The State of Emergency under which the country has been placed in an effort to stem the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus COVID-19 will be extended by an additional week from May 10 to 17, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs announced on Friday.
The country was first placed under a state of emergency on April 5, and went on a 24-hour lockdown for two weeks. This was extended by three weeks, which went into effect on Sunday, April 19, and will end on Sunday, May 10. The additional one-week extension will go into effect as of May 10 and continue until Sunday, May 17. This will bring the total lockdown period to a month and a half.
Jacobs said during a live virtual press conference that the one-week extension was based on an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) assessment of the current measures in place coupled with the compliance by the public. The extension was based on a proposal by Emergency Services Function 6 (ESF 6), the health sector, which Jacobs said must be the focus, as this sector needs to be able to carry out its work in the current health crisis.
“Even St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) has noted a drop in the number of admissions and that is indeed a good sign that the state of emergency is getting the results that we want, but we must see it for a sustained period to indeed feel that the curve has been flattened,” Jacobs said. “We need more time to say that will be a certainty.”
The necessary national decrees will be prepared this week to be ready in time for the extension.
In the meantime, EOC members were reminded in a meeting held on Friday to adjust their COVID-19 plans taking into consideration the upcoming hurricane season. This will be discussed further next week.
Also discussed during Friday’s EOC meeting was the upgrading of policy developments necessary for the future reality of St. Maarten’s COVID-19 situation on a government level. Jacobs said any legislation and policies as the country moves into its recovery phase have to be planned out from now with the assistance of the ministers involved and their respective cabinets.
“We will begin sensitizing the respective ministers on key areas that they had encountered in the COVID-19 crisis that will need to be adapted so that we can move forward conscientiously taking public health as a major concern moving forward and improving the way we do service moving forward,” she said.
“We must get used to our new reality that delivery is the way to go and those asking to be able to be open must be prepared to face this new reality. All this time off gives us ample time to plan and prepare for that,” she added, noting that entities requesting permission to open should put measures in place for the safety of themselves and their clients, which should be vetted by a Task Force put in place for this purpose, amongst others.
The Daily Herald.