The Council of Ministers of St. Maarten decided Tuesday, June 30, to postpone all commercial flights to and from the United States (US) for the next two weeks.
Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmila de Weever said on Tuesday afternoon that the government made this decision primarily because of the surging number of coronavirus cases in the US since last Friday.
She also said there was a risk of St. Maarten’s internal border being closed, as French side officials “strongly suggested” they would close the border to the Dutch side if flights from the US were permitted to land at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA).
It is likely the French side’s stance was influenced by the decision of the European Union (EU) to keep its borders to the US closed.
Earlier on Tuesday, the EU announced the 14 countries on its “safe travel list” from which they will allow non-essential travel to the EU as of July. The US, Russia and Brazil are among the most notable of absences from this list. The “safe” countries are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay, said the European Council.
De Weever said the government is working on a repatriation flight for residents who had expected to travel home in this two-week period.
Despite US flights being prohibited for the next two weeks, flights from Europe and Canada will be allowed as of tomorrow, Wednesday.
Flights from Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Eustatius, Anguilla, St. Barths, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are already allowed.
Passengers must adhere to several health requirements in order to arrive or depart St. Maarten, including having tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel, wearing a mask at all times in the airport terminal building, and body temperature screenings on arrival, among others.
More information about travel and health requirements can be found on government’s website www.sintmaartengov.org.