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Johnson withdrew injunction against Planet Hollywood’s building permit

PHILIPSBURG:--- The Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment & Infrastructure (VROMI), the Honorable Egbert J. Doran, hereby informs the general public that on Wednesday, October 28th, 2020, Steven Johnson withdrew the injunction case against the Ministry of VROMI.

Minister Doran stated that during the court procedure, which took place before the administrative court, it became clear that Johnson’s requests would be denied. Johnson had requested the court, among other things, to nullify the building permit, which was granted to Balaclava N.V. However, Johnson had previously filed an objection against the building permit on August 7th, 2020. Consequently, it is not permitted for the same objection to be filed at the court and to the Ministry of VROMI simultaneously. Subsequently, Johnson would be declared inadmissible by the court. Thus, the objection process is currently pending.

Due to the aforementioned, Johnson decided to withdraw the court procedure after assurances were given on behalf of the Minister of VROMI that a date for an objection hearing would be scheduled. In addition, Balaclava N.V. gave Johnson assurances that it would not start with any type of building activities as long as no decision on the objection process was given. In fact, Balaclava N.V. stated that it would refrain from such building activities during the appeal period as well, which is a period of six weeks.
Apparently, the court procedure began due to Johnson not receiving a response to the objection that he filed. In the statement of defense submitted, it was pointed out to him, as well as during the court hearing that in all objection cases the Minister has four months to make a decision, of which the response period can be extended with an additional 30 days. Considering that the request was filed on August 7th, 2020, this response period evidently had not passed its due date.

Additionally, an article was published in the Daily Herald on September 16th, 2020 by Johnson pending the objection process. In this article numerous and completely unfounded allegations and accusations were uttered by Johnson about the Ministry as well as Balaclava N.V. According to the article, Johnson is seemingly heading a crusade against Ministry of VROMI and even makes accusations of illegal activity. This is regretful because these accusations are very serious and not based on fact whatsoever. Any type of evidence supporting these claims is missing, as was pointed out in the statement of defense that was submitted to the court.

Many of the statements made by Johnson in this article, as well as in the court documents submitted by him, are incorrect. Johnson for instance states that the second building permit was not subject to public scrutiny, which is simply wrong because it was published in the National Gazette on August 7, 2020, that a building permit was issued, thereby allowing the public to submit their objections. As was extensively argued in the statement of defense, an extremely due process was followed before issuing the second building permit to Balaclava N.V. Not only were the considerations of the judgment of April 29, 2020, taken into account, Johnson’s statements were also considered. Most importantly, Balaclava N.V. provided a significant amount of additional information that was previously missing from the request, on the basis of which an informed decision was made. The building permit is completely up to par with the Building Ordinance as well as the general principles of good administration.
Moreover, the Ministry tried to involve Johnson as much as possible in this process whilst issuing the building permit. Johnson attended a meeting on June 10, 2020, in which he voiced his concerns and after that meeting, Johnson was invited to peruse all the additional documents Balaclava N.V. had provided. Johnson declined this invitation and is therefore not in a position to make any type of accusations about the technical soundness of the building permit. All of the unfounded accusations and allegations made by Johnson about the Minister in the article are therefore vehemently denied.

Re- Confinement ordered for France as of Friday October 30th to December 1st – President Macron.

emmanuelmacron13042020Paris France:--- French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Friday that France will enter into another phase of re-confinement from Friday, October 30th to December 1st, 2020 as the country battle to bring COVID-19 under control. The overseas territories such as St. Martin is not part of the re-confinement.

President Macron in his address to the nation said “I know how tired it is. I know the ′′ never-ending day ′′ impression that many are sharing tonight as new measures were announced. This time is difficult, it tests our unity, feels us. But we must stand together and be supportive.”

The coronavirus is circulating at a speed that even the most pessimistic forecast did not anticipate. France will never let hundreds of thousands of its citizens die, the President assured.

That is why starting Friday and until December 1st minimum, the whole country will be re-confined, with adaptations for the overseas departments and territories alone.

Just like springtime:
→ Travel will be limited, with a certificate, only to work, get to a medical appointment, assist a loved one, shop, or air near your home.
→ Private meetings outside the family core, public gatherings, and trips between regions will be excluded, except for All Saint s' Holiday returns, i.e. until Sunday.
→ Businesses defined as non-essentials and establishments receiving from the public, such as bars and restaurants, will be closed.
→ The state will continue to provide a massive aid to small enterprises impacted by taking over their turnover losses up to 000 10 a month. Employees and employers will continue to receive partial unemployment. Cash measures for expenses and rents will be planned. A special plan will be announced for freelancers, merchants, very small and medium-sized enterprises that are dreading more than anything next few weeks.

But we learned the lessons from the first wave and some rules will evolve:
→ Daycare, schools, colleges, and high schools will remain open with enhanced health protocols. Universities and higher education institutions will, unlike online courses.
→ The work will be able to continue. Wherever possible, telework will be widespread. Utility windows will remain open. Factories, farms, and construction will continue to work.
→ Visits to EHPAD and nursing homes will be allowed this time in strict compliance with the health rules. I also wish people with disabilities could benefit from the flexibility they need.
→ In this time marked by Toussaint, the cemeteries will remain open.

