~ Supermarkets to remain open, restaurants only for delivery/take-out ~
PHILIPSBURG–Schools and businesses providing non-essential services across the country are required to close for two weeks as of today, Wednesday, March 18, until April 2, and the Police Force will be taking a zero-tolerance approach to businesses that are not in compliance.
The move comes as the country recorded its first confirmed case of the coronavirus COVID-19. Not allowed to open are educational institutions (with the exception of classes that can be given remotely); day care centres; early childhood development institutes; all schools; universities; training facilities; retail stores such as those selling clothing, jewellery and souvenirs; sales outlets and shopping centres; vending stalls at the Philipsburg Marketplace; conference facilities; outdoor establishments that accommodate events; outdoor recreational activities; casinos (stand-alone as well as those attached to hotels); nightclubs and dance establishments; adult entertainment centres; art galleries and other exhibition halls; recreational centres; cinemas; businesses offering recreational activities such a zip-line, boat trips and quads etc.; gyms and other indoor and outdoor sports facilities; museums; hair and nail salons and barber shops.
Restaurants can open only for delivery and take-out services. Dining in is not allowed at any restaurant even if the restaurant is located on a hotel property, Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Miguel de Weever said at a joint Emergency Operations Center (EOC) press conference on Tuesday evening.
Supermarkets and grocery stores are on the list of businesses providing essential services that will be allowed to remain open during the two-week period.
Prime Minister and EOC Chairperson Silveria Jacobs said the closures are necessary to minimise movement in the community. She said persons are able to spend time with their family during this period and can do things such as going to the beach, but should avoid large gatherings, follow proper hygiene practices and refrain from touching their faces.
St. Maarten recorded its first confirmed coronavirus case on Tuesday. The mandatory closure of non-essential businesses is one of the steps taken to stem the spread of the virus and is in keeping with similar measures taken in French St. Martin. De Weever said businesses present the most risk of spreading the coronavirus.
The full list of businesses providing essential services that are allowed to open and those that are mandated to close will be posted on the Department of Communications Facebook page today.
Chief of Police Carl John said the Police Force would be strictly enforcing the measures instituted by government and ensuring that they are adhered to along with its justice partners. He assured that police will adopt a zero-tolerance approach to those in breach and sanctions will be issued by the Prosecutor’s Office for non-compliance. “It’s for the wellness of the community and has nothing to do with crimes but [is – Ed.] for the health of everyone. This is why we are asking for everyone to cooperate, “John said.