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Statia’s state of emergency to remain in effect until May 15

St. Eu­statius will remain in a state of emergency due to the outbreak of the coronavi­rus COVID-19 until May 15, it emerged from the fifth emergency ordinance which came into effect Fri­day, May 1.

The new emergency or­dinance is a continuation of the previous one. The only change is the proposed gradual reopening opening of schools from May 11.

Other emergency mea­sures remain in force. No more than 15 persons can gather together in the same location. All non-essential businesses are closed, in­cluding restaurants, which can only offer takeout or delivery. Only 15 persons are allowed in large super­markets at the same time, while observing a distance of at least 1.5 metres. Small supermarkets are only al­lowed to have five custom­ers inside and one person at the counter.

Government Commission­er Marnix van Rij said that he and Deputy Govern­ment Commissioner Alida Francis appreciate how well most residents of Statia are respecting the measures laid out in the emergency ordinances.

“We recognise that it has not been easy and that we arc living in very uncer­tain, confusing times. This can put you and your loved ones under pressure. Many of you who are suffering economically as you can­not go to work, or their jobs and businesses are consid­ered non-essential, or these businesses have chosen to close or were directed to close, let me assure you that in our eyes every job is es­sential here in St. Eustatius. They are essential because
this is how you all make a living,” Van Rij said.

He said the public entity has only allowed businesses that are “strictly necessary” for the island to remain op­erational during the pan­demic, as the island’s public health is government’s only objective.

“To ease the new eco­nomic situation your local government together with the Dutch government are doing our very best to come up with extraordinary mea­sures in these extraordinary times,” he said.

Van Rij stated that the social security financial package is to assist with the economic situation of busi­nesses, entrepreneurs and individuals. Persons can apply for assistance at the Social Affairs and Employ­ment Unit. “If you have not yet done so, we really want you to come forward to get help,” he said.

So far, 144 businesses, 66 self-employed persons and nine employees have asked for assistance.

A second financial package is to assist residents with the cost of water, electricity and Internet connections. The government commis­sioners held talks with St. Eustatius Utility Company STUCO and telecommu­nications company Eutel on Wednesday, April 29, on how the discounts will be implemented in the bills from May 1 until the end of 2020.

“We understand that these measures will not solve all your financial problems. Hopefully, they can help bridge the gap until we have more stable economic times on Statia.”

Many residents are won­dering when the emergency measures will be downscaled.

“Going back to life as nor­mal is our goal, but this is a long process. We cannot make hasty decisions over­night. We must take mea­sures and decisions based on expert advice,” Van Rij said. “We will have to open up the island in the future because we cannot remain closed to the outside world forever.

“However, we do not know when that will happen. We have to remain very cau­tious in every decision we make. That is why we are so focused on increasing our medical capacity, because [re-opening Statia — Ed.] before that time would be irresponsible.”

Only essential workers and returning patients and their companions are al­lowed to access Statia. These persons must all be quarantined for 14 days on their return to the island. There is a maximum of 15 persons in quarantine.

“This has been the case, and it will continue for the upcoming two weeks, as the travel ban has been extend­ed until May 15.”

Van Rij said the monitor­ing of quarantined persons will be increased because some persons have not been following the rules.
“We have dealt with that situation together with the Public Health Depart­ment,” he said. “We do see light at the end of the tun­nel in regard to easing the measures taken, because the hospitainer which is currently being installed will raise the medical ca­pacity.”

Doctors and nurses are being recruited to staff the hospitainer, which is ex­pected to be operational within 10 to 14 days.

The Daily Herald.

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