~ Residents have until March 22 to return ~
PHILIPSBURG--As of 11:59pm Tuesday, persons who are not residents of St. Maarten are not allowed to enter the country. After Sunday, March 22, no one, not even residents, will be allowed entry to the country.
The more stringent restrictions come as the country tightens its measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, on the heels of the first COVIID-19 case in St. Maarten on Tuesday.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC) chairperson Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs said at a joint press conference on Tuesday evening that St Maarten residents have until Sunday to return to the country. Residents booking flights to return home will have to show proof of residence such as a St. Maarten identification card, driver’s licence or registration form. Students registered in the Netherlands who do not possess these documents “will have a hard time getting on a plane,” Jacobs said.
KLM has flights to St. Maarten on March 20 and 22. Jacobs urged persons in St. Maarten who are trying to leave the island to make arrangements to be on the return flights to the Netherlands on March 20 and 22. “After March 22, there will be no guarantee of inbound flights, which will be necessary to have outbound flights,” she said.
The restriction does not apply to outbound flights. “Once airlines decide to stop flying to St. Maarten for commercial reasons, the only way persons still in the country would be able to get out is through chartered flights. Flights will be allowed to retrieve passengers, but after Sunday we will not be allowing any passengers to enter, not even St. Maarten residents,” Jacobs noted.
Each St. Maarten resident who enters the country now will be required to be on mandatory quarantine at their home for 14 days and should be prepared to do so. Jacobs warned that authorities are prepared to take measures if this mandatory quarantine is not adhered to. She said it would be better for persons to adhere and be quarantined in their own homes than be forced to quarantine in a facility, noting that this option “would appear to be (like) a prison.”
Airline crew will be allowed to fly to St. Maarten as well as passengers who are specialists with evidence to travel to the island on invitation of St. Maarten.
Flights will continue between Saba, Statia and Curaçao to facilitate persons particularly in Saba and Statia and to facilitate medical transfers to Curaçao, which is currently the only option for medical transfers.