SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - As of August 1st, 2022, the intention is to make the Electronic Health Authorization System (EHAS) more convenient by allowing vaccinated persons to receive an immediate preapproval once the form is filled out in its entirety.
The entry requirements will not change for the country, but by allowing an automated immediate response, many cancellations can be avoided. It is important to note that the checks on arrival will still take place at the airport, and persons may be required to test locally if their documents are not valid.
Despite claims that EHAS is deterring tourists from visiting the country, statistics show that this is far from the truth. In the high season of 2021-2022, Sint Maarten was at approximately 120% of its 2019 pre-COVID arrival numbers and to date we are at 90% of the 2019 arrivals.
We often look at other countries without realizing the full measures being taken there. For instance, while Aruba may not require any testing to enter the country, they do require that an ED form be filled out prior to traveling and they still have a night life closure time of 1 AM during the week.
Even though America has finally eased their entry requirements, noncitizens are required to be vaccinated to enter their country. This shows that everyone is trying to find a balance that would also protect their population, while still attracting visitors.
Sint Maarten is no exception, the intention is for EHAS to transition into our Port Health Authority, which is mandatory for all the countries within the kingdom. An international health regulation (IHR) meeting was held last month in Aruba and is scheduled to be a yearly event. The IHR requires each country to be able to detect, assess, report, respond and stop outbreaks of infectious diseases before they spread internationally. This means that Sint Maarten must have a Port Health Authority at all points of entry, to meet our obligations as international ports.
"I am not someone that likes to remove regulations and then have to replace them later,” said Ottley. The Minister is working on transitioning the EHAS to a more effective system that fosters safety without negatively affecting our visiting numbers. The plan is to allow this automated approval to be accessible for all visitors regardless of their vaccination status by October 15th, 2022.