I trust in you. We will hold together thanks to each other's sense of responsibility. Success depends on the civic of each and every one of us.
We will rise up if we stand together and supportive: we will make it!

No Additional Measures for St. Martin--- Prefecture St. Martin.

President Emmanuel Macron has just announced the establishment of a second lockdown throughout the national territory. The aim of this one is to stem the spread of the COVID-19. outbreak. Overseas Prefets can arrange these measures in accordance with local situations.

Since the beginning of March, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy have confirmed 566 and 83 respectively; 10 people have died. On the week of October 19 to October 25, an additional 25 cases were registered in Saint-Martin and 6 in Saint-Barthélemy. Incidence rates (the number of people positive for covid-19 per 100 inhabitants) and positivity rates (number of people positive for COVID-19 on number of tests carried out in one week) have decreased compared to previous weeks but are, for Saint-Martin, still above the warning threshold.

Two people are currently being hospitalized at the Louis Constant Fleming Hospital Center and health evacuations take place every week towards the CHU of Guadeloupe and Martinique. More than ever efforts must be continued.

Given the health situation and the proximity to the tourist season, Sylvie FEUCHER, Prefette of Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin, has decided, for the moment, not to take any further measures.

Those already in place remain in effect:

• Drink rates and restaurants close at midnight;
• group gatherings of more than 6 people are prohibited on the public road;
• rallies of more than 6 people in institutions receiving from the public must be declared in Prefecture;
• wearing mask is mandatory in all establishments receiving the public and on the busiest streets;
• establishments receiving from the public must enforce the 4 m2 per person rule;
• restaurants can continue to welcome customers without exceeding 6 people per table, wearing a mask is mandatory for staff and traveling customers, and all customers must be seated.

The entire population is urged to avoid private events and to measure the issues of poor individual behaviors for the island's economic future.

The permanent objective pursued by the Prefecture since the beginning of the crisis is to master the epidemic, the success of the tourism season, and restart of the local economy. Without a strong and supportive involvement of all of us, the virus will continue its circulation and develop. Despite repeated calls for individual responsibility from the Prefecture and health authorities, parties were held on the island's beaches last weekend; some establishments continue to fail to comply with the essential rules followed by the majority; they endanger the health situation. These irresponsible behaviors must stop. Administrative procedures are underway to close concerned establishments.

Every citizen of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy has in his hands the responsibility and the opportunity to contain the epidemic by continuing the application of barriers, wearing the mask, and limiting his social circle.

If the health situation were to degenerate due to individual behaviors, a lockdown measure would be taken immediately.

The Nature Foundation St. Maarten Shares Concern over Excessive Numbers of Fatal Boat Strikes on Sea Turtles in 2020.

naturefoundation28102020PHILIPSBURG:--- Over the weekend the Nature Foundation received a report of a dead sea turtle found in the waters close to Beacon Hill and Burgeaux bay. The green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) clearly died due to a boat engine and was drifting around for some days, until it was found on Sunday by the dive school SXM Divers. This year again a concerning amount of sea turtles have died due to boat strikes, although the water activities are slow due to COVID19. So far for 2020, the Foundation reported already 5 sea turtles deceased due to boat strikes.

“We were very sad to find the dead sea turtle, especially as due to COVID 19 reduced activities much less boat traffic is happening this year, however, we still find dead sea turtles. Apparently, some boats chose to speed in the foraging grounds of sea turtles, or the water surface is not monitored during boat driving. Since last year we see an increase in reported dead sea turtles, five of them died due to boat strikes in and around the Simpson Bay Lagoon area, two sea turtles died in our trash, ending up entangled in a chair and fishing gear, also an additional amount of sea turtles died on the French side. Sea turtles are vulnerable species, when they forage they need to come up to the surface in order to breathe, speeding boats do not provide the sea turtles enough time to escape back into the safe zone” stated Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern Nature Foundation’s Manager.

Sea turtle population numbers have plummeted to dangerously low numbers throughout the past century due to human impacts, bringing many species close to extinction and causing them to be listed as critically endangered. On St Maarten, all sea turtle species are protected by international laws and treaties as well as local laws. Based on ARTICLE 16 and 17 of the Nature Conservation Ordinance St. Maarten it is illegal to kill, wound, capture, pick-up, and have animals that belong to a protected animal species, to directly or indirectly disturb their environment resulting in a physical threat or damage to the fauna or to commit other acts which result in disturbance of the animal. It is also forbidden to upset an animal belonging to a protected species, to disturb damage or destroy its nest, lair, or breeding place, as well as to take the nest of such an animal. Also, it is forbidden to pick-up or to destroy the eggs of animals belonging to a protected species, which Sea Turtles are.

“We are seriously concerned about the survival chances of our sea turtle population and urge to increase and enforce the protection level of our precious sea turtles. We are asking all boaters to pay attention to sea turtles when driving in our waters and to reduce their speed to lower limits close to shore and in Simpson Bay and Great Bay” stated the Nature Foundation.

