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PPA LEADER ARRINDELL: STIMULUS PACKAGE MUST S-T-I-M-U-L-A-T-E

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Leader of the People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) Gracita Arrindell in a press statement on Friday evening said: “March month COVID-19 madness is almost behind us. Ahead however, awaits many uncertainties as we continue to work in an effort to mitigate the negative effects on our economy and on our way of life, since this apparent ‘man made’ virus hit the world.

“It is only a matter of time before we will know the exact and undisputable facts that led to this pandemic costing both innocent lives and economies to crumble or paralyzed in worse cases”

Arrindell states: “Pay- rolls are due for most companies, excluding the public sector which includes government owned companies. A stimulus package is being worked on locally, according to news reports. This proposed package is aimed at the unemployed, those who lost or at risk of loosing their jobs. The objective is to alleviate the expected strain on our economy due to the Government mandated closures.

“A closer look within the Kingdom of the Netherlands tells us what steps Governments have taken for their respective constituents.

  1. An emergency relief package has already been debated and AGREED UPON in the Netherlands for Holland, Bonaire, Saba, Statia. Note Holland as well as other countries outside of the Kingdom choose the SZV system to administer the relief on companies pay-rolls.
  2. Curacao approved a ‘solidarity’ package for its citizens.

“Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister for Kingdom Relations Knops, recently publicly disclosed that the larger islands Curacao, Aruba and Sint Maarten will not be left out and be considered to receive a financial relief package. It is of essence that our Governments, Council of Ministers and Parliament approach Aruba and Curacao in order to submit post haste a joint or unified request for support unrelated to the Trust- fund relief Sint Maarten received post Hurricane Irma. The joint Stimulus package would be similar to what the BESS islands are about to receive from the Netherlands.”

“Gracita said: our local government presented a proposal which includes food vouchers. The proposals are yet to be debated and approved by Parliament. In the midst of this all, current interim Ministers are leaving office as NEWLY appointed members enter the public arena. We wish them much wisdom and fortitude to act expeditiously on the stimulus package for businesses. These are not easy times and all hands are needed on deck to overcome the challenges we face together.”

“Constructive criticism is healthy for everyone involved. It is important to note that the approach of our Government (Minister of Finance) should be intense on its relief purposes towards energizing (businesses) to be pro-active. Keeping most people EMPLOYED should be a collective (public and private sector) main objective. Those who are or have been un-employed prior to the COVID- 19 virus pandemic, would rightfully be eligible for the voucher program. Food vouchers do not fall under the category of STIMULUS. Food vouchers are part of our safety net, especially geared towards sustaining the most vulnerable among us, including, elderly, pensioners, homeless.

“Employers should not be (un-intentionally) motivated by Government to lay off staff. Hopefully, our Government will apply the meaning of the word ‘Stimulus’ literally when it decides on the final financial package of measures to be taken. This decision is not a minute too soon.

Gracita concludes: Sint Maarten is a small beautiful Island.We can manage our issues when they arrive. When we plan ahead and consult in a timely fashion our stakeholders, we can overcome our challenges. Once again, our social security structure (SZV) is in place to handle the disbursement of the financial Stimulus package on short notice. Time is of the essence.”

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Burglar arrested Friday afternoon

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Thursday March 26th, 2020 about 02.00pm, the police patrol arrested the burglar F.L. on the Back street in Philipsburg, police said on Friday in their crime report.

The suspect was taken into custody after burglarizing a home on the 14th of March 2020. After being detained he was brought over to the police station in Philipsburg where he is being held for questioning. (KPSM)

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No magic answer: Efteling theme park appeals for help to pay salaries

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Efteling amusement park has applied for government help to pay the salaries of its 3,300 staff, the company confirmed to NPO radio news on Thursday.

The park has been closed for almost two weeks under government measures to halt the spread of coronavirus and fears that the closure will be extended beyond the initial April 6 deadline.

The Efteling generates some €500,000 in turnover on an average day and ‘we can’t just magic that from nowhere,’ spokeswoman Laura van de Bos said. The Efteling has appealed to the government’s emergency fund to help pay salaries of workers now stuck at home as well as those of seasonal staff – based on their average earnings last year.

The closure of the Noord-Brabant amusement park has also had a major impact on its regional suppliers, said to number around 1,000, who have also lost work, NPO radio said.

(DutchNews)

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Sheep not gardeners keep weeds in check at Soestdijk palace

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A herd of sheep is going to help keep the grass in check in the grounds of the royal palace of Soestdijk, public broadcaster NOS reports.

