines. 

“Businesses that do not comply with the opening hours of the EOC will be closed, and clients will be instructed to leave immediately. A report will be made for the ministry of TEATT (Ed Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications) and the owner will be fined for non-compliance.

“No more than 20 persons are allowed in larger grocery stores and no more than 10 in smaller grocery stores. A distance of 1, 5 to 2 meters (4-6 feet) is to be maintained when waiting for service. Group gatherings are strictly prohibited. 

“Group gatherings of more than 5 persons on the public road, in the vicinity of businesses (including restaurants, bars, gas stations, BBQ, etc.) and other places, is strictly prohibited and will be immediately dispersed.

“Non-compliance can lead to fines or arrest. It is also advised to avoid social gatherings at home. Beaches will remain open; however, no beach vending/ businesses are allowed to operate. Social gatherings of more than 5 people are strictly prohibited and will be immediately dispersed. Non-compliance can lead to fines or arrest. It is not the intention under given circumstances to use force. However, if and when necessary, the Police will not hesitate to apply the use of force to maintain public order and safety,” the release of the Cabinet of the Minister of Justice says. 

Adjusted Justice Services in regards to Social distancing 

The following departments of the Ministry of Justice will be operating on reduced staff capacity and will be handling only emergencies from the workplace as of Monday March 23rd2020 until April 6th, 2020. 

KPSM, Sint Maarten Police Force:

  • No walk-ins at the police station.
    - For non-emergencies /and questions +1721 542 2222
    - For filing reports: +1721 542 2222. Only emergencies or through appointments made via +1721 542 2222.
  • Please have the following details at hand before calling the station, in order for us to provide efficient and effective service: 

name, date of birth, place of birth, address, phone number, short summary of what took place).

  • Border control following the COVID-19 protocol, will submit all passengers to a questionnaire, and will issue information regarding self-isolation measures.
  • Appointments must be made for Immigration services, including reporting obligations via: +1721 542 2222 ext. 307.
  • The number of call takers are increased in order to provide extra services. When calling, please give your correct telephone number, in the event that the police needs to follow up.
  • Call 911 for emergencies only. Covid-19 protocols are in place for the dispatch center. Please comply with the dispatcher. 
  • Covid-19 protocols are in place for the patrols. 

Please comply with the Covid-19 instructions given by the officers. 

This can include a request to wear a mask and maintain distance for safety.

Customs: 

  • 100% controls on goods from risk countries
  • 100% controls on air passengers
  • 100% controls on baggage

Court of Guardianship: 

  • No walk-ins, only open for emergencies or through appointments made via +1721 542 4110 or +1721 542 4115 
  • In case of emergencies, call +1721 520 6396

Probation Office and Family Guardianship office (SJIB):

  • No walk-ins, only open for emergencies or through appointments made online or by telephone via +1721 526 4334

Public Prosecutor’s Office:

  • No walk-ins
  • Open every day from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., with exception of Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Contact: telephone via +1721 5422243 or +1721 5430109 or online via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Immigration:

  • The Immigration office will be closed to the Public until further notice.
  • Contact: telephone via +1721 542 6007

Prison:

  • No visitation allowed
  • Video calling has been set up for family members and lawyers.
  • Contact: telephone +1(721) 542-0691 or 542-3249 for more details and appointments

Health for Justice personnel: 

Physically: The approach of all justice workers will entail physical distancing at least 1,5 to 2 meters (6 feet) to ensure the safety of all. 

Mentally: For our justice first responders, there is no choice but to deal with all different emotions caused by this crisis. 

This focus on the service towards the society can cause constant stress.  We are therefore at this moment finalizing a contract with psychologists.

Guidelines for Operators and Users of Public Transportation

MAXIMUM NUMBER OF PASSENGERS ALLOWED PER VEHICLE:

General rule: No more than 2 passengers should sit in the same row while observing social distance minimums of 2 meters (6 feet). 

Based on the types of vehicles currently providing public transportation related services, this has been further defined per category as follows: 

  • Vans (with max. capacity of 7 seats) are prohibited from transporting more than 4 passengers at one time. 
  • Minibuses (with max. capacity of 16 seats) are prohibited from transporting more than 8 passengers at one time. 
  • Coaster busses (with max. capacity of 29 seats) are prohibited from transporting more than 16 passengers at one time. 
  • Charter buses (with max. capacity of 60 seats) are prohibited from transporting more than 30 passengers at one time. 

SAFETY GUIDELINES FOR DRIVERS:

  • Drivers are encouraged to perform regular hand hygiene, including using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Drivers should avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands and should avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • High touch surfaces, including seats, door handles and handrails should be cleaned and disinfected frequently during the day. 
  • When cleaning/disinfecting staff should wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as gloves and eye/ face protection; After removing PPE, staff should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 

SAFETY GUIDELINES FOR PASSENGERS:

  • Maintain at least 2 meters (6 feet) distance between yourself and the next passenger;
  • Regularly and thoroughly sanitize your hands with a sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover nose/mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Use disposable tissues and discard after use.
  • Sanitize hands after coughing or sneezing.

