Passengers boarding a Winair aircraft at F.D. Roosevelt Airport. The airline currently only flies to St. Eustatius twice per week, on Friday.
- EUSTATIUS--Adjusted travel quarantine protocols went into effect in St. Eustatius on Saturday, August 1, under the Tenth Emergency Ordinance, which is set to expire on September 1. Under the ordinance Statia made the decision to elevate St. Maarten to the status of a high-risk country in connection with developments concerning the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“This decision was made according to risk-classification methodology agreed [to – Ed.] between Curaçao, Aruba, St. Maarten and the Caribbean Netherlands. Based on the number of actual [coronavirus] cases in St. Maarten and the development of … cases in St. Maarten, we classified it as a high-risk country,” crisis manager Pieter Glerum stated.
Currently all persons travelling from St. Maarten to Statia have to go into central quarantine. This means these persons are not allowed to go into home-based quarantine, but instead have to go into a hotel for quarantine. This policy now also includes patients who travel to St. Maarten for medical referrals, even if they were there for a day visit, and patients who have stayed in St. Maarten Medical Center.
The cost of quarantine for returning patients is covered by the government, but the cost for individual travellers to stay at a hotel for 14 days is not covered.
The public entity St. Eustatius is trying to set up wing-to-wing transfer for persons travelling via Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten to limit the exposure of incoming persons, so that home-based quarantine may be possible.
Glerum explained that this transfer system has not yet been fully arranged, but said he hoped it would be ready early this week to prevent people from having to go into central quarantine when this is not necessary and to limit these persons’ exposure to COVID-19.
The number of persons in central quarantine has increased to 60, and the island government expects this number to be consistent during this month.
Previously, the majority of persons in quarantine were returning residents and students, but in the coming period these are to be expected to be primarily essential workers.
“This implies that besides the Old Gin House hotel, which has been used as the main quarantine site for the government, other locations will be assigned as quarantine locations,” Glerum stated.
Essential workers are persons with skills that are not readily available on the island. These could be teachers, specialised construction workers, prosecutors or communication experts, who can be working for either the local government or a private business.
Workers are expected to come to Statia for a brief period of time to carry out specialised work for various projects, such as the road project, construction of the airport terminal and tower, utility company STUCO’s water and power plant and the Golden Rock resort.
These workers are expected to work under a strict protocol while they are in quarantine.
“The government will do this to support the island’s economy and to ensure that important work progresses,” said Glerum.
While still in quarantine, these essential workers can work during the day under strict regulation. For each worker there is a strict protocol that will be specific to the location and type of work.
“Workers will only be allowed in assigned areas and will be separated from other workers who might be working on the same project. The essential workers will only be allowed to drive an assigned car from the work location to the quarantine location and vice versa. We will assure that all workers on the same site are informed and we also will inspect regularly that workers under quarantine conditions adhere to the protocols,” Glerum said.
Part of this protocol will include the use of face masks and extra attention to personal hygiene. This protocol will also be made available to medical specialists visiting Statia.
The public entity may also have to ask persons who have requested entry to Statia to reschedule their plans in case the island has reached the maximum capacity of quarantine places.
In principle the maximum number of people allowed in quarantine is 45, but due to the “unexpected circumstances” in St. Maarten the number of available places has temporarily been increased to 60.
Deputy Government Commissioner Alida Francis said Statia has no intention to introduce a lockdown at this time, “as there is no reason to do that.”