~Students studying overseas can return home before ban.~
PHILIPSBURG:--- Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs in a National Address on Saturday, March 14th said that the Government of St. Maarten have decided after meeting with EOC that a travel ban will be implemented for the United Kingdom, United States, and Europe for a period of two weeks, the ban takes effect on Tuesday, March 17th, 2020.
Students studying abroad can return to St. Maarten prior to the implementation of the ban.
Jacobs said that the ban will not affect the Caribbean Islands, Curacao, and Aruba.
KLM/ Air France flagged passengers.
The Prime Minister said six passengers on the Air France/ KLM flight on March 14th, 2020 were flagged due to their origin, of the six passengers two are residents of St. Maarten that came from Switzerland while four of the passengers are from Germany. She said none of the passengers showed any signs or symptoms of the COVID-19 but the four German passengers will return on the same flight back to their destinations because there is currently a restriction in place for travelers coming from Germany.
NO Food Shortage on St. Maarten.
Jacobs called on the residents on St. Maarten to not panic since there is no food shortage on St. Maarten. She said that the government was assured that there is sufficient food on the island that that trade will continue despite the travel ban that is in place.
The Prime Minister said that government was assured that there is also enough medication and that is no reason for the hoarding of either food or medication.
Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs National Address on COVID-19 MARCH 14, 2020
“People of St. Maarten, I hereby address you, as Prime Minister and Chair of the EOC (Emergency Operations Center), in an update for today Saturday, March 14, 2020, as part of the process to keep the community of Sint Maarten informed about the latest developments and the Governments COVID-19 preparedness, prevention, mitigation and response measures.
The World Health Organization declared on Wednesday, March 11 that the coronavirus COVID-19 has become a global pandemic. Based on this declaration, the Government of Sint Maarten has stepped up its preparations and today March 14, after deliberation with the Council of Ministers and the EOC, a number of decisions have been taken.
These preventive measures are to limit the exposure of the Sint Maarten people to COVID-19 due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in Europe and the United States of America.
Effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020, all international flights and cruises originating from the United States of America, Europe and the United Kingdom to Sint Maarten are canceled for a period of two weeks. These travel restrictions do not apply for regional air and sea travel at this time. Travel within the Dutch Caribbean – Saba, St. Eustatius, Bonaire, Aruba, and Curacao remains in place until further notice. This travel restriction also applies to other seafaring vessels.
Arrangements will be put in place for visitors to return home with their carriers. Cargo flights/vessels bringing in food supplies, household goods, oil, gas, as well as medicine will continue. Also allowed, will be travel by technical and medical assistants whether via commercial or chartered airlines.
I would like to reiterate that there is no food shortage on the island. There is no reason to engage in panic buying or hoarding of food. There is a sufficient supply of food and medication on the island. We remain in constant contact with our suppliers and have been assured that replenishments will continue.
As of today, March 14th, up until and including Monday, March 16th, there is an opportunity for St. Maarten students studying abroad and residents as well as essential personnel to return to the country ahead of the 2-week travel restrictions.
All residents and nationals traveling back to Sint Maarten from the United States, Europe, and the United Kingdom during this period, are recommended to monitor their health for 14-days for consistent cough, fever or respiratory problems (consistent with COVID-19) and maintain a social distance for the safety and security of the community. If you experience the aforementioned symptoms, please call your family physician. Do not go to your doctor or the medical center. During the phone call with your doctor, you will be advised further what actions should be taken.
The second decision regards large gatherings. With respect to social gatherings throughout the country, new permits will not be granted for gatherings of more than 100 persons. Permits which have already been issued relating to gatherings of more than 100 persons will be postponed until further notice.
Government also strongly recommends that persons in a public setting should keep a distance of at least one meter from each other under certain settings. All institutions, businesses, organizations, religious services, and other entities should adhere to this recommended advice in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The current situation unfolding at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) has been brought to my attention, as there was some confusion as to the travel history of 6 passengers on the Air France flight which landed today Saturday, March 14th, based on the fact that German nationals were on board. As we know Germany has been added on March 11th to our list of restricted areas of travel. In the latest update received, two of the passengers are residents of Switzerland and originated from there and therefore are allowed to travel to St. Maarten as per our current travel restrictions. The other 4 passengers of German nationality who originated in Germany will return on the same flight back to France. The passengers were kept on board until this information was confirmed, and none have any symptoms related to COVID-19.
PJIA will issue a press release on this matter. The general public is advised not to allow themselves to be riled up before having all the facts. I will also continue to provide updates as the situation develops.
Follow our Government Radio station – 107.9FM. For official information, statements and news updates or visit the Government website at www.sintmaartengov.org/coronavirus and our Facebook Page: Government of Sint Maarten.
As Prime Minister of St. Maarten, I wish to encourage all of us to remain steadfast in preparing for what is a worldwide pandemic. While we currently have zero confirmed cases, these are all measures aimed at maintaining a COVID-19 status. I pray that we would take our fellow man/woman into consideration while going about our daily activities, and with the knowledge that we are ensuring your safety, refrain from panic buying and fear-mongering. Continue to practice proper hygiene at home, at work, and in the community.
Knowledge is power! Stay informed and be prepared. We are strong, resilient and faithful people and trust that this too shall pass.
God bless St. Maarten and her people as we work together; government and community to keep her safe. Thank you.