The World Health Organization declared on Wednesday March 11th that the coronavirus COVID-19 has become a global pandemic. Based on this declaration, the Government of Sint Maarten has stepped up its preparations to keep the community of Sint Maarten informed about the latest developments and the Governments COVID-19 preparedness, prevention, and mitigation response measures. After deliberations with the Council of Ministers and the EOC, a number of decisions have been taken.
Effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020, all international flights and cruises originating out of the United States of America, Europe and the United Kingdom to Sint Maarten are cancelled 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 vessel.
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 sufficient supply of food and medication on the island.
As of March 14th, up until 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.
The second decision is in regards to large gatherings throughout the country. There will be no new permits 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 these recommended advices 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.
This is the most recent statement issued by the Prime Minister of St. Maarten.