Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center Silveria Jacobs, has made the decision to postpone Carnival 2020 after emergency meetings held with the EOC and Members of Parliament on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The emergency EOC meeting was called due to the announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) that COVID-19 is considered a pandemic as of March 11, 2020. PM Jacobs had also invited the MPs to be updated and give feedback on the current state of affairs. A meeting was then promptly called with the President of the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) Alston Lourens and Treasurer Michael Granger in to inform them of the decision taken.
The decision to postpone Carnival was taken in keeping with the WHO recommendations which advises persons to avoid large crowds. Carnival involves the gathering of large crowds over a long period of time, involving close contact between persons. This is a scenario which would pose a threat to the safety and well-being of the staff, participants and the community at large.
Prime Minister Jacobs stated, “While St. Maarten currently has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, we continue making all necessary preparations to prevent the spread of the virus, as well as to prepare for the possibility of an outbreak. Government is taking all necessary precautions to ensure public health.”
In the interest of safety and security of the community, Government has also put a hold on the issuance of permits for events catering to large crowds. The maximum number of persons allowed to gather during this critical period will also be established. This decision can also impact gatherings which do not require a permit, and the general-public will be informed once other such gatherings have been identified. These measures together with travel restrictions are being encouraged to prevent exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Further information will be forthcoming.
“As government, we understand that some may be affected by the decision taken, however the health and safety of the population outweighed the postponement of our largest cultural event, and we will look forward to a time when the threat has been minimized enough for us to return to normalcy,” Prime Minister Jacobs stated in an invited comment.