THE HAGUE–Good news for tourist destination St. Maarten: Dutch authorities over the weekend categorised the island as code yellow, which enables leisure travel. St. Maarten was under a negative travel advisory, code orange, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday adapted its travel advice for St. Maarten. The destination went from orange, only essential travel, to yellow, meaning that there are safety risks, but travelling is allowed.
“Due to the reduction in the number of infections with the coronavirus in St. Maarten, the risk has been lowered. That is why the colour code has been adapted from orange to yellow. After staying on St. Maarten, you don’t have to go into home quarantine for 10 days upon returning to the Netherlands,” it was stated on the travel advisory website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
St. Maarten travellers are reminded of the fact that they must fill in an entry form online and upload a negative test result of a PCR test which has been taken no more than 120 hours before departure to the island. The website to do so is www.stmaartenentry.com. Travellers are also reminded that they must have a valid travel insurance.
The switch from code orange to code yellow came somewhat as a surprise because on November 18, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had stated during a debate in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament that St. Maarten was orange and “would remain orange.”
Code yellow takes away several obstacles for people who want to travel from the Netherlands to St. Maarten. Not only was the 10-day home quarantining under code orange a very unattractive prospect upon return to the Netherlands, but there was also the fact that under code orange persons need to have an urgent reason to travel to St. Maarten. Family visits were not deemed essential.
Then there was also the threat of a compulsory negative test result upon entry in the Netherlands which the Dutch government wants to implement in January 2021 for countries with code orange and red. Currently, there are no requirements for arriving passengers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport from high-risk areas aside from quarantining.
For persons travelling from St. Maarten to the Netherlands under code orange, this would have meant doing a PCR test in St. Maarten no more than 48 hours prior to arrival in the Netherlands, which is a logistic challenge considering the limited testing capacity in St. Maarten.
And finally, the code yellow is good news for residents of St. Maarten who want to travel to the Netherlands because they don’t have to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival and can freely enjoy their time in the Netherlands.
With St. Maarten being added to the code yellow list, all Dutch Caribbean islands, with the exception of St. Eustatius and Saba, are now code yellow. Aruba became code yellow on November 19 and Bonaire on November 4. Curaçao has been code yellow since July.
With almost the entire world being code orange or red, and the negative travel advisory that was issued by the Dutch government, the Dutch Caribbean islands are one of the few remaining vacation destinations for residents of the Netherlands.
The four islands do have entry requirements that incoming passengers must comply with: a negative PCR test result, completing a health form online and a valid travel insurance. The PCR test time varies: for Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire the test can be no older than 72 hours, while for St. Maarten this is 120 hours.
Entry regulations for St. Eustatius and Saba are stricter: persons from high-risk areas need approval from the local government beforehand, they must show a negative test result upon arrival, immediately proceeded by quarantining with another PCR test at the end of the quarantine.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/st-maarten-is-now-code-yellow