A Dutch marine is seen on patrol in Sint Maarten during the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017.
PHILIPSBURG–An official request has been sent to Governor Eugene Holiday for military assistance for St. Maarten in advance of a coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak in the country, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs announced on Sunday.
The request is being handled via “the usual channels.” The request was made after a strategic meeting with Emergency Services Function (ESF) 5, including the Police Force and Immigration and Border Protection Services on Saturday, March 21.
In another strategic meeting held on Sunday, March 22, with ESF 5, ESF 10 and Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) related to business closures, it has been decided that as of Monday, March 23, essential businesses may remain open for service until 6:00pm from Monday through Saturday.
This relates to grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, banks, emergency and paramedic services, hotels, restaurants, essential government services, (including telecommunication and postal services, judicial services and utilities), public transportation operators, hardware stores, shipping and cargo companies. “This is as long as each continues to ensure proper provisioning for social distancing of one to two metres and maximum large groupings of no more 20 persons,” Jacobs said.
“If the required social distancing and maximum grouping of 20 persons are not adhered to, then the establishment or institution will be shut down by the authorities with immediate effect.”
On Sundays, for the next two weeks, besides emergency services, only gas stations, pharmacies and hotels (with attached amenities for guests only) will be allowed to open until 6:00pm. Also allowed are night-time employees of news outlets and necessary emergency services.
She said on a positive note, Police Chief Carl John has commended business owners in St. Maarten for their compliance in adhering to the closure time of 8:00pm, which started Saturday night, and looks forward to the same compliant behaviour as the new closure time goes into effect on Monday, March 23.
No beach vending, no beach parties
As related to the restrictions for businesses, Jacobs said no beach vending will be allowed until further notice. No beach parties will be allowed and no groups of more than five persons will be allowed on the beach. Social distancing for persons who wish to visit the beach, must be the recommended one to two metres apart. “If this is not adhered to, you will be asked to leave the beach. If this continues, then this will also be curtailed,” she said.
The Government Building has instituted guidelines for persons who are unable to get service via phone or email to be able to continue to go to the building during limited times and by appointment only. “See our government’s Facebook page for details as to the particular service you may need.”
No residents can return for next two weeks
Sunday, March 22, at 11:59pm was the last day for residents (passengers) of St. Maarten to travel back to St. Maarten for the next two weeks. “Therefore, no airlines will be bringing in residents or persons during the next two weeks. The only flights that you will see coming into the airport would be cargo flights or flights that are coming in to pick up passengers to return them to their home address,” Jacobs said. “These two weeks will be used to assess and maintain spread within our borders in collaboration with our French counterparts. I also wish to update, that we will have our weekly meeting on Monday, March 23, which is also the Treaty of Concordia Day – thus a fitting day to continue to collaborate and cooperate with our French partners.”