~ Avantika will be providing delivery and take-out services ~
PHILIPSBURG–Although there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in Dutch St. Maarten, businesses across the country are taking precautionary measures to protect their employees and clients and keep the virus at bay.
Boolchand’s closing for 2 weeks
The Boolchand’s Group has decided to take measures early. The Group will be closing all of its stores across all brands for a two-week period as of today, March 17, until March 31. “Although we hope to re-open our doors on April 1, we cannot make any commitments at this stage and will provide updates as the situation develops,” the group said in a press statement on Monday. In St. Maarten, the Group operates two Boolchand’s locations, two Pandora locations, two Crocs locations and one Havaianas location.
The group said its first priority is and always has been the well-being of its people and it has made the decision to compensate its staff in full for the two-week period of closure. “There will be no reduction in salaries so that they can continue to manage their everyday needs as we all take some time away from the business and focus on the well-being of our families and loved ones. This will pass and it is our hope that others will similarly follow suit for the good of the community at large,” the Group said.
The Group said it has been monitoring the situation closely. “It has become increasingly clear that the only effective way of ensuring the safety of you, our valued customers and of our employees and the community at large, is to do our part to enforce and encourage social distancing.
“It has been widely agreed that it is only with effective social distancing that the spread of the coronavirus can be stopped and we can begin to look forward to a return to normalcy in our everyday activities.”
Fun Miles closed
Fun Miles has also closed its offices until further notice indicating that “nothing is more important than public health and we want to play our part in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.”
Although closed, Fun Miles is still “very much operational” and its customer service will be available for customers.
CIBC: Reduce in-branch transactions
CIBC FirstCaribbean Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Collette Delaney urges customers to reduce in-branch transactions and use the bank’s digital and online channels whenever possible.
“You can use these services to do your banking anywhere and at any time, to make transfers, pay your bills and perform transactions between accounts. You may also wish to consider other forms of electronic payment, including Point of Sale machines,” Delaney said in a notice to customers.
She also advised customers to avoid crowds at the branch by banking online or by telephone by contacting its Call Center and to try to limit cash transactions by using their debit and credit cards instead.
“The events of the past couple of weeks have been unprecedented as the world continued to grapple with the outbreak of COVID-19. It’s an unsettling time for all of us and as you try to plan your own affairs for the near future, your thoughts will naturally turn to your various partners and stakeholders, who support you, including your financial services partner,” Delaney said.
“We at CIBC FirstCaribbean have also been adapting to this completely new and evolving situation and have been making best efforts to ensure that we are as prepared as we can be, given the circumstances, to continue to provide you with service. We continue to monitor the situation and are guided by local governments in all the countries in which we operate. We continue to provide staff with up-to-date information as it becomes available to equip them with the information they need to minimise the risk of exposure. We have also provided them with guidelines to follow should they feel they are at risk. We have stopped all business travel and we are closely monitoring the movement of our staff who have any other planned travel.”
Delaney said the bank’s business continuity plans are up to date and have been tested and the bank is in a position to implement it if required.
“As more cases of the disease are diagnosed in our region, information on protecting oneself will become more important. As the region’s key financial partner, we felt it was our duty to use our available channels to pass on some key information from the World Health Organization on protecting oneself. We will start issuing some of the WHO advice via our social media channels for the benefit of our clients and for the entire Caribbean Community which we serve.”
Some ENNIA staff working from home
In the insurance industry, ENNIA said effective immediately, some of its employees will be working from home, which means they can still be of service to customers. “Our ENNIA office is currently open, and we are available to service your insurance needs and to answer your questions. When you visit our ENNIA office, we kindly ask you to use the provided hand sanitiser and keep sufficient distance from other visitors as well as our employees.”
ENNIA urges everyone to avoid physical contact with other people as much as possible. It prefers that customers contact the company from their home or other location. They can ask their questions via phone or send an email to
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. “We are also still available by phone at 543-2232 or 543-2233. However, contacting us via our website or email will be faster for you and will allow us to process your requests and answer your questions faster and more efficiently.” Insurance can also be purchased online.
Grant Thornton limits face-to-face contact
While Grant Thornton’s office will remain open as usual, the establishment plans to take certain necessary precautions. These include limiting face-to-face contact with clients, suppliers and other visitors as much as possible starting Monday, March 16, until further notice. “By limiting these contacts, we want to reduce the risk of contamination for our team members, clients and other stakeholders we have frequent contact with. Alternative communication like Skype, phone calls and email will prevail above face-to-face meetings,” Grant Thornton said in a notice to its clients and business relations.
The establishment will also avoid shaking hands; expects visitors and employees to wash their hands frequently and to sneeze/cough in their arm, not in their hand and expects that if someone feels sick, that they will not visit the office. “We truly trust that by working together, we can successfully battle the (potential) spread of the virus, while at the same time continuing our daily work. We really appreciate your agility in making this happen,” Grant Thornton said.
“The rapid spreading of COVID-19 across the globe is putting significant stress on societies, economies and individuals. We have currently no registered cases of the coronavirus in St. Maarten and, of course, we would like to keep that situation as long as possible. The only way to limit the impact for our people, communities and small-island economy is to make sure the virus does not expand across our communities. Virus spreads through social contacts. Therefore, it is key to limit such contacts in order to flatten the growth curve of the virus spread.”
Avantika offering delivery, take-out
Measures are also being taken in the restaurant industry. Avantika, for example, will be providing delivery and take-out services. The restaurant said it has partnered with Easy Eats delivery company available on the Google or Android app for this purpose.
“We all continue to navigate the novel coronavirus, we want you to know that we are doing everything that we can to protect the well-being of our Avantika team members, all of our customers and everyone in the communities that we serve,” Avantika official Anish Chugani said in a notice. “We anticipate that many of our customers will be staying home more often over the coming weeks and we are committed to serving and supporting our communities by providing delivery or take-out of high-quality food. Our health and safety measures to deliver the best Thai food has always been at the heart of what we do every day,” the establishment said.
“In the spirit of extra precaution, we have significantly increased our already thorough cleaning and sanitation procedures for all of our restaurants. Team members who are feeling or exhibiting any illness symptoms are required to stay home, or, if already at the restaurant, will be sent home immediately. As always, the safety of our team members, customers and communities is absolutely our number one priority.”