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Mandatory wearing of face masks as of September 18 in busy areas on Saint-Martin

SAINT-MARTIN (MARIGOT) - The health situation on the island of Saint-Martin remains worrying, the Prefecture said in a statement on Thursday with 117 active cases and 21 people hospitalized, 18 of them at the Louis Constant Fleming Hospital, as of 14 September.

The statement further says that levels of incidence (number of people positive per 100,000 inhabitants per week) and the positives (number of people positive compared to the number of tests performed) remain above alert thresholds.

Faced with this data, the Prefecture of Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin decided to introduce by decree the wearing of the mandatory mask from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. in areas frequented by the general public, especially beverage outlets, the vicinity of schools and shops, for a period of one month from Friday, September 18.

Violators face a fine of 135 euros. During the confinement, the Prefecture, Initiative Saint-Martin Active and the Collectivite carried the project of making masks by using 52 seamstresses. 24,500 masks have already been distributed to the general public and to all schools, administrations, businesses, and associations.

Stocks remain available. In order to guarantee the protection of all, reusable masks can be collected by those at the reception of the Prefecture from 18 September during office opening hours.

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Compensation for slow asylum procedures to top €65m, scheme has now been scrapped

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch immigration service IND has set aside €65.4m to compensate asylum seekers whose cases take too long to process this year, website Nu.nl reported on Thursday.

The figure, first reported on by the Telegraaf, is included in the justice ministry’s budget. The IND has six months to assess an asylum case, and if it fails to do so, it faces a ‘fine’ of up to €15,000 per person.

Last year the IND handed out €6.6m to refugees whose applications for asylum took too long to deal with. The payouts have mounted steadily over the years and in April, junior justice minister Ankie Broekers-Knol pledged to scrap them.

In April, the government set up a special task force and charged it with clearing the backlog of 15,300 cases, but so far just 4,000 of them have been processed.

The task force focuses on people who arrived in the Netherlands before April 1 while new arrivals fall under the regular procedures, and this is likely to mean their cases will be examined earlier.

Refugees have been staging demonstrations at asylum seekers centres in protest at the delays they face. They say it is unfair that the cases of people who have just arrived in the Netherlands are being processed more quickly.

(DutchNews)

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17 arrested following raids in the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium in drugs probe

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Ten people have been arrested in the Netherlands, seven others in Spain and Belgium, in connection with a major investigation into drugs, Dutch police said on Wednesday.

The arrests were made following raids on dozens of properties in the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Hungary and Slovakia involving almost 1,000 police officers. They seized cars, guns and cash money as well as quantities of drugs, police said in a statement.

Most of those arrested are suspected of involvement in money laundering and trading illegal drugs, but several also face charges relating to firearms. The Netherlands will request the extradition of the suspects picked up in Spain and Belgium, the police statement said.

According to the Telegraaf, one of the people arrested in the Netherlands is Piet S, known as the Dikke or fat one, a prominent figure in The Hague’s crime circuit.

The investigation was launched on the basis of information gleaned from Encrochat, an encrypted messaging service used by criminals which was recently hacked into by Dutch police.

So far, Encrochat investigations have led to the arrest of more than 100 suspects in the Netherlands and the seizure of eight tonnes of cocaine and 1.2 tonnes of crystal meth.

(DutchNews)

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KvK warns struggling business owners not to dig deeper into debt

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The chamber of commerce (KvK) has urged business owners not to sink into crippling levels of debt if their companies become unviable.

Despite the slump in spending during the coronavirus lockdown, the insolvency rate dropped to its lowest level in 21 years in August. The KvK is concerned that the number will rise now that the government’s emergency fund to keep companies afloat has ended.

Nearly €8 billion was distributed to 140,000 companies in the first round of the NOW scheme from March to May. ‘It’s very difficult to let go of your dream,’ Marije Hovestad, head of the KvK’s team of business advisers, told NOS.

‘But this complicated situation requires people to take a critical look at their business.’ Around 1.5 million people in the Netherlands run their businesses as a partnership – either a VOF, CV or maatschap – which leaves them personally liable for any debts run up by the company.

Hovestad said the KvK was keen to break the taboo on terminating businesses that are not viable. ‘We are seeing people starting up business now, companies that are recovering from the last few months and companies that won’t make it,’ she said.

‘We are getting calls from partners of entrepreneurs who are very worried. We want to let business owners know that stopping is an option.’

(DutchNews)

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Victim drives himself to the hospital with a gunshot wound to his face. One arrest made

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The KPSM detectives were able to quickly apprehend and arrest a suspect, yesterday Sunday 13th, for his involvement in a shooting that took place on September 11th. The shooting, which took place on the L.B. Scott Road, left the victim to drive himself to the hospital after sustaining a gunshot wound to the face.

Members of the Detective and Forensics Department were summoned to the Medical Center after receiving information from the hospital security that at approximately 7:15 pm, on the night of the shooting, victim S.S. showed up seeking urgent medical care from a gunshot wound.

The victim’s vehicle which was still parked outside was quickly cordoned off and searched for evidence into what had transpired before the shooting by the Forensic Team.

Once out of surgery the victim, who was in serious but stable condition was able to provide his statement which subsequently lead to an arrest warrant for the perpetrator involved.

