News this week that passengers from the United States and Canada flying to St. Maarten may now use all rapid antigen COVID-19 tests approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was no doubt welcomed in the dominant hospitality industry. Several types of similar tests had been allowed earlier, but most of these were apparently more prevalent in Europe and not readily available in areas of North America including key markets on the Eastern seaboard.
Together with reversing an initial decision to go back to a 72-hour instead of five-day pre-departure window for PCR tests, this is an important step to try to keep the tourism economy at least partially going under difficult circumstances. Since last month, testing is required for American visitors returning home, so the easier getting here can safely be made the better.
Some might wonder why one would run any – no matter how small – added risk. The obvious answer is that surviving with Dutch financial assistance as practically the only outside source of income is simply impossible, never mind the fact that it concerns loans to be repaid later.
Take the payroll support. Companies with a certain turnover loss can request compensation for that same percentage of their personnel cost up to the Social and Health Insurance SZV wage limit, but there are usually many other operational expenses such as utilities, rent, etc. Whatever way you turn it, putting “heads in beds” therefore remains crucial to overcoming the current unprecedented coronavirus-related crisis and restoring the people’s livelihood.