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Fire department issues fire warning due to dry spell.

PHILIPSBURG (DCOMM):--- The Fire Department which falls under the Ministry of General Affairs, is calling on the community to be very conscious by not throwing out lighted cigarettes or matches that could result in bush fires in fire-prone areas due to the dry spell that the island is currently experiencing.

Persons, who would like to burn bush or garbage in a built-up area, or on a hillside for agricultural activities, are requested to refrain from doing so, and contact the Fire Department for advice.

The inappropriate use of fire can endanger lives, property, and the environment in these dry weather conditions that the country is currently experiencing.

Fires can get out of control by spreading rapidly at high speeds quickly threatening lives and property.

A person can help by reducing bush fire hazards by acting responsibly and following the aforementioned advice from the National Fire Department.

Those seeking information can contact the Fire Department at 542-1215, 542-1217, 542-6001, or in case of an emergency 919.

CPS gives COVID-19 Safety Preventive Measures to 225 Construction Workers of Bouygues Construction.

vsaconstruction24052020PHILIPSBURG (DCOMM):---  The construction sector is one area that could restart works in the week of May 11 phase 1 based on the four-phased de-escalation Economic Re-opening Plan. This was enacted as local COVID-19 transmission numbers came down.

Every workplace must have a system of Safe Management measures, to prevent the re-emergence of community cases.

On May 16, nurses from the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a government department under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, namely, Nadine Richardson, Shardina Blomont-Frederick, and Alicia Torres and Valone Adams (volunteers), carried out their fifth COVID-19 safety preventive measures information session at the Bouygues Construction site at Pelican Key.

The health and safety of the nation remain a top priority for CPS.

The topics discussed was: what is COVID-19; the origin of COVID-19; signs and symptoms of COVID-19; the differences between isolation and quarantine; what you should do if you suspect you have COVID-19; why it is important to maintain the two-meter social distancing; how to prevent contracting COVID-19 by avoiding touching M.E.N. (M=Mouth, E=Eye, N=Nose); proper usage and disposal of masks (surgical, cloth, N95); and the proper way to wash and sanitize your hands.

During the information sessions, information was also provided about why it is important to clean surfaces, door handles, and telephones; and about the importance of removing jewelry and watches before washing your hands.

Pierre, Safety Manager at the construction site in Pelican Key, said that he ensures that all measures are taken to protect the workers and other persons that are at the worksite and that these measures are also maintained at their living quarters.

CPS urges businesses to implement safe management practices that will support the safe and gradual resumption of normal economic activities based on the de-escalation plan of the Government of Sint Maarten.

The aforementioned adherence and compliance to safety measures at the workplace supports businesses and creates a safe work environment for employees and customers with the aim to stop the spread of COVID-19 and any infectious disease.

We all must uphold good health and hygiene practices during this COVID-19 crisis.

St. Maarten on the road to recovery, no positive cases in 11 days.

eocpanel23052020~ Government has no money to pay for quarantine facility.~

PHILIPSBURG:--- St. Maarten is now moving towards its recovery phases from the COVID-19 pandemic announced Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs on Saturday at the EOC press conference.

Jacobs said that it is now 11 days since St. Maarten registered a positive case of the COVID-19, currently, there are no patients at the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC), while there are two patients at the isolation facility while one person is confined at home. Jacobs said prior to the last positive case tested on March 12th St. Maarten did not have a positive case in 13 days. She said in 24 days St. Maarten had one positive case. Since the COVID -19 outbreak St. Maarten registered 77 positive cases with 15 deaths.

Jacobs said this weekend is the last weekend where the movement of people is not allowed, as CPS was busy finalizing their community outreach and testing. The Prime Minister said the outreach program will come to an end on Sunday May 24th 2020.
Prime Minister Jacobs said while St. Maarten is moving into its recovery phase she emphasizes that is will be the most crucial part of the process of flattening the curve and preventing the resurgence of the COVID-19 epidemic on St. Maarten. Jacobs called on residents and the students of St. Maarten that are returning to school to maintain proper social distancing and to also ensure the necessary hygiene measures are followed such as hand washing and hand sanitizing.

