On Monday, August 16, Saba is implementing new measures for travelers from Aruba, Curaçao, and St. Maarten. Because of the increased number of COVID-19 cases in these Dutch Caribbean countries, all passengers from these islands will need to submit a negative PCR test taken a maximum of 72 hours prior to arrival on Saba, whether they are vaccinated or not.
Vaccinated persons traveling from these islands will not be required to quarantine. However, additional measures will be in place and they will have to undergo a test on day 5 after arrival. During these 5 days, these persons are encouraged to work from home when possible, to avoid crowded areas and to wear a mask in public. Vaccinated youth will need to stay home from school. Also, they cannot take part in after-school activities and other organized events for 5 days and they must test on day 5.
All non-vaccinated persons must quarantine unless coming from a low-risk country. Both vaccinated and non-vaccinated persons traveling from regular very high-risk countries must go into quarantine for 5 days with pre-travel and on-island testing.
The decision to implement a compulsory PCR test and other measures for Curaçao, Aruba, and St. Maarten was taken by Saba’s Outbreak Management Team (OMT) during an extra meeting on Friday, August 12. During that meeting, the OMT discussed the current COVID-19 situation in St. Maarten and other islands in the region.
Special attention was given to the situation in the Dutch Caribbean countries, in particular St. Maarten, which is Saba’s main hub. The number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in St. Maarten. The Netherlands Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM has called the large increase in St. Maarten “worrisome.”
The St. Maarten Medical Center is at its capacity mainly due to the delta variant and the low vaccination rate on this island. Considering the situation in the Dutch Caribbean countries, the OMT decided to create a special very high-risk list with extra measures for Aruba, Curaçao, and St. Maarten.
“Saba uniquely has a high vaccination rate of over 90 percent of the adult population and we acknowledge that the Dutch Caribbean countries have high COVID-19 numbers. We also realize our dependency on vital activities such as connectivity and health care services,” stated Island Governor Jonathan Johnson.
Johnson reminded the Saba people in a public statement that Saba was in a mitigation phase and no longer in containment. “We continue to encourage everyone as a community to take personal responsibility. Adhere well to masking and physical distancing regulations when off-island, even if vaccinated. Call the Saba Cares clinic should you develop symptoms in the two weeks after returning to Saba.”
The new measures for the Dutch Caribbean countries also impact short trips of less than 48 hours between Saba and St. Maarten. For short trips, the same applies, except for the pre-travel test. Because the person has only been on St. Maarten for less than 48 hours, there is no need to test before coming back to Saba. Vaccinated and unvaccinated persons returning from a short trip to St. Maarten will be tested on day 5, while non-vaccinated travelers will still need to be quarantined for these 5 days. Vaccinated travelers do not. They are encouraged to work from home as much as possible and practice responsible distancing by staying away from crowded areas.
On a positive note, Johnson stated that the start of the vaccination of youngsters between the ages of 12 and 17 has been going very well. Per last Friday, 64 youngsters (or 87 percent) had received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine. Vaccination of the youth will continue in the coming weeks.