PHILIPSBURG–As the number of COVID-19 cases in St. Maarten continues to rise, the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA is now restricting the opening hours of bars, nightclubs and other entertainment establishments.VSA Minister Richard Panneflek addressed the public Thursday evening in a national briefing on measures being taken to flatten the curve of COVID-19. In his address, he noted that the country has had a drastic increase in the number of active COVID-19 cases over the past several weeks.
Not wanting to implement another lockdown, the government has instead chosen to implement stringent rules limiting social gatherings at nightclubs, bars or anywhere large crowds may convene, from 12:00 to 6:00am. According to Panneflek, this measure is necessary to bend and flatten the curve of the spike of COVID-19 cases.
“Although many are of the opinion that the rise in COVID-19 cases is due to the borders reopening to the US [United States – Ed.], these cases are locally transmitted,” said Panneflek. He stressed the importance of wearing a mask, practising social distancing, limiting large gatherings, washing hands with soap and water, and frequent use of hand-sanitisers.
He further reminded the community that there are those who may be carrying the virus, but because they are asymptomatic this may not be evident, making the need to adhere to proper safety measures all the more important.
Panneflek also stated that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently put St. Maarten at warning level three (see related story).
VSA Inspectorate head Dr. Earl Best further stated that CDC recommends that travellers avoid all non-essential international travel to St. Maarten.
In accordance with the CDC warning, persons travelling to St. Maarten are advised to inform themselves on the entry requirements and restrictions.
Dr. Best further explained the requirements and restrictions that have been put in place for those travelling to St. Maarten.
Persons travelling to the island, whether remaining in St. Maarten or in transit to another island, must complete an online health pre-clearance declaration available atwww.stmaartenentry.com. A valid negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test must be completed within 72 hours prior to travel to St. Maarten.
Persons travelling to the island are also encouraged to have health insurance coverage. VSA is looking into making this a mandatory requirement in the future.