That Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) will reopen for passengers from Europe and North America on July 1 is wonderful news for the island’s dominant hospitality industry. There was some fear it might take longer, but government understood the importance of finally restarting the local tourism economy left practically at a standstill for already three months.
Logically there will be compulsory testing and screening also based on special international civil aviation guidelines. Once here, visitors are to take certain precautions but there is no mandatory quarantining, which had been the biggest concern.
Borders are already open to St. Eustatius and Saba, Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao (ABC islands), Anguilla, St. Barths, Martinique and Guadeloupe, with Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to follow this Monday. Of course, it depends on those territories and regional airlines when and to what extent these routes will be serviced.
For local carrier Winair it can in any case mean an eagerly awaited resumption of flight operations and hopefully the ferries to Anguilla will soon begin sailing as well to normalise movement within the region. That is important for the hub-function of PJIA too.
Stakeholders are urged to strictly follow the Travel Entry Requirements they were given, to protect both their customers and employees. One should always keep in mind that any new significant COVID-19 outbreak and the message that would send could easily defeat the entire purpose of opening back up so quickly in the first place – to restore the people’s livelihood.
This freedom to conduct “everybody’s business” again should therefore be handled with great care and responsibility. It is an opportunity to make a buck “The Friendly Island” can ill afford to mess up.