~PJIAE reopens to Europe and other Caribbean destinations on July 1st, the French threatened to close the border. ~
PHILIPSBURG:--- The Government of St. Maarten has decided to push back the arrival of flights from the United States for the next two weeks announced Minister of TEATT Ludmilla de Weever. De Weever said the decision to push back those flights for the next two weeks was indeed a hard one due to the country’s dying economy. However, the Minister said it was quite an easy decision when looking at the health and safety of everyone locally and the surge in positive COVID-19 cases in the United States.
Minister de Weever said that discussions are ongoing with the French side since the European Union has placed a ban on all US flights. De Weever said that the French were even looking at closing the border between the two sides should St. Maarten open its borders to US flights. The Minister made clear that the French do not decide for the Dutch however, notifying passengers that were scheduled to visit St. Maarten that would not be able to cross the border would have been almost impossible on such short notice. She said that the decision to push back was based on the high amount of positive cases in several US states and not a Franco-Dutch fallout.
The Minister further explained the safety of the people of St. Maarten took priority thus the decision was taken to postpone US flights for the next two weeks. De Weever called on residents to continue with maintaining social distancing and the hygiene measures and wearing a mask at all times when entering a public place.
De Weever said St. Maarten cannot keep its borders to the US territory closed forever since the economy will be further impacted. She said there are people that are not working since March 2020. Minister de Weever said that the Princess Juliana Airport will open its borders as of July 1st to Europe, and several Caribbean Islands, while the government is still busy looking at having other Caribbean countries visit St. Maarten during the recovery. De Weever said that the government is also revising the list of nationals that can visit St. Maarten.
The Minister also clarified that while St. Maarten took the decision to postpone for the next two weeks, airlines have not changed their schedules. She said that the airline that pushed back their flight schedule for a few days is Je Blue. In the meantime, the Minister said Government is looking at ways to get its residents that are stuck in US territories repatriated.
Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs said that it is expected that the French and Dutch sides including the State, said that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is being prepared for signature. She said that while the French threatened to close the border, should that take place will only be on the part of the French side.