Over the past 15 months, the government has implemented public health protocols for public safety as we reopened after the first wave. Given the drastic rise to 308 active cases of COVID-19 on St. Maarten, attributed to the Delta variant, the Council of Ministers has decided to implement additional measures to safeguard the health of the general public. These measures have also been taken after much deliberation upon receiving the recommendations of our health professionals.
Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, VSA Omar Ottley stated, “Your safety is my number one priority. Although, at times actions taken by the Government may not be the popular decision, all measures taken is done in the best interest of the country. Vaccinations are not mandatory on Dutch, St. Maarten; however, I encourage those who are not vaccinated to frequently test for your safety. Knowing your status can reduce the spread of the virus. The Government is aware of the planned protest for tomorrow August 13, but please do not lose focus that this will be considered a mass gathering and I hereby urge all to be mindful of the public health measures of wearing your mask and hand hygiene. If you do not want to be vaccinated, it is your freedom of choice, nonetheless preach protocols, preach wearing your masks, preach going for self-checks and preach social distancing.”
Government will continue to promote increased compliance with the existing COVID-19 hygiene protocols such as mask usage, social distancing, handwashing and increased cleaning of touchpoints. The Council of Ministers has also decided to ban all mass-gatherings until further notice. During this period, arrangements are being made to put health management systems in place via an app or QR code. Moreover, Minister Ottley has also signed a Memorandum of Intent with nightclubs and beach bars business owners on Dutch Sint Maarten. The current business closures of 11:00 p.m. implemented on August 8, will be evaluated within two weeks with the possibility to be extended if conditions do not improve. The Ministry of VSA continues to work to finalize legislation and policies aimed at safeguarding the health of the general public.
Government’s Education Continuity Plan will be maintained as is and periodically assessed to ensure safety in our schools. Government will also be increasing promotion of the vaccine and the implemented public health protocols. As such, a vaccination pop-up will take place with the vaccination team at a date to be announced. Regular testing is also encouraged as means of knowing your status and protecting those around you.
In the interim, government has approved an alternate isolation facility for low care COVID-19 patients to lower the occupancy at SMMC. The Council of Ministers has requested and received approval for extra medical personnel to assist the overburdened health professionals and medical staff.
Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs wishes to encourage all residents to be extremely vigilant, step up hygiene and mask wearing protocols as we all know this protects our loved ones and family. “Look for the lessons learned over the past year. Keeping St. Maarten safe will depend on each of us working together. COVID-19 is real; 39 families have been dealt a severe blow as they’ve lost a loved one in the midst of this pandemic. Each life lost is a wound that will cause pain for years to come. My deepest condolences go out to the families left to mourn.
Thousands more still feel the after effects of having endured this serious virus. I caution you to move smart when out in the community, and to follow the latest developments via Government’s official platforms. Let’s work together to minimize the spread. It will take all of us, Prime Minister Jacobs concluded.”