The Nature Foundation asks that individuals contact the Foundation when injured or dead sea turtles are found, as proper burial is needed, the Foundation is also the designated authority for sea turtle management and other endangered and invasive species issues. Currently, sea turtle nesting is still occurring on several beaches, therefore please report any possible nesting signs and tracks to the Nature Foundation, as all sea turtle nests are being monitored by the Foundation.

The dead green turtle also had several tumors due to the Fibropapillomatosis virus, a common disease found in sea turtles probably facilitated by poor water quality. The animal can live with the tumors for a long time, but it does show us something about its health and the health of the surrounding waters. The cause of these tumors is unclear; however polluted water could certainly play a role. Scientific research found a link between excess nitrogen (sewage) which accumulates in algae that sea turtles eat. This can cause Fibropapilliomatosis in sea turtles, which forms tumors and is the leading cause of deaths in endangered green sea turtles.
Photo Credit: Daniel Norwood, SXM Divers


Government at odds on COVID-19 testing, claims to be awaiting the green light from RIVM. Is Government really speaking with the business sector?

sarahwescotwillliams0304201“During the past week again Government’s lack of cohesion on an important matter was as glaring as a sunlit day”, commented Member of Parliament, Sarah A. Wescot-Williams on the public meeting regarding the financial and socio-economic outlook of Friday last.

PHILIPSBURG:---  While debating in the second round, MPs received answers to questions in the first round via email from the Minister of VSA. Answers such as: “At present, all antigen tests are inferior to RT-PCR, from a diagnostic performance perspective. Use of antigen tests to conduct source and contact tracing among the community would result in more missed cases (false negatives), leading to a higher burden of disease, a higher number of hospitalized cases, and possibly a higher number of deaths. At this moment, the World Health Organization does not endorse the use of antigen tests for screening or mass testing. Sint Maarten has the capacity to continue to use RT-PCR to test the local population, and in accordance with international guidelines, will best serve the health of the population by continuing with this internationally recognized strategy”.

As per its own travel advisory currently in effect, the Government states “Other tests such as antibody tests or antigen tests and tests performed outside of this 120 hours period will not be accepted. On April 30, 2020, the Prime Minister had announced that “Currently, labs in the Netherlands and Bonaire are carrying out antibody testing, which uses blood to determine whether persons have been infected. As a result of our interest in carrying out rapid testing, St. Maarten will soon be the first Dutch Caribbean country to carry out these tests, thanks to the RIVM.”

In the same release, the Prime Minister also made reference to the supply of test kits coordinated by a Member of Parliament and commented as follows: “The EOC also looks forward to assessing the test kits provided by United People’s (UP) party Member of Parliament Omar Ottley, which were donated by community-minded local businesspersons for use in the country to assist in minimizing the spread of COVID-19”. Was that done?

Now we have the minister of VSA who responds to the motion passed on Friday regarding antigen testing at our ports and states that the motion will spur him to do what he is already doing more urgently.

All of this begs the following questions:
Has the RIVM given the green light for the rapid antibody testing as announced in April of this year?
Has the Government subsequently employed antibody testing?
What information has been derived from these antibody test results?
Has the EOC/CPS/RIVM assessed the kits donated by community-minded local businesspersons through Member of Parliament Ottley?
What was the result of this assessment? Have these kits been used? If so, what information has been derived from these antibody test results?

“The Government or rather the NA/UP coalition should get its act together on the whole matter of testing, before engaging in a public debate about the types of tests, their usefulness and application, etc.
“It would appear that the Ministers are caught between the health and economic considerations, without a clear vision for moving forward. The Government must prudently balance the economic interests versus the health of our country, in close collaboration with the French authorities, and must sooner rather than later take the necessary decisions. Going over to rapid antigen testing for incoming passengers, as the motion of Parliament recommends, requires swift adaptation. Can we adapt quickly? And can we take all the mitigating measures to protect the people of the country? Only the Government can answer these questions”, MP Wescot-Williams concluded.


St. Maarten will continue the process of decolonization of countries.

silly07032020PHILIPSBURG:--- Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs confirmed on Wednesday that the government along with the parliament of St. Maarten will continue the process of decolonization by giving support to the decolonization committee.
Jacobs said information in the past gave indications that the process was completed however just a few months ago she learned of several reports where the Netherlands was also informed that the process is yet to finalize.
Jacobs said the parliament of St. Maarten has been in contact with her and she was asked several questions regarding the decolonization process. She said it is expected that St. Maarten government and parliament will pass the necessary motions that will support PRO Soualiga or the decolonization committee to approach the United Nations General Assembly for the protection of the rights of self-determination.
Jacobs said over the past months people are becoming more aware of their rights especially since the “Black Lives Movement” was established. Jacobs said despite proceeding the UN St. Maarten will continue its discussions with the Netherlands in order to obtain the necessary financial support that is needed for the survival of the country and its people.
While the countries Curacao and Aruba already passed such motion, both countries also agreed to the conditions set forth by the Netherlands in order for them to obtain financial support. One such condition is the establishing of the Caribbean Reform Entity.

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