Travellers to St. Maarten must submit an online health authorisation request

Travellers to St. Maarten must submit  an online health authorisation request

PHILIPSBURG--The Ministry of Health recently launched a website to streamline the process for visitors coming to St. Maarten to submit a mandatory health authorisation application.

  “Travelers to St. Maarten must submit a health authorisation request via before being granted entry into St. Maarten,” confirmed Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Richard Panneflek in a press release on Thursday.

  The website gives travellers access to an Electronic Health Authorization System (EHAS) where they can fill in a form in advance requesting permission to travel to St. Maarten.

  Along with the mandatory application, the site also posts updated travel requirements as stipulated by the government of St. Maarten through the Ministry of Health. Visitors must have health insurance coverage and travel insurance covering COVID-19. Since the online application process began, more than 340 have made use of it.

  While most complied with the requirements, a few did not and were denied entry to St. Maarten for failing to meet the specified requirements. Airport controls and testing are also being done, and the website shows what countries St. Maarten considers to be high-risk, moderate-risk or low-risk transmission countries.

  Travelers coming to St. Maarten from a low-risk country such as Anguilla, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saba, St. Barths, St. Martin and St. Eustatius will be exempted from the mandatory RT-PCR test. “While we have indicated some countries as low-risk countries, this information is constantly being reviewed and may be subject to change if the situation in those countries changes,” said Panneflek.

  He also said that travellers from low-risk countries will still be screened, which includes a questionnaire and temperature check before they are allowed entry.

  The updated requirements posted on the website also indicate that “other tests such as antibody tests or antigen tests and tests performed outside of these 72 hours will not be accepted.” It also states that the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test methods with an Emergency Use Only Authorization (EUA) approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will not be accepted.

  “Travelers who reside in a low-risk country but have visited a moderate- or high-risk country in the 14 days before departing to St. Maarten must also have an RT-PCR test for the SARS-COV-2 virus performed within 72 hours,” said the release.

  Additional requirements include a RT-PCR test using only the nasopharyngeal swab procedure, the collection of a clinical test sample of nasal secretions from the back of the nose and throat. The test must have been conducted no more than 72 hours before departure.

  These measures are part of St. Maarten’s efforts to protect its citizens and visitors as the world continues to fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic. Travel applicants receive a response via e-mail indicating whether their EHAS application is approved or denied. If the request is approved, the e-mail will contain a printable authorisation which must be presented to the health and immigration authorities on arrival.

  The RT-PCR test result should be presented to the health authorities on request.

  Persons who suffer from flu-like symptoms and/or have a fever will be denied entry.

  The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which supports the global aviation industry through the establishment of policies on airline safety, security, efficiency and sustainability, has also accepted St. Maarten’s EHAS form and general visitor acceptance requirements. The measures are consistent with international airport standards for travel in the COVID-19 global pandemic.

  The Ministry of Health has also indicated that original test results must be uploaded on site and must specify the name of the lab where the test was conducted, the name of the person tested, and the date and type of test administered. The method of obtaining the test sample must also be explained, and travellers are advised that typed, written, or e-mail statements from doctors or non-laboratories will not be accepted.

  Panneflek said there are also specific requirements for crew members of airlines, both private and commercial. “Airline and private flight crews with stopovers in St. Maarten or St. Martin are exempted from the health authorisation procedure, but must demonstrate a valid (performed within 72 hours of departure to St. Maarten) negative RT-PCR test. Crew members not in possession of a valid negative RT-PCR test must self-quarantine until their departure flight.”

  Daily alerts will be sent to visitors’ e-mail addresses, as the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) will be monitoring each visitor’s health condition during their stay. The use of the website is also being promoted by the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) to its global travel partners.

  Additionally, six core measures have been developed within the hospitality sector to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the island, including physical distancing with proper floor markings, mandatory face-mask usage, social distancing of two metres, proper self-sanitisation procedure, the appropriate procedure for cleaning surfaces, a stay-at-home-when-sick policy, and digital menus and messages.

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