Government Commissioner Marnix van Rij.
~ Statia to remain closed for visitors ~
- EUSTATIUS--After consultations with stakeholders at home and abroad, the public entity St. Eustatius has decided that most but not all measures that were taken on March 18 to curb the spread of COVID-19 will be lifted under the Ninth Emergency Ordinance, which went into effect on Wednesday, July 1. “This means that the island can get back to its normal life,” said Government Commissioner Marnix van Rij.
The reason for lifting most emergency measures is that there are no active cases of COVID-19 in Statia at this moment. The island has also entered the summer period, during which the schools are closed. Many residents will be staying home during this period or only making short-distance trips to other neighbouring islands that are also COVID-free, such as Saba, for example.
However, persons are still required to obtain a permit for large social events, as was the case before the pandemic occurred. This means that all restrictions in regard to restaurants, bars and shops have been lifted.
Previously, restaurants could only operate at 50 per cent of their capacity, while large stores were only allowed to let in 15 customers at a time, and small stores five persons.
As the schools are currently closed for the summer holiday, no restrictions were deemed necessary, while measures related to churches have also been lifted, as well as the limitation to group gatherings of 50 persons in one location.
“[Acting Government Commissioner – Ed.] Alida Francis and I are very happy that we are able to announce this. We have seen the community of Statia being very responsible and disciplined in general the last couple of months. We feel safe enough to take this measure and we count on you in respect to co-responsibility,” Van Rij stated.
Meanwhile, the public entity is urging that everyone adheres to hygiene measures and remains vigilant with respect to COVID-19.
Van Rij said that controlling the island’s borders has been the most successful instrument so far in keeping the COVID-19 pandemic contained in Statia.
However, countries in South America, the United States and Antigua demonstrate that COVID is still around and the number of cases around the world continues to rise. Therefore, Statia will continue assessing risks based on a country’s COVID-19 status.
Countries and islands are categorised as either high-, medium- or low-risk based on their COVID-19 situation. If someone arrives from a low-risk country, which means there are no active cases of COVID-19, that person can travel to Statia and does not have to go into quarantine.
Arrivals from medium-risk countries will be required to go into self-quarantine for two weeks and if someone arrives from a high-risk country, he or she will be placed into two weeks of quarantine at a designated accommodation.
Not everyone will be able to enter the island, as the government will continue its policy of only allowing essential workers, medical referrals and their companion, stranded Statians and returning students to enter the island.
“We will ease the situation internally, [which means that] life on the island will return to mostly normal, but we will continue to control the borders because we are very conscious of the danger and risk of bringing COVID-19 virus to the island,” Van Rij said.
He said the contract with crisis manager Pieter Glerum will be extended. Glerum arrived in Statia on April 9, to help the island government during the COVID-19 crisis. Originally he was scheduled to stay for five weeks, but that has now been extended until the end of this year.