Government Imposes up to Four months Detention or 5,000 ANG fines for 11 PM closure violators | SOUALIGA NEWSDAY

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA), Omar Ottley is reminding the General Public of the COVID-19 measures that are still obligatory.

In just a week, the active COVID numbers surged to 300 plus persons; 18 patients are currently hospitalized at SMMC, and 290 persons are in home isolation. To date, 39 persons have succumbed to the disease.

In an effort to address the situation, Minister Ottley is requesting that all businesses start to implement the safety protocols previously set.

The COVID-19 measures have not changed, stores are still expected to provide hand sanitizing stations at the entrance, ensure that all employees and patrons wear masks. Clients should always maintain social distancing and the business must ensure that all high touch surfaces are cleaned regularly.

Similarly, the General Public should continue wearing face masks, maintain a social distance of 2 meters / 6 feet whenever in close proximity to others and sanitize or wash their hands frequently.

“We would prefer NOT to go towards a full lock-down, but we cannot continue to have persons behaving recklessly while numbers of active cases keep rising” said Minister Ottley.

The burden on the healthcare sector is tremendous. Just yesterday SMMC announced that they would have to cut back on all non-urgent medical procedures at the hospital due to the overload of COVID-19 patients.

Minister Ottley is emphasizing that there are ministerial regulations in place, which regulates the following:  

1) the hours for the business sectors, all businesses are to close from 11 pm to 6 am  

2) a ban on mass gatherings

3) requirements for businesses and/or any other type of organization (like churches) to implement hand sanitizing stations, wearing of masks and social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.

To reiterate, all bars, nightclubs, dance clubs, restaurants and places rented out for parties and events, should be closed between 11 pm and 6 am. Any violation of the business hours is punishable with 4 months detention (hechtenis) or a fine of 5.000 ANG. (art. 8).

Businesses that are considered a threat to the public order, by their non-observance of protocols and their contribution to the spread of COVID-19, can be closed down (art. 3) by the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication.

If there is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in any business, or the business poses a serious threat to the health of the Public, the Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor may order closure of the buildings or sections of buildings. (art. 8).

All public gatherings are prohibited. This applies to gatherings in places accessible to the public or designated as a (general) nuisance area, including: Gas stations, Parking lots, Sports fields, and Beaches.

The public is obligated to follow the instructions from the Police at all times, as they will enforce stricter measures after 11 pm.