Minister Doran said that while Sint Maarten is going through trying times, there are those who are using this opportunity to take advantage of the situation in regards to crime as we have seen various serious senseless criminal acts taking place over the past few days.

The Minister encouraged the population to remain calm despite the circumstances, as the Government is working diligently towards securing the wellbeing of the people, by finding solutions to problems that may arise due to the situation at hand.

Minister ended by asking God to bless the people of Sint Maarten.

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Inspectorate TEATT suspends some of its services to the public

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Inspectorate of the Ministry of Tourism and Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) has suspended driving exams.

In consultation with the Department of Civil Registry the Inspectorate of the Ministry of TEATT announces the suspension of theoretical and practical driving exams.

The length of the suspension will be reviewed on or before April 3, 2020 to determine if it can be lifted or will be continued. Existing appointments with the Inspectorate for exams will be rescheduled based on appointment date and test candidates will be contacted by the Inspectorate with a new proposed date.

For those candidates who have already sat a theoretical or practical exam, the validity period of your test card will automatically be adjusted. For questions, please call the department at +1-721-542-4511/5642 during office hours. No Walk-Ins will be accepted during this suspension period.

The Inspectorate TEATT also makes it known that it will not accept in-person applications for Import/Export/Transmit permits for small animals.

Section LVV which handles the requests for permits for movement of small animals into/from and through St. Maarten will also not be accepting walk-ins until further notice. Please contact the department via its email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or for emergencies call the department at +1-721-542-4511/5642

Regarding the issuance of confirmation letters for public transportation permit holders, this has also been suspended for the time being. Public transportation permit holders should proceed directly to the Receivers Office to pay for their 2020 license plate during this period until the service resumes.

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Police Warning: Motorists No need for speed. Motorcycles/Scooter riders wear your helmets

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Following the international pandemic of the COVID-19 virus, the Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) has observed an increase in the improper use of the roadways and through this press release would like to warn the general public moving forward Zero Tolerance will be set into motion for persons in violation.

Drivers are taking advantage of the fact that the roads are a bit clearer due to the precautions set in place, by Prime Minister S. Jacobs, to close all nonessential businesses in an effort to alleviate the spread of the COVID -19 virus.

Road users are using this as an opportunity to unnecessarily speed and motorcycle users are operating without helmet protection.

All persons who are in violation of the road rules and regulations will be reprimanded to the fullest extent of the law. When you are not adhering to the regulations set in place you are obstructing the free flow of traffic. It is not only careless on your part, as you are putting your life in danger, but you are also now endangering the lives of other road users.

The Sint Maarten Police Force will not condone this dangerous and illegal behavior by users of the public roads and warns those who are not following the road regulations to cease and desist. It is our duty as officers of the law to enforce the traffic rules and we will not shy away from doing so.

We have increased police patrolling in several districts and persons caught in violation of the road rules will be fined or may even be subject to arrest.

Reduce your speed; wear your seat belt when operating a motor vehicle; wear a helmet when operating a motorcycle, be considerate of other road users. If it is not necessary to be on the road, we are pleading with the public to stay indoors for your own safety and the safety of others. This can help prevent unnecessary mishaps; the life you save can very well be your own. (KPSM)

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Approach towards drug crime and drug related problems needs improvement

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - A comprehensive, multi-disciplinary policy is lacking in Sint Maarten to tackle drugs related crime and drug related problems. The combating of local drug crime needs an impulse. Drug use, social-economic and psycho-social problems are mutually sustained. And, the Sint Maarten government is not doing enough where it comes to prevention policy.

These are some of the conclusions from the inspection report that the Law Enforcement Council (hereafter: The Council) published today, March 24. In 2019 the Council conducted research on the approach to drug crime (drug law offences) and drug related problems (crime, nuisance and/or problems as a result of or related to drug crime).

The Council looked at national, interregional and international laws and regulations, policy, the nature and extent of the drug problem and the approach in practice. In the inspection report, the Council makes nine recommendations to the Sint Maarten Minister of Justice to improve the approach to drug crime and drug related problems.

These recommendations relate to, among other things, legislation, inter-ministerial policy and political-administrative decision-making to facilitate and improve operational cooperation, prevention and awareness.

The Council concludes that there is no lack of international and interregional legislation and regulations. However, the national opium law needs to be actualized and a comprehensive, multidisciplinary policy is lacking in Sint Maarten. Because of the focus on combating international drug trafficking at the border, combating local drug crime and related problems do not receive sufficient attention.

Impulse

The Council welcomes the reinforcement of border control and judicial cooperation to combat international drug trafficking, but here too there is still room for improvement. The local approach of combating drug crime needs a new impulse. There is an urgent need for investments in preventative measures and the quality and accessibility of high-quality (drug) addiction care. Given the seriousness and impact of drug crime and related problems on both the individual as the community level, the Council is of the opinion that the approach should receive high priority.

