All international flights and cruises originating from the United States of America, Europe and the United Kingdom to Sint Maarten will be cancelled for two weeks as of Tuesday, March 17, Chairperson of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs said in a national address today, Saturday.
As of March 14, up until and including Monday, March 16, there is an opportunity for St. Maarten students studying abroad and residents as well as essential personnel to return to the country ahead of the two-week travel restrictions.
The travel restrictions do not apply for regional air and sea travel at this time. Travel within the Dutch Caribbean: Saba, St. Eustatius, Bonaire, Aruba, and Curacao remains in place until further notice. This travel restriction also applies to other seafaring vessels.
Jacobs said arrangements will be put in place for visitors to return home with their carriers. Cargo flights/vessels bringing in food supplies, household goods, oil, gas, as well as medicine will continue. Also allowed, will be travel by technical and medical assistants whether via commercial or chartered airlines.
“All residents and nationals traveling back to Sint Maarten from the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom during this period, are recommended to monitor their health for 14-days for consistent cough, fever or respiratory problems (consistent with COVID-19) and maintain a social distance for the safety and security of the community. If you experience the aforementioned symptoms, please call your family physician. Do not go to your doctor or the medical center. During the phone call with your doctor, you will be advised further what actions should be taken,” she stressed.
The PM said these preventive measures are to limit the exposure of the Sint Maarten people to COVID-19 due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in Europe and the United States of America and based on the World Health Organisation (WHO’s) declaration on Wednesday, March 11, that the coronavirus has become a global pandemic. “Based on this declaration, the Government of Sint Maarten has stepped up its preparations and today March 14, after deliberation with the Council of Ministers and the EOC a number of decisions have been taken,” she said.
No food shortage
She reiterated that there is no food shortage in the country and as such there is no reason to engage in panic buying or hoarding of food. “There is a sufficient supply of food and medication on the island. We remain in constant contact with our suppliers and have been assured that replenishments will continue.”
Germans on Air France flight turned back due to travel restrictions
Four German nationals, who arrived in St. Maarten on an Air France Flight today, Saturday, were restricted from entering St. Maarten and had to return on the same flight due to travel restrictions for Germany.
Chairperson of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs said in a national address on Saturday that there was some confusion as to the travel history of six passengers on the Air France flight as German nationals had been on board.
“As we know Germany has been added on March 11, to our list of restricted areas of travel.” Two of the passengers are residents of Switzerland and originated from there and therefore were allowed to travel to St. Maarten as per the existing travel restrictions. The other four passengers of German nationality, who originated in Germany were to return on the same flight back to France. “The passengers were kept on board until this information was confirmed, and none have any symptoms related to COVID-19,” Jacobs said.
She said Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) will issue a press release on this matter. She urged the public not to allow themselves to be “riled up” before having all the facts. Jacobs said she will also continue to provide updates as the situation develops and urged the public to continue following proper hygiene procedures and to stay connected to official government’s radio station, website and facebook page for accurate information.
The Daily Herald