Shepherds Werner and Ester Floor, who keep their sheep in the nearby national park Utrechtse Heuvelrug, have been contracted to curb out-of-control weeds and grass several times a year.

The fact that the herd is local and travels on the hoof means the maintenance can be classified as ‘sustainable,’ a palace spokesman said. ‘We want to create more natural value in the land around the palace and the sheep will be a good influence.

It also fits in with our ambition to make the Soestdijk the first energy neutral palace and estate.’ Soestdijk dates from the 17th century but only got its present shape in the early 19th century, when two wings were added, modelled on the palace of the czar in Pavlovsk near St Peterburg.

It ceased to be a royal residence following the death of its final inhabitant prince Bernhard, the spouse of the former queen Juliana. The palace, which is now owned by developers Neyer Bergman Erfgoed groep, is currently closed for renovation.

The plans have been thrown doubt however because they include a housing project on the estate. This would involve destroying part of the woods which date back to the 17th century when Willem III was stadtholder and ‘represent great historical and cultural value,’ province officials said.

(DutchNews)

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Fire Dept. administrative offices closed until further notice

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Disaster Coordinator and Fire Commander Clive Richardson, said on Thursday that the administrative offices of the Fire Department at the Fire & Ambulance Department in Cay Hill are closed to the general public until further notice.

The decision was taken in order to help minimize COVID-19 infection of frontline personnel, fire fighters and their families.

The department needs every member of its staff in order to be able to provide the necessary services during this national emergency.

For those who have any questions you can call 543-1318/543-1316/542-1215/542-1217.

The first responder emergency #919 remains operational for emergency calls.

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POSTPONED: Virtual Continuation Plenary public session of Parliament about National ordinance establishing a new Code of Criminal Procedure

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The House of Parliament was scheduled to sit in a Virtual plenary public meeting on March 27, 2020, however this has been postponed until further notice.

This Public meeting was to be a continuation of the meeting which was adjourned on March 20, 2020. The Minister of Justice was to be in attendance.

The agenda point was:

  1. Ontwerp van Landsverordening houdende vaststelling van een nieuw Wetboek van Strafvordering (Wetboek van Strafvordering) (IS/1189/2018-2019 d.d. 19 juni 2019) (Zittingsjaar 2018-2019-129)

(National ordinance establishing a new Code of Criminal Procedure (Code of Criminal Procedure) (Parliamentary Year

2018-2019-129))

Due to measures taken to mitigate the coronavirus (COVID-19), the House of Parliament is currently closed to the general public until further notice.

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PJIAE secures 5,000 Protective N-95 masks for medical professionals at the frontline of St. Maarten’s fight against COVID-19 infections

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) – Airport officials at PJIAE have secured 5,000 (N-95) masks for medical and staff after overcoming impossible odds to get them to St. Maarten.

While doctors and nurses globally, continue to complain about the chronic shortage of protective masks, similar shortages at health care facilities on the island will soon be wiped out – thanks to PJIAE where Airport officials personally met a KLM flight from the Netherlands on Tuesday, with a shipment of masks on board.

According to PJIAE CEO, Mr. Brian Mingo, N-95 protective masks have been obtained with the help of counterpart officials at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands.

The specialized protective masks were ordered by the Airport authority for its own use more than six weeks ago when the airport began to make its own contingency plans in the event of a worsening scenario regarding the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Somehow our order of protective masks was delayed because of the worldwide shortage, but when we explained the dire situation that our own medical teams on St. Maarten were finding themselves with a shortage of masks, Schiphol did the generous thing and filled part of our order from their own needed supplies,” said Mr. Mingo.

The Airport chief said he was “most grateful” to Schiphol, not only as a corporate partner to the Airport, but also as a supportive company, assisting another company where it can. He appealed to other companies on St. Maarten to follow this example of assisting each other to help contain the spread of the virus on the island.

“It is in the best interest of all of us to work together as one by following the instructions of the Prime Minister and government and most of all by following the health practices and especially by practicing social distancing, washing of hands and keeping hands away from our faces,” said Mr. Mingo.

He said in the case of the respirator masks for the Health Sector, he believes the medical teams there who are currently in the frontline of treating sick patients and keeping the virus at bay in the isolation units are deserving of any help they can get.

“It is possible for some persons to work from home or remain at home and not be exposed, but there are also those persons who, due to the nature of their work, have to be out every day and are facing the risk of infection every day and are also putting their loved-ones and families at risk as a result. Anything we can do to help minimize the risk for them, is not just good corporate citizenship, but just good sense,” continued the Airport CEO Mr. Mingo.