According to the Council, the approach can be strengthened by investing in the joint coordinating and defining of priorities, policies and work-methods of the organizations involved. The approach is now partly dependent on individual judgement and that makes it vulnerable.

Efficiency and correct upscaling are essential for criminal investigations, to enable quick action where necessary. In its research the Council also notes various vulnerabilities in the logistics infrastructure (including security at the airport and harbor). An effective drug approach requires smart investments (for example in extra camera surveillance), inter-ministerial and public-private cooperation and decisive action by the government.

Unacceptable

Based on the research results, the Council notes a downward spiral in which drug abuse, socio-economic and psychosocial issues keep sustaining each other. The Council finds it unacceptable that prevention policy from the Sint Maarten government is currently lacking. Knowledge and awareness are essential to reduce the drug demand.

Also, addiction care must be of high quality and accessible to everyone. The Council notes that this is currently not the case. The healthcare and justice domain must be better coordinated through inter-ministerial policy. However, none of the ministries involved (Justice; Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA; Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs OCJS) are taking the lead in this.

Finally, the Council sees possibilities for improvement through broader interregional and international cooperation. The research shows that information is shared in an ad hoc manner between the countries within the Kingdom and internationally. In its research, the Council saw examples of successful cooperation in individual investigations, but it believes that opportunities are being missed because information is not structurally exchanged and disclosed between the countries.

Drug crime is known for being a cross-border problem. Therefore, the Council recommends that the countries improve their interregional and international information position and strengthen cooperation to that end. In addition, the Council notes that interregional and international cooperation is currently mainly repressive (judicial). The Council is of the opinion that the structural sharing of professional knowledge, best practices and results of investigations and research in the field of drug crime and related problems requires improvement.

The inspection report and other reports of the Council can be found on: www.raadrechtshandhaving.com

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CREDIT CARD CLIENTS TO GET EASE TOO AT CIBC FIRSTCARIBBEAN

SINT MAARTEN/BARBADOS - CIBC FirstCaribbean credit card holders are being offered a payment ease to help cushion any financial hardship as a result of the COVID -19 pandemic. 

The bank announced today that its credit card holders would automatically benefit from a payment waiver for three (3) months based on their current account standing. As a result, clients will see their minimum payment on their statements set to $0.00. 

“Our credit card holders are a key segment of our business with many of them having additional products and services with us. We felt it essential at this time that we offer them as much of a financial cushion as possible to see them through this crisis,” said Mark St. Hill, Managing Director, Retail & Business Banking. 

Mr. St. Hill said that in addition to the payment waiver, card holders will also not have to pay late fees or over the limit fees during the three-month waiver period.  

He noted that clients who could afford to make payments and wanted to continue doing so could make their monthly payments as usual. The offer is not available to clients whose cards are over 60 days in arrears at the commencement date. 

The special waiver period begins on March 25, 2020 and comes to an end on June 30, 2020. 

Last week the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Colette Delaney, announced that Retail, Business Banking, Wealth Management and Corporate Banking segments could benefit from a number of measures to mitigate the impact of any adverse effects from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  

She said the help could include deferred payments; special loan financing and other concessions including: 

  • 6-month payment moratoriums on existing loans and mortgages.
  • Temporary revolving or working capital financing options for our Corporate Banking and Business Banking clients. 

Ms. Delaney urged CIBC FirstCaribbean clients who may be experiencing challenges to reach out to the bank to see what assistance could be offered to them. 

Clients experiencing financial challenges can contact: 

Retail & Business Banking clients: –

  • Contact the Customer Care & Sales Center or Branch directly
  • Relationship Manager, Platinum Banking
  • Business Banking Manager

Corporate & Investment Banking Clients: - 

  • Contact your Relationship Management Team directly by telephone or by email.  

Wealth Management Clients: -

  • Contact your Relationship Management Team to arrange the earliest opportunity to discuss their specific needs, either by telephone or by email.  

The bank’s clients can also make contact via email. There is a list of email addresses on the bank’s website at https://www.cibcfcib.com/covid-19. We also recommend clients to visit us online, at www.cibcfcib.com/locations to find additional contact information for CIBC FirstCaribbean offices in each territory.

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Man stabbed in the back in Maho Area after altercation

SINT MAARTEN (MAHO) - The police dispatch received several calls early Monday morning March 23rd about 12.45 am concerning a stabbing that took place in front of a supermarket in Maho.

The patrol and ambulance who arrived on the scene encountered a man who had received a stab wound to his back. According to the information gathered at the scene, an argument ensued between two men, that ended up in an altercation.

During the altercation the unknown suspect stabbed the victim in the back with a sharp object.

After committing this act, the suspect fled the scene in the direction of Cupecoy. The police patrol searched the area for the suspect but without the desired result.

The victim, who was bleeding profusely, was treated on the scene and transferred to the Sint Maarten Medical Center. He didn’t suffer no life-threatening injuries. The investigation into this stabbing is ongoing. (KPSM)

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