Great Bay Beach with the Port St. Maarten cruise facility in the background pre-COVID-19. (File photo)
PHILIPSBURG–Quarantining for 14-days; adhering to social distancing of two metres at all times; preventative measures such as the provision of hand sanitiser, tissue and garbage bags for good respiratory etiquette; and specific cleaning guidelines for COVID-19 are amongst the guidelines and protocols in place at Port St. Maarten for the reopening of the country.
The port said in a statement on Tuesday that it has various guidelines and protocols in place that are compliant with the phased-reopening process of the economy which moved into Phase 3 on June 1.
According to the port, the country is open to yachts, cruisers and private vessels and private flights that would facilitate crew changes based on the protocols approved by government. All government COVID-19-preventive policies must be adhered to, these policies can change if circumstances change.
The four key points related to the maritime sector include that everyone arriving the island must quarantine for 14-days: exemptions could be made for arrival from specific countries based on bilateral agreements which would be announced and will also be applicable for yachts; social distancing of two metres must be adhered to at all times; ensure adherence to preventative measures such as the provision of hand sanitiser, tissue and garbage bags for good respiratory etiquette; and specific cleaning guidelines for COVID-19.
As it relates to the Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority and operational procedures for the Simpson Bay Bridge and the Causeway Bridge for maritime traffic, Port St. Maarten said it is compliant with all COVID-19 regulations related to border protection, public-health safety and security.
The opening of the Simpson Bay Bridge will remain at two times daily and this will be re-evaluated around mid-June as the country moves into Phase 4 of the economic reopening process.
Currently the Simpson Bay Bridge opens at 9:00am for inbound and outbound traffic, and again at 2:00pm inbound/outbound. The Causeway Bridge opening is synchronised with the Simpson Bay Bridge openings and is coordinated with mariners by calling the VHF-12 channel.
Government’s protocols for the maritime community contains the general guidelines applicable to all incoming crew/guests and vessels; departing vessels (those vessels currently in St. Maarten waters looking to depart in advance of the hurricane season); protocols for arriving vessels; and vessels arriving from the French side of the island, Port St. Maarten said in its release.
A number of measures have been taken at the initiative of port management such as the “Sterile Port Protocol” which includes enhanced sanitisation measures which have been in place since mid-March at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise and Cargo Facility.
“The St. Maarten port community front-line staff have been ensuring that the global supply chain related to the movement of cargo, food, medical supplies, essential goods critical to our community and other consumer goods, continues to move throughout the region to St. Maarten and the surrounding islands,” it was stated in the release.
“Port St. Maarten continues to provide essential services to the community with top priority being the health, safety and well-being of the port workforce, and its users.”
Port management reminds personnel and various port users to remain vigilant and take the necessary personal preventive measures as promoted by the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) to minimise the risk of infection from COVID-19.