The sixth emergency ordinance went into effect in Statia at 6:00pm Friday, May 15.
Government Commissioner, Marnix in Rij said he had conversed with Deputy Government Commissioner Alida Francis on several occasions about their strategy on whether to upscale or downscale the emergency ordinance based on strategies of three pillars. The first pillar is to maintain strict control on persons entering the island. Van Rij said that the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has severely hit the USA, Latin America, Caribbean region, but luckily not the islands of Statia, Saba and Bonaire.
He said this is why the government will continue to be consistent with its policy of strict controls on the persons entering the island. The second pillar concerns having a good and robust health care system.
The government’s objective has always been to increase the island’s level of medical services and medical capacity.
The Hospitainer is expected to be operational from Monday, May 18, and Queen Beatrix Medical Center will be open to the public and follow its normal schedule. The hospital has only accepted emergency cases since Monday, March 23.
The third pillar, Van Rij said, relates to the measures on the island with regard to social distancing. This was instituted in the first emergency ordinance on March 18, as well as limitations on school closures.
Schools were gradually reopened on May 11, but with an adapted schedule.
Non-essential businesses were closed on April 3 after two positive COVID-19 cases were discovered.
Van Rij announced that the government is going to ease the measures and allow non-essential businesses to be reopened.
Recreation and sport were also limited due to the emergency ordinance. With the new measures the government is going to ease the limitations.
Van Rij said the most important changes in the emergency ordinance are in relation to group gatherings. The number of persons that can be gathered in one location at the same time will be increased from 15 to a maximum of 25 persons. He said it is too early at the moment to increase this to a higher number.
What is most important, he said, is that persons will only be allowed to enter the island in a very restricted manner. “The nolicv right
now states only essential workers or medical referrals.”
The government will increase the maximum number of persons allowed to enter the island from 15 to 30. The number was increased as advised by the Public Health Department, which has to monitor persons who enter the island. All persons entering the island will have to go into quarantine if they are travelling from countries where COVID-19 virus is still active.
Van Rij said the government has been receiving an increasing number of requests from stranded Statians who want to return home. The priority right now is essential workers and patients, but the government is also making an inventory of the stranded Statians (students, family members, etc.), who flew out before the first emergency ordinance took effect. The government is working on a new protocol with regard to this.
“We cannot let everybody in at the same time, I hope that persons understood this. We understand that it is a big sacrifice for the ones who have been away from home and their loved ones for such a long time,” Van Rij said.
In the upcoming two weeks, the island is expected to see more persons allowed to enter the island than previously. This will all depend on whether these persons meet the requirements and if they respect the rules of self-quarantine. Van Rij said this process will be slow, but he asked everyone to respect their decisions, “as the government endeavours to make decisions very carefully, with the intention to treat everyone in a fair and equal way.”
The Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management made the decision to extend the restriction on civil aviation in the Dutch Caribbean islands’ air space to June 15.
Van Rij explained that the Minister had made the decision because COVID-19 is still present especially in the countries to which the travel ban applies, such as all European Union countries, United Kingdom, Canada, Dominican Republic, United States of American (USA) and other countries. This means that persons stranded abroad are not able to return to the island.
The Daily Herald.