Suspect J.H. was arrested at his home on Sunday morning, despite a bit of resistance from him and arguments from his family members who were on the scene. This investigation is currently ongoing, more details into what took place will be provided as they become available. (KPSM)

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Plenary session of Parliament with the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten concerning the banks extending moratoriums to consumers and the General Audit Chamber

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The House of Parliament will sit in a Plenary Public Session Monday, September 14, 2020. The Public meeting is scheduled for 10.00 hrs. and will be held in a virtual setting. The Minister of Finance and representatives of the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten will be present. 

The agenda points are: 

  1. Discussion with the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten concerning the banks extending further moratoriums to their consumers and other measures to ease the hardship faced in the community as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  2. Advice on appointment member General Audit Chamber (IS/1150/2019-2020 dated August 4, 2020)

Due to measures taken to mitigate the coronavirus (COVID-19), the House of Parliament is only allowing persons with an appointment to enter the Parliament building. 

The parliamentary session will be held virtually and will be carried out live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 115, via SXM GOV radio FM 107.9, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1 www.pearlfmradio.sx, via the internet www.sxmparliament.org, and Parliament’s Facebook page: Parliament of Sint Maarten

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DOMINICA HERE WE COME

DOMINICA/TRINIDAD - Subject to regulatory approval by the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority, Caribbean Airlines will launch service between Barbados and Dominica from September 19, 2020.

The addition of Dominica to the network is part of the airline’s current strategic plan to expand into the Eastern Caribbean. The increase in commercial flights will auger well for trade and economic activity in the region.

The flight schedule is timed to facilitate easy connections to/from regional and international destinations including London, UK. CEO of Caribbean Airlines, Garvin Medera stated: “Our Eastern Caribbean expansion continues with the addition of Dominica to our network. We have set up a temporary base in Barbados, providing much needed airlift to Dominica, St. Vincent, Grenada and St. Lucia, with more destinations to be added in the coming weeks.

The flight schedule is also designed to offer seamless connections to international destinations including London, via our expanded interline agreement with Virgin Atlantic.”

CARIBBEAN AIRLINES FLIGHT SCHEDULE FROM BARBADOS TO DOMINICA Flight Frequency Origin Destination Depart Arrive BW202 SATURDAY BGI DOM 4.30 p.m. 5.30 p.m. BW203 SATURDAY DOM BGI 6.25 p.m. 7. 25 p.m. BW202 SUNDAY BGI DOM 10.00 a.m. 11.00 a.m. BW203 SUNDAY DOM BGI 11.55 a.m. 12.55 p.m.

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CARIBBEAN AIRLINES SPECIALLY APPROVED FLIGHT FROM TRINIDAD TO BARBADOS ON SEPTEMBER 13

BARBADOS-TRINIDAD - Caribbean Airlines is working with the Ministry of National Security to put on a special flight from Piarco International Airport, Trinidad to Grantley Adams International Airport, Barbados on September 13, 2020 where passengers can also make onward connections to other destinations.

Persons interested in traveling on this specially approved flight to Barbados had to contact Caribbean Airlines Sales and Service Centre for booking. Customers are advised to pay attention to the COVID-19 protocols for entry into Barbados via https://gisbarbados.gov.bb/covid-19-protocols/

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The political fringes fire at Rutte, but EU recovery fund support is assured

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Prime minister Mark Rutte was criticised by far right and Socialist MPs during Wednesday evening’s debate on the EU €750bn recovery fund, but he was still assured of sufficient support for the Dutch position in the negotiations.

In particular, the anti-immigration PVV and FvD said that Rutte had wrongly voted to give billions of euros to ‘poor’ member states. Roelof Bisschop, an MP for the fundamentalist Protestant SGP, said the EU fund had saddled future generations with a ‘mountain of debt’.

‘And it is going to take until 2058 to pay back this money. 2058!’, the MP said. By contrast, D66 MP Sjoerd Sjoerdsma said the prime minister could have shown a more pro-European face during the negotiations. GroenLinks and the Labour party too criticised the prime minister’s tough stance during the weeks of talks earlier in the summer.

The Netherlands had been one of the most vocal critics of the EU fund plan, particularly the idea of giving no-strings relief to countries hardest hit by coronavirus.

During Wednesday’s long debate, Rutte admitted that he had been forced to compromise on his hard line over gifts, but said the Dutch position is a sensible one because the Netherlands would suffer major economic fall-out if Spain and Italy got into real difficulty.

‘It is in the interests of the Netherlands to have a stable EU, given the power blocks of China and the United States,’ he said. ‘The most important thing for you and for me is to keep this country safe, in an uncertain world. And we cannot do this alone.’

(DutchNews)

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Central Committee meeting of Parliament regarding the advice on appointment of members of the General Audit Chamber

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The House of Parliament will sit in a Central Committee meeting on, September 10, 2020. The Central Committee meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 14.00 hrs. and will be held in a virtual setting.

The agenda point is:

Advice on appointment members General Audit Chamber (IS/1150/2019-2020 dated August 4, 2020)

Due to measures taken to mitigate the coronavirus (COVID-19), the House of Parliament is only allowing persons with an appointment to enter the Parliament building.

The parliamentary session will be held virtually and will be carried out live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 115, via SXM GOV radio FM 107.9, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1 www.pearlfmradio.sx, via the internet www.sxmparliament.org, and Parliament’s Facebook page: Parliament of Sint Maarten

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