SZV patients that returned not placed in quarantine outside of their homes.

Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs confirmed the social media posts that stated that the patients that returned to St. Maarten were not taken to any local facility for quarantine as stated before the arrival of the patients on St. Maarten last Wednesday. Jacobs said the protocol that was in place was not followed when the patients arrived. The Prime Minister said that the patients did not arrive when it was first scheduled for. She said an investigation is currently taking place to further determine why the protocols were not executed. Jacobs said that even though the patients are not placed in a separate facility they are currently in quarantine at their homes, she said these patients were also tested prior to coming and none of them were tested positive or showed signs or symptoms.

 In the meantime, 11 persons which included students that were slated to return on Friday May 22nd could not come home due to the fact the aircraft had to stop in Barbados. Students studying in the United States are currently taking summer classes as the Minister of Education Rodolphe Samuel made the necessary arrangements, students are also advised to make contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs if they need to return home.

Prime Minister Jacobs said that St. Maarten is not able to pay for the facility to quarantine persons wishing to return home, she said persons including students that are desirous to return home must be able to pay for the time they are required to be in quarantine.

Schools Reopen on Monday for examination students.

Secretary-General of the Ministry of Education Shermina Powell said schools on St. Maarten will reopen on Monday to accommodate some 200 students that will be writing their examinations. Powell said the Department of Education worked on specific guidelines that will be implemented in order for students and teachers to maintain the social distancing and hygiene measures are followed.

Powel said classrooms are now fitted with sinks while the gyms that will be used for examination purposes are now equipped with washrooms. Students will be placed six feet apart while the buses will make several trips when transporting students to and from schools.

Secretary-General Miguel de Weever also announced that a decision was taken to allow boat owners to return to the island to remove their vessels from the lagoons since the 2020 hurricane season begins on June 1st. De Weever said that persons that come in to remove their vessels have to leave the airport and go directly to their boats and leave St. Maarten waters within 24-hours.

Head of the Fire Department Clive Richardson called on residents to begin preparing for the 2020 hurricane season as so far predictions are this year hurricane season will be an active one.

Richardson also said that this week, government offices will resume working, he said as soon as these offices open up for business then the fire department will begin processing hurricane passes for businesses.

PAF agent humiliated Dr. Michel Petit during border control.

michelpetit21082016~ wanted to know who typed up his C-waiver signed by Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs.~

