ORANJESTAD--The first COVID-19 cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in Aruba. The island is preparing for the fifth wave.
Aruba Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes made the announcement during a press conference on Monday morning. On Sunday it turned out that several persons who tested positive three days before were infected with the highly contagious Omicron variant.
It concerns a few persons who came from abroad, but also a few local residents with no recent travel history. This means that the Omicron variant is already being transmitted locally. For now, the safety measures that are already in place, will remain.
“Aruba has been preparing for this for a while now. That is why we took measures from early on. We see an increase in COVID-19 cases, but not a drastic one. We ask everyone to be cautious, but don’t panic. Wear your facemask, keep distance and apply all hygienic measures. Always and with discipline. We are fighting an invisible enemy, but we can fight it through discipline,” said Wever-Croes.
Some of the measures that are in effect in Aruba are, besides the obligatory facemask inside public buildings: 8 persons maximum at a table in and outside restaurants, no more than 4 persons per table at bars and rum shops, all restaurants and bars must close at 1:00 am and casinos at 2:00 am.
No alcoholic beverages are allowed in public properties, a maximum of 150 persons at funerals, inside sports events, indoor parties and nightclubs. Indoor dancing is not allowed on dancefloors, only besides the table where one is seated, and everyone must be seated at a table at parties and nightclubs. Not more than 8 persons may congregate and people are not allowed to venture on the beaches and parking lots from 7:00 pm to 5:00 am.
Aruba has already implemented stricter measures for arriving passengers. Per the end of November, persons arriving from a very high-risk country, such as the Netherlands, must test 24 hours before boarding the aircraft. Passengers may not opt to only get tested upon their arrival in Aruba.
“These measures are not to harass you, government, or visitors, and are surely not meant to give government greater power. The only reason is to protect you and your family from getting infected,” said Wever-Croes.