All French side bars, restaurants to close at 11:00pm as of tonight

All French side bars, restaurants  to close at 11:00pm as of tonight

Préfet Serge Gouteyron and President Daniel Gibbs at the press conference Tuesday morning. (Robert Luckock photo)

115 new COVID cases in one week

MARIGOT—Préfet Délégué Serge Gouteyron on Tuesday ordered all bars and restaurants on the French side receiving the public to close at 11:00pm effective tonight due to the deterioration in the COVID-19 situation on both sides of the island. Sanitary controls and inspections by law enforcement will also be increased.

  His decision came following the reporting by regional health agency ARS of 115 new positive COVID-19 cases during the week of May 16-23 from 1,871 tests realised, though the reality is that number will be higher now. The decision was made to harmonise with the Dutch side which took the same measures on Sunday evening.

  Six persons are currently being treated for the virus in the Louis-Constant Fleming Hospital, including a 77-year-old patient placed on a ventilator. Two of the six patients in hospital are relatively young; a woman (27) and a man (39).

  It was noted that incidence and positivity rates are high. The Préfet added this is only the first step in controlling the spike and if there is no improvement the restrictive measures will be strengthened again. That could include closing establishments at 8 or 9:00pm he said. The situation will be monitored over the next week.

  Gouteyron had previously warned that this action would be taken when cases started to rise. He urged the population to continue adhering to sanitary protocols and above all to get vaccinated.

  He regretted that the Galisbay vaccinodrome is not operating anywhere near its potential of 400 vaccinations per day.  Only about 80 people a day are using the facility.

  Club du Tourisme de Saint-Martin (equivalent to St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association SHTA) has sounded the alarm over the extremely low uptake of vaccinations on the French side and if not improved will have dire consequences for the next tourism season. The Club fears travel agents and tour operators will not consider St. Martin as a viable, safe destination.