Commissioner Alida Francis
ST. EUSTATIUS–Government Commissioner Alida Francis has announced a new COVID-19 policy in regard to the Carnival celebrations in July, even though there are currently no active cases of COVID-19 in St. Eustatius. To ensure that the island remains virus-free and in light of the low vaccination numbers, some “very serious” measures were taken.
The public entity St. Eustatius recently gave the St. Eustatius Carnival Committee the green light to start preparing for Carnival 2021. However, the celebrations were reduced from 10 days to seven days – from July 26 until August 1.
Because Carnival is a high-risk that which will run for seven days, this could lead to the spread of COVID-19 in Statia which has a vaccination degree among its adult population below 50 per cent.
Strict measures are deemed necessary because the island cannot handle a large outbreak due to the lack of medical facilities, doctors and nurses. However, the island government maintains its commitment to opening up the island carefully and gradually.
One of the measures to be taken is to ensure that the number of incoming persons is limited during the Carnival period. Also, security on visitors will be strengthened.
“We are at a stage where life must gradually return to normal, but we also feel the responsibility to ensure that all the hard work we have achieved this past year does not go down the drain,” Francis said.
From July 16 to July 31, non-vaccinated people will be allowed to enter only if they are essential workers or private persons who have urgent reasons to travel. These persons will be placed in central quarantine.
“Not everyone is adhering strictly to the quarantine regulation,” Francis said in explaining the reasoning behind the central quarantine.
After July 21, vaccinated persons will be allowed in only if they come to Statia for essential work or urgent travels. These persons will also be placed in quarantine.
Any person wishing to travel to Statia must seek permission to enter first. Travel for medical reasons will be considered unavoidable and necessary.
Persons who are already registered for entry into Statia will be contacted about the stricter measures the public entity will be putting into effect to be able to keep the Statia community safe.
Exemptions for humanitarian reasons are possible, but under strict protocol. This includes, for example, death in the family.
“If you are not vaccinated you will go into 10 days of full quarantine, and if you are vaccinated you will have to go into five days of quarantine,” Francis said. “This means that you must try to get into the island on time to go into quarantine before the start of Carnival, if you want to attend the festivities.”
After quarantine everyone has to undergo an exit test for COVID-19.
“While we want to give the community a much-needed and deserved break away from the norm of COVID-19 that has restricted our social life, sometimes we have had to give something to get something,” Francis said.
As of September 1, non-vaccinated persons from high-risk countries who want to enter Statia as a worker must go into quarantine on entering the island.
Francis said that unless Statia has a safe vaccination rate, government will maintain a much stricter protocol. There will be no more allowed work during quarantine. The reason is that many foreign workers have had the chance to be vaccinated in their host country or country of origin.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/new-travel-policy-for-st-eustatius-carnival