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St. Martin/St. Maarten is one island, representatives should work on joint solutions to safeguard economy during COVID-19 pandemic.

PHILIPSBURG/MARIGOT:--- The Presidents of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry St. Martin and Chamber of Commerce and Industry St. Maarten in a joint press conference are calling on authorities to reopen the borders as the effects on the border controls are detrimental to businesses on both sides of the island.
President of CCISM Angele Dormoy said that the CCISM wrote a letter to the Prefecture and only recently received a response informing them that the health crisis with COVID-19 is far more important than the economic crisis due to COVID-19. Dormoy says she also believes that every life matter but she also believes that the two sides' governments must work jointly on solutions to flatten the curve on COVID-19.
Dormoy said that St. Maarten/St. Martin has gone through a lot together such as natural disasters and the borders were never closed since the signing of the treaty of Concordia since 1648. Dormoy said the people of St. Martin/St. Maarten has always lived as one island and that have lived together in harmony.
Dormoy said that in March 2020, when the coronavirus was detected on the island the country shut down for a period of two months with far less cases. She said COVID-19 is not going anywhere and people must learn to live with COVID-19 and move on with their daily lives such as doing business. Dormoy further said at the moment there are no borders closed in Europe and why does it have to take place on such a small island.
She said that the border controls have been affecting everyone since people traverse both sides and shop on both sides of the island. She stressed that she was born on St. Martin and have seen St. Martin/St. Maarten as one island.
President of Chamber of Commerce St. Maarten Benjamin Ortega also called on governments to reconsider, reconvene and re-establish that St. Martin, St. Maarten is one island and whatever affects one side also affects the other side. Ortega said that the two sides Chambers of Commerce are now working on a letter to send to both side governments regarding the border closers and its effects on the people.
Ortega further explained that the two sides have started a joint campaign through the creation of flyers to further sensitize the population on the hygiene measures that must be respected and followed in order to flatten the curve on COVID-19.
Asked by SMN News if any contact was made with authorities on the national level knowing that the Prefette is following orders given to her. Dormoy said no such contact was made but they do have the intention to send a letter to the Minister of Overseas with their concerns.
Also asked if anyone ever took the time to find out the exact reasons why the border controls resumed and if it had anything to do with safeguarding the French medical institutions especially knowing that the French side engaged in massive testing for COVID-19 which is free of charge while on the Dutch side residents have to pay for these tests if they are not showing signs of COVID-19. Both Chamber representatives did not do any research but also agreed that every life matter and that while there are border controls person wishing to cross the border for medical reasons are allowed to do so.
Ortega said that the two sides Chambers started a journey to reunite St. Maarten, St. Martin and since then they have been working well together. While the business representatives are calling for unity neither of representatives could say why a joint agreement could not be obtained when the government of St. Maarten wanted to reopen its borders to the United States on August 1st. Bear in mind, the Collectivity of St. Martin and the Prefecture of St. Martin spoke out against the reopening of the borders to the USA but the government on St. Maarten went ahead and open without having a joint agreement. The Chambers Presidents were also asked why were their opinion when the Prime Minister of St. Maarten Silveria Jacobs called on the residents not to cross over to the French side when cases of COVID -19 were confirmed on the French side of the island. Ortega said he could not speak on behalf of Prime Minister Jacobs but said people should not act or make statements based on emotions.
Ortega further explained that there have been a 42% reduction in first registrations, 15% of businesses are now closing down, while there is 56% of inactivation of businesses.

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