Gendarme check-point between Cole Bay border and Bellevue. (Robert Luckock photo).
MARIGOT–Due to the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and the limited hospital capacity, the Préfecture and Agence Regional de la Santé (ARS), after discussions with the Collectivité and in agreement with Ministry of Overseas France has decided to extend the traffic restriction between the two parts of the island until September 15.
As of August 26, there were 139 active cases in St. Martin for a total of 198 confirmed cases and eight in Saint-Barthélemy, for a total of 17 confirmed cases.
St. Maarten has 248 active cases for a total of 444 confirmed cases. Some 11 people are hospitalised at the Louis-Constant Fleming Hospital and four have been transferred to the resuscitation service of the Guadeloupe Hospital. Seven Dutch residents are hospitalised in Sint Maarten. There have been six deaths on the French side and 17 on the Dutch side.
The French Prime Minister recently stated that Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin and St. Barths are classed in a zone for “active circulation” of the virus. The inclusion of St. Martin and St. Barths in Annex 2 of the decree of July 10, 2020, authorises the Préféte Déléguée of St. Martin and St. Barths to take new measures to combat the spread of the virus. However, no further action is envisaged at this time. Those that are already taken remain in force i.e. authorisation from the Préfecture for gatherings of more than 10 people; closing of bars and restaurants at midnight; wearing of masks is mandatory in all businesses, temporary controls on access by sea; temporary controls on access to St. Martin.
Journeys between the French islands are not subject to the presentation of a negative PCR test less than 72 hours. Traffic to the French side remains strictly limited to the following compelling reasons: serious family reason, emergency health issues and proven professional reason.
At the beginning of the school year, children attending schools on the French side and residing on the Dutch side will benefit from distance learning organised by the National Education. This is also the case for all children who cannot return to school because of their personal situation.
These measures are put in place temporarily to limit mixing of the population and to slow down the spread of the virus on the territory. The efforts already made show a slower growth in the number of cases. Wearing the mask is strongly recommended in all circumstances and the respect of barrier gestures is essential. “All these measures are essential to limit the spread of the virus and avoid saturation of the health care system.
These are temporarily implemented and reassessed on a daily basis. Health of the population is the only argument that should guide our decisions,” it was stated.