PHILIPSBURG:--- On Wednesday, March 24, 2021, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs attended a high-level meeting together with Préfet Délégué for Saint Martin and St. Barths Serge Gouteyron and his support staff. Joining Prime Minister Jacobs were Head of the Department of Interior and Kingdom Affairs Angelique Gumbs, Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs Patrice Gumbs, and support staff. During this meeting, the synchronization of Dutch and French St. Martin’s current health protocols and vaccination strategy, travel restrictions, and the Platform for the realization of the proposed St. Martin United Congress were discussed.
Préfet Gouteyron expressed that the Regional Health Agency (ARS) is currently preparing to increase its vaccination rollout plan for French Saint Martin. In the interim, the ARS will be opening a temporary vaccination center in French Quarter on Saturday, March 27, to vaccinate persons who are 75 years and older and persons with underlying conditions. Currently, Louis Constant Fleming Hospital is open daily for vaccination of these persons as well. Collective Prevention Services (CPS) and the ARS have committed to synchronize their communication plan to encourage a wider portion of the population to get vaccinated. Préfet Gouteyron is also working diligently to get the go-ahead from the vaccination rollout management of the State to adjust the implementation phases to be on par with St. Maarten’s. Prime Minister Jacobs stated, “Currently we are in phase 4 whereby all persons are eligible to receive the vaccination, however priority will be given to the registered person in phases 1-3. All persons are encouraged to register to be vaccinated as soon as possible on both sides of the island.
Prime Minister Jacobs gave an update concerning the changes to Dutch St. Maarten's travel restrictions, while those on French Saint Martin have remained the same. She also took the opportunity to inform Préfet Gouteyron of the opening of the COVID-19 Testing Center located at the Princess Juliana International Airport.
On the topic of the Platform for the realization of the proposal for the United Congress for St. Maarten, Prime Minister Jacobs highlighted the importance of ensuring that St. Maarten, the Collectivité of Saint Martin as well as the Préfecture, are included in decision making on all matters that affect the people of French Saint Martin due to the differences in authorities. As it relates to the finalization of the platform, “Technical assistance is already at work and as such our local technical teams must now get together to advise on the best way forward for us to make joint decisions that relate to us in order to move St. Martin forward as a collective,” stated Prime Minister Jacobs.
“As St. Martin continues to make strides in maintaining our active COVID-19 cases at a minimum and vaccinating a large amount of our population, it is of paramount importance that these monthly meetings which have proven to be fruitful, continue with the presence of a representative of the Collectivité as well due to the shared authorities,” concluded Prime Minister Jacobs.