Recent developments regarding the new Omicron version of coronavirus should not be taken lightly. The variant first detected in South Africa has led to global travel restrictions for that country and neighbouring nations, but it is already present in many others.
The Netherlands counted 13 cases from 61 positive tests among 624 passengers on two flights from South Africa, while some 5,000 others who arrived at Schiphol airport earlier since November 22 were asked to quarantine.
St. Maarten also restricted visitors originating in South Africa within a 14-day period. The same goes for Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Mozambique.
In addition, effective December 6 fully vaccinated travellers from the Netherlands and various other European states will again need a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 48 hours of departure or an antigen test within 24 hours. Unvaccinated persons can only enter with a PCR test of 48 hours or less prior to the trip.
Travel from France to St. Martin and St. Barths now requires an antigen test no older than 48 hours or a PCR test no older than 72 hours, while for unvaccinated persons it can be either test but no older than 24 hours. These measures were taken despite declining COVID-19 numbers on both sides of the island.
The idea is to keep it that way and so the already badly hurting tourism economy does not have to be closed with all possible social consequences once more. As stated before, this remains a matter of survival for practically the entire population.
There is no reason to panic, as valuable relevant experience has been built up during the pandemic and booster vaccine shots will be provided soon to the Dutch and French Caribbean territories. However, at least until then everyone must continue adhering to safety measures such as social distancing, frequently washing hands and wearing face masks when appropriate.
Stick to the protocol.