Mr. Mingo said while he was able to make good use of his contacts at Schiphol Airport to secure the shipment of face masks for St. Maarten’s medical personnel, it was also the persistent work of PJIAE’s Safety and Security Officer, Mr. Connally Connor and Executive Consultant, Mr. Emile van der Weerd, who did not give up on their attempts to locate the specially designed masks when they were told time and again that none were presently available.

“Mr. Connor is also head of the COVID-19 Task Force at PJIAE which we put together in mid- February in anticipation of these developments,” said Mr. Mingo. He said with the assistance of Mr. Connor and his team, various protocols have been put into place at PJIAE to protect personnel, visitors, members of the public.

“We recently walked the Prime Minister and other government officials through these protocols that we have put in place and she was satisfied that we are taking all the necessary precautionary steps we can to help contain the spread of the virus, at least from this port of entry,” continued Mr. Mingo. Among the steps taken at PJIAE:

  • Managing the spread and risk of COVID-19 to all passengers and visitors to and from PJIAE including the installation of an isolation unit and 12 new hand wash stations.
  • Mitigating and managing the impact on the economy of St. Maarten together with the Prime Minister, the EOC and international COVID-19 agencies.

PJIAE Executive Consultant, Mr. Emile van de Weerd said the presentation of protective masks to the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is really a call to action for other companies on the island to play their part and continue to play their part in a combined effort to contain the COVID-19 for obvious economic and social reasons. He especially appealed to hotel owners and the hospitality sector to follow the example of major hotel chains around the world who have also taken amazing steps to assist their respective communities to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“We are already seeing how hospitals and other medical facilities worldwide can quickly become swamped through lack of resources to accommodate large incidents of infections in the community, therefore we have to be especially careful to follow government guidelines and protocols together in a concerted way,” said Mr. Emile van de Weerd.

The Airport advisor said the efforts made by Mr. Brian Mingo to secure delivery of the N-95 respirator masks should also not be under stated. “The CEO was dogged in his determination and motivated us to find a way when it appeared that no way could be found to have them deliver to St. Maarten this week,” said Mr. Emile van der Weerd.

Mr. Brian Mingo said of the PJIAE gesture, “In the end we are all in this together. If we can all do our part to keep the spread to a minimum, we can quicker recover and rebuild our airport, our economy and our St. Maarten,” he said.

The Airport chief concluded that the protective masks will be delivered directly to the Ministry of Health (VSA) so that distribution can be centralized in a coordinated and safe way.

sxm airport arrival of flights with masks

Offloading of shipment of N-95 respiratory masks from KLM flight to St. Maarten.

 

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WIB ATM LOCATIONS WILL REMAIN OPEN

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Windward Islands Bank (WIB) announced on Wednesday a listing of their ATM machines that will remain open and the timeframes where some will be operational. Take note by reading the attachment. WIB Your Partner during challenging times.

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SFPO Encourages Communities to Stay Connected During Social Distancing

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Foundation for Psychologists and Orthopedagogen (SFPO) wants to encourage community members to stay connected during social distancing. Social distancing has been described as keeping physical space between/amongst persons to help reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus in order to protect our vulnerable community members whereby one way is to stay at home.

Staying at home can feel lonely and lend to stress and anxiety, especially if persons are not working from home or able to keep their minds busy and productive.

Online platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Zoom are currently being used by schools, businesses and other organizations to stay connected to students, employees and others. SFPO also encourages the utilization of local radio stations as a practical way to stay connected as well.

"After the passage of Hurricane Irma, local radio stations served as a beacon of hope, inspiration and encouragement for the community at large. Radio hosts created spaces in which persons from all walks of life could call in to the program to share views or send greetings to loved ones. During this time of social distancing and lock downs, this same platform can be used", a SFPO representative said.

"Utilizing local radio stations is not only practical but also inclusive because most persons within the community, regardless of their socio- economic status, have access to portable radios", SFPO said.

Family members within the same household are encouraged to strengthen family connections by engaging in various activities such as storytelling, playing board games or other games. Families with backyards could also embark on backyard gardening, as a means of teaching children the importance of growing one's own food.

SFPO says, "Using various modalities to show our presence within our homes, churches and communities, in spite of the challenges we currently face, foster a culture of well- being and connectedness".

We encourage people to find creative and safe ways to stayed connected with their loved ones. Connections are what helps us to build confidence and resilience and gives us hope for the future that together we will get through this and move forward."

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