PHILIPSBURG/MARIGOT:--- Dr. Michel Petit who practiced medicine for over 32 years on St. Maarten had an embarrassing experience on Saturday at the Bellevue border with an officer of the PAF in the presence of Prefet Sylvie Feucher. Dr. Petit told SMN News that he obtained his C-waiver from the Prime Minister of St. Maarten Silveria Jacobs on April 20th, 2020.
According to Dr. Petit he obtained his C-waiver when he was sought for medical advice during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic on St. Maarten, he said ever since he obtained the C-waiver he crossed the border several times without any issues even when the Dutch authorities were at the border, however on Saturday, May 23rd, Dr. Petit said he was on his way to Ace Hardware Store not realizing the Dutch side was closed for business today Saturday, May 23rd.
“I only realize that the businesses were closed when I reached Cole Bay and when I noticed that I turned around my vehicle to return to Marigot where I am living. On my way back I noticed about 20 vehicles in front of me that had multiple passengers and the PAF allowed everyone to cross over without any stringent control. I think within 30 seconds each vehicle was allowed to go through, but when I reached up, Prefet Sylvie Feucher arrived on the scene and this caused the female PAF officer to act as though they were doing such a good job by starting to question the C-waiver I obtained over a month ago.”
michelpetit23052020This officer looked at the C-waiver and told me she did not see my name on the waiver, she then asked for my passport, then she wanted to know who typed up the C-waiver in the Prime Minister’s office, all of this to show the Prefet that the PAF has been doing a good job. Dr. Petit said the embarrassment did not end there he said the Prefet approached him also and wanted to know how he obtained the C-waiver which is not the original copy. Dr. Petit said he received the waiver by email and asked the Prefet if she did not send out waivers by email or electronically during the lockdown? He said there was no other way to receive the waiver but by email. Dr. Petit further explained that in the end, Prefet Feucher and the PAF officer took his passport and C-waiver to verify it because only then the Prefet said she has a list of all the persons that were issued waivers on the Dutch side. He said the PAF officer went on to tell him that there are persons that are committing fraud by making out their own waivers and have been signing it. “I now have to ask myself if I fit the profile of someone that commits fraud.? Dr. Petit asked?
It should be noted that on Friday Dr. Petit was asked by St Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) to pick up a package on the French side that contained surgical gowns. He said he was able to pick up the medical supplies and deliver them to SMMC under two hours and that he used the same C-waiver without any problems but today a PAF officer who wanted to impress Prefet Feucher accused him of committing fraud. “ In my opinion all of this was unnecessary I am a French citizen, a medical professional that worked and paid my taxes on the Dutch side, and my vehicle has on a French license plate. I am totally embarrassed by the turn of events on Saturday and hopefully no one else gets the same experience as I did this morning.
“I have a message for Prefet Feucher, it is unfortunate that she was at the border and even questioned the C-waiver that was issued by Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs while not respecting the recommendations on social distancing. The PAF officer was about 50 centimeters from my face, she did not have on a mask and while she is touching everyone’s documents at no time did she sanitizes her hands. My passport and C-waiver were taken from me and given back which I had to spray because I do not want to get infected by COVID-19. In the event of a resurgence of the virus on the French side Prefet, Feucher should know it is caused by her workers that are not following procedures as a medical doctor I can tell you that basic procedures on social distancing are not being followed. Secondly, I passed through the border several times a week and not once I saw any vehicles were turned back, in my view when you are not there it’s a free for all so if Prefet Feucher wants to enforce the closing of the borders then she would have to stand up there at all times or open the borders for everyone to pass through and follow the guidelines set down by medical professionals and organizations such as the World Health Organization.”

Council of Ministers dialogue on Dutch loan conditions with Unions.

eocmeeting23052020PHILIPSBURG:--- Late Friday afternoon into evening, May 22, 2020, the Council of Ministers met with the unified unions of St. Maarten in order to clarify the proposal made by the Dutch Government and approved by the Kingdom Council on May 15, 2020, related to the much-publicized 12.5% personnel cost-cutting condition and other conditions within the Dutch COVID-19 support proposal which will negatively affect civil servants.

The unions represented workers in the private and public sectors namely, WITU, WICSU-PSU, ABVO-SXM, NAPB. The meeting was chaired by the CCSU. This as a result of union representatives seeking an audience earlier in the day with Prime Minister Jacobs, Finance Minister Irion, and Labour Minister Panneflek.

Prime Minister Jacobs provided an update on the events leading up to the proposal, while Minister Irion explained St. Maarten’s financial situation, exposing the need for the government to make budget cuts. The government had attempted to do such a few weeks before, however, it was clear from the response that the unions were vehemently against it. While this is definitely a last resort, and one not taken lightly by the government of St. Maarten, it was necessary to secure funding for our SSRP.

“The SSRP provides temporary financial support for three months including April, May, and June 2020, for the un- and underemployed due to COVID-19. The plan provides payroll support for businesses and support for entrepreneurs. The unemployed created and commenced this week out of government coffers. The harsh reality is that it would be unlikely to fulfill the obligations to the SSRP without taking the loan proposed by the Netherlands.” stated Minister Irion.

It was agreed after much deliberation that the government would provide the Unions with a written overview of the conditions as provided by the Dutch in writing over the weekend. Furthermore, Finance Minister Irion would prepare a revised proposal taking the current situation at hand, while Prime Minister Jacobs would ensure that the Unions would also be updated on the Pension Reform law and any other aspect of the loan proposal which had an impact on civil servants.

The government will continue to meet with all stakeholders in the coming days and weeks, including its employees, as well as government-owned companies, ZBOs and other subsidized entities to inform, dialogue and involve them in the planning moving forward as they strive to get financial assistance to the most vulnerable. “Government is seeking understanding and a sense of community from all the stakeholders mentioned to join forces with us to assist the most vulnerable in our society,“ stated Prime Minister Jacobs in an invited comment.

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