PHILIPSBURG–As it relates to vaccination and whose ultimate decision it is, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmila de Weever passed over to Minister of Health, Social Development and Labor VSA Omar Ottley the question posed in the Council of Minister’s press briefing on August 4. He responded: “We have the final say.”
Ottley said his ministry takes advice from the Netherlands and uses data from the United States (US) Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “But the final decision is based on the government of St. Maarten.”
Ottley’s remark came after a presentation by De Weever on the importance of an international approach to the prevention of the spread of the COVID-19 virus. “St. Maarten is not a stand-alone country,” De Weever said. “We survive on the interaction and travel of everyone else coming here.”
The warning from the US State Department against travel to the French West Indies, including St. Martin, will influence tourism on the Dutch side of the island, De Weever stressed. “Tourists for the French side come through our Dutch airport.”
The State Department raised its advisories to “Level 4: Do Not Travel” for destinations that included French St. Martin. “Anything that happens on the French side, we will feel it over here on the Dutch side,” said De Weever. “As we say in tourism: ‘One Island, One Country’. If the French side is listed on a higher level, rest assured that it applies to the Dutch side too.”
Since the Dutch side opened, more than 60 per cent of arrivals come from the United States. “We have to take what is happening there into consideration. If something major happens in the US, we are heavily affected here on the island,” De Weever said.
She emphasised that while the decision-making on the French side is by the French government, and St. Maarten is assisted by the Dutch government and supplied with vaccines by the Netherlands, “It is a culmination of all of that data, all of that dialogue with our partners, which are France, the Netherlands and the US, that comes into play for our decision-making here on the island. We are more than capable as a government to take a decision on our own, but taking into consideration the data that is available to us globally.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/we-the-government-decide-on-vaccination