PHILIPSBURG--Although businesses have been mandated to close at 11:00pm for several weeks now, many persons have refused to go home after nightlife establishments shut their doors, instead turning parking lots and gas stations into make-shift party zones.
A new regulation will try to put a stop to this practice, as Justice Minister Anna Richardson has enacted a ministerial decree that bans gatherings “in expanded areas, such as gas stations and other public areas.”
The decree went into effect yesterday, Wednesday, June 16, according to Richardson, who added that it will be “extended, when necessary, until order is restored.”
Describing it as a “zero-tolerance ministerial decree”, Richardson told reporters during yesterday’s live Council of Ministers press briefing that the regulation is “highly necessary” to curb these large gatherings.
“I would like to remind the public that this type of behaviour is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated,” she said. “This practice of large crowds gathering comes with noise nuisance, disturbing public order, causing dangerous traffic situations, and the excess use of alcohol and/or use of narcotics.”
Richardson said the St. Maarten Police Force KPSM has drafted a planned approach to break-up large after-hour groups, and that the Immigration and Border Protection Service (IBPS) will be assisting police in the controls.
“I am sending a stern warning to all persons within the community,” she said. “Persons found not abiding by the law or exercising misconduct will face the consequences of their actions to the full extent of the law.”
As for the regulation that mandates businesses to close at 11:00pm, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmila de Weever said on Wednesday that it will still be in effect for at least another week-and-a-half.
“We just want to keep things as they are right now,” she said, adding that both her and Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA Omar Ottley do not want to pull back mandatory business closures to earlier hours in the evening.
“Thank you to everyone for their patience as we manage this pandemic and make the decisions that are the best for the country,” De Weever concluded.