On Wednesday evening Government Commissioner Marnix van Rij announced the introduction of a curfew to stem the spread of COVID-19 in St. Eustatius.
ST. EUSTATIUS--The public entity St. Eustatius has instituted a curfew from 6:30pm to 6:00am to stem the spread of COVID-19. The curfew started Wednesday at midnight and will conclude at midnight on Thursday, September 24.
Statia currently has seven persons in isolation – one more than Tuesday, 105 persons in self-quarantine and 26 pending test results.
Government Commissioner Marnix van Rij said the Public Health Department needs a two-week window to get a clear view of the situation and to conduct contact-tracing and sourcing to hinder the further spread of the virus.
In the meantime, the public entity strongly advises the public to adhere to COVID-19 rules such as good general hygiene, social distancing and wearing face masks. Employers are required to make wearing a face mask mandatory for staff. Many businesses have already instituted this policy.
Public gatherings are no longer allowed anymore. Previously, public gatherings were allowed to a maximum of 15 people. Now persons can only gather in their own home with their own family. Persons are allowed to walk on the street, but social distancing should be respected.
Van Rij said the current circumstances call for a curfew. Exempted from the curfew are members of the police and fire departments, medical staff, emergency workers at utility company STUCO and telecom company EUTEL, security services, members of the government crisis team, airport staff and garbage collectors.
Only persons with an exemption pass are allowed to be on the street after curfew. This situation is comparable to when a hurricane is passing the island, Van Rij explained.
All non-essential businesses are ordered closed. Essential businesses such as supermarkets, the pharmacy, the medical centre, the airport, the harbour, the oil terminal and construction sites are allowed to be open between 7:00am and 6:00pm.
Dining in at restaurants is not allowed, but restaurants may open for delivery between 7:00am and 6:00pm. Delivery is not allowed to take place during the curfew hours.
Quarantine accommodations will be allowed to serve persons in quarantine and isolation. Bakeries and butchers can only be open between 7:00am and 6:00pm.
Supermarkets and convenience stores are exempted, but only one person per family will be allowed to enter, with a maximum of 10 persons allowed inside large establishments and five in smaller stores.
A skeleton staff will be working at the harbour to prevent too many people grouping together. The unloading of cargo ships will be subject to a new protocol, as will the picking up of cargo. Line tugboat workers may not have access to the island for the coming two weeks.
Only one air-traffic controller will be on duty at F.D. Roosevelt Airport at a time. Lines on the floor must be marked to indicate where passengers must stand and only a maximum of three passengers at a time will be allowed in the departure hall.
Working hours of civil servants of the public entity will be adapted and civil servants of the central government can work at the office as long as they respect COVID-19 rules. Civil servants who can work from home will be able to do so.
“These measures have a huge impact on the island. We are talking about a very strict regime, but we are not talking about a lockdown,” said Van Rij.
“We think it is important that the activities around the harbour continue, as it is important that the island is supplied and that goods continue to come in, and also the activities around the oil terminal under restrictions of the maritime protocol.”
He said the public entity did not want to order a lockdown, as this would have severe social and economic consequences.
He implored the public to follow the COVID-19 rules, especially employees involved in infrastructural works, “because, regardless of everything, public health is the first priority.”
Essential workers will no longer be allowed entry into Statia, with the exception of medical professionals. There will be a strict limitation on entry to the island, especially during the next two weeks.