The upsurge in COVID-19 seen abroad as winter approaches in the Northern Hemisphere should not be taken lightly. Infection figures on both sides of the island have been trending downwards (see related story), but that could quickly change.
In fact, St. Maarten recorded three days with more new cases than recoveries: six and three respectively on Saturday, November 13, six and two on Wednesday, the 10th, and seven and three on Monday, the 8th. On the other hand, there had been three infections and eight recoveries on Tuesday, November 9, while no figures were provided for Thursday, the 11th or Friday, the 12th.
A real local spike as seen after last year’s Halloween celebrations did not materialise – at least yet. Nevertheless, considering that the bulk of the destination’s vacationers come from countries where COVID-19 is again on the rise, caution remains in order.
Since November 1, arriving travellers able to prove they are fully injected with vaccines recognised by the Dutch Institute of Health and Environment RIVM or World Health Organisation (WHO) do not require a pre-departure test. Although so far that seems to have gone well, it bears continued close monitoring.
Some scientists are saying herd immunity is no longer possible, and even vaccinated people have been known to get infected, be it much fewer. Curaçao, for example, just reintroduced a mandatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test also for vaccinated passengers from the Netherlands, its most important tourism market.
About the last thing St. Maarten/St. Martin want right now – unless absolutely needed – is to do anything which discourages visitors, with their dominant hospitality industries only just starting to bounce back. The best advice therefore seems that everyone, residents as well as guests, stick with the protocols by frequently washing hands, social distancing and wearing a facemask when appropriate.