SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Silveria Jacobs issued an update on Sunday evening as it concerns the latest developments and the Government’s COVID-19 containment, mitigation and response measures.
CPS social media production
I know you have just enjoyed a very good production that was just held by CPS. I know you will look forward to hearing from our medical professionals in the future, as this will be a weekly feature. I hereby congratulate them at this moment for an exceptional job thus far.
We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased and wish each and every person dealing with a COVID-19 death, as well as a regular death, much strength during these trying times, as you’re not able to comfort each other as is usual.
Based on the latest available data, the counts for April 25, as of 4:00 PM are as follows:
- Self-Quarantine: 127
- Self-Isolation: 103
- Number Hospitalized: 7
- Number Tested: 295
- Number Positive: 74
- Male: 52
- Female: 22
- Number Negative: 211
- Number Pending: 9
- Inconclusive: 1
- Deceased: 13
- Recovered: 33
- Active Case: 28
My Cabinet staff will publish pie graphs demonstrating the total numbers of positive cases, amount deceased, recovered, tested, as well as the current active cases. The majority of these cases have been negative and I believe that bodes well. We should also pay attention to our positive numbers. In this way, we can see that what we are doing now to flatten the curve is actually working. Of the seven persons, currently in the St. Maarten Medical Centre, three are in the hospital, while three are in the medium care pavilion and one is in intensive care in the ICU tent.
We wish all persons still struggling with the COVID-19 virus much strength and we continue to work together with our doctors and CPS to ensure that the number will flatten and slowly start to go down. We have been assessing our data on a daily basis, and hopefully by next week, we will be able to give you a better overview of what has been happening as it relates to our COVID-19 patients. Those in isolation, quarantine as well as those who are being monitored very carefully by our medical personnel.
We have had several meetings over the past week with ESF 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10 coordinators, together with the Ministers and their respective teams. We have been strategically discussing the next steps forward based on our plans and we have decided on the following in or EOC meeting of yesterday, April 24, 2020.
Relaxation of measures
It was determined that we should make the necessary changes to the ‘State of Emergency’ in order to further relax the safety and security measures currently in place, still allowing for three days of shopping despite it being a holiday week. The relaxed measures will ensure that some economic activity will still take place. These measures will also maintain the necessary safety measures to continue to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus as CPS goes about their day-to-day assessment within our community.
The main considerations concerning the relaxed measures, which allows for more businesses to be able to offer their services, will allow us to take a step closer to our new normal and maintain the necessary safety measures. The first priority, being the health perspective and flattening the curve, the second, being law enforcement and reducing civil unrest, and the third, being Economic Affairs, thereby mitigating further economic decline.
This week scheduled business openings
Due to the upcoming public holidays, the new essential business list schedule will allow for the general public to shop on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Monday and Friday, are holidays and as such, the general public will be allowed to make use of their right to do necessary grocery shopping, going to the pharmacies or visiting other essential businesses as listed in the addendum to the Ministerial Regulation on these particular days. Deliveries will also be increased. Therefore, more businesses are allowed to do deliveries this coming week onwards.
This one-week deviation was to ensure that our public still had three days to make use of necessities on the following week. The Monday, Wednesday, and Friday structure will resume after. Additionally, the general public will have access to more business services such as GEBE, TelEm and UTS to be able to pay their bills.
Tenants under the care of the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation will also be able to carry-out their urgent and necessary errands on the three days that persons are allowed to make use of the public roads. Therefore, that is this week Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and thereafter, we will be back to the Monday, Wednesday, Friday, arrangement until the regulation has been lifted.
Another new addition to the Ministerial Regulation is the option for the general public to make use of optician services as of next week. Additionally, on the three days, several persons have mentioned that they need to make use of the optician services in order to get their glasses renewed and as such, next week Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and thereafter, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you will be able to leave your homes once you’re out doing your shopping,
Maintenance and repair services
Persons may arrange appointments to have maintenance and repair personnel come to their homes to do the necessary repairs and maintenance on the given days as well. Persons may also make use of insurance, notarial, legal services, and veterinary services by appointment only on the above-mentioned days that the public is allowed to make use of the roads. Those in need of these services are asked to stay within your own district as much as and to respect the zones as has been determined by National Decree. Namely, east of the Cole Bay hill (Zone A) and West of the Cole Bay hill (Zone B). We have asked all the banks, GEBE and TelEm to ensure that both branches on either side of the hill are open to minimize the amount of movement across the both sides.
Persons will also be able to get their packages ordered online as the courier’s will be allowed to deliver in the coming week. All these businesses may offer their services through delivery only. You are not allowed to go to their location of business to pick up your package. Last week, we already allowed for home delivery for baby and maternity stores, hardware stores and electronic stores as well as IT sales. This arrangement will also continue.
By appointment only
Medical practitioners, laboratories and dental clinics are open to the public by appointment only all days of the week according to their schedules. This was already allowed last week; therefore, this will remain in effect. You do not need a personal waiver for these matters, as you just need some form of proof for your appointment with your doctor. Once your doctor issues you a letter to go to the lab or to the pharmacy, then that would serve as your proof of appointment in case you are stopped on the days when the curfew is in full effect for 24 hours. Moreover, construction projects are still only allowed for the COVID-19 related projects, as well as a police station, as these are emergency services in need of dire repair for their proper functioning during this COVID-19 period. The restaurants that have arrangements with essential Services may also continue to do so.
Unfortunately, I am not going to allow other restaurants to open in the meantime until we can ensure that we have flattened the curve. All safety measures apply to all businesses allowed to be open for the three days. Therefore, you must ensure that your staff is healthy. Ensure that no one reporting to work has no flu-like symptoms, ensure good hygiene and sanitation protocols are in place. If you do not, you will most definitely be shut down.
Persons venturing out on the public roads during these times are asked to only do so on a needs basis. Do not go out there just for sightseeing. This complaint has also come forward. Please stay at home for your own health. Only one person per family is allowed to go out and stand in line to do any type of shopping remembering to maintain a 2 meters distance from other customers. We are totally against any groupings of persons standing in line.
In cars, there should be no more than two persons. I ask that you wear protective gear as many are being homemade and they’re using filters to ensure that the cloth masks are effective. Many companies are selling mask out there, therefore, ensure that you get yours. I ask that you refrain from hugging, kissing and shaking hands when you are out in public. These are strictly forbidden, as they will most definitely cause the spread of the virus.
There should be clearly defined markings outside and inside of all locations including at cash registers, 1.5 to 2 meters between clients, as well as in the back of the cash registers. Clearly marked arrows should be visible in all aisles ensuring one-directional traffic as well as ensuring proper social distancing inside and outside the stores. All staff must be free of flu-like symptoms and must wear protective gear. These places of business are to provide sanitizing spray or hand sanitizers for their customers entering the establishment. Proper sanitization of baskets and shopping carts are also a must and proper crowd control must be in place. Therefore, you must have a security guard or a community leader and ensure that no groupings larger than what your store can hold is allowed inside.
All businesses must ensure that they can put out a good and efficient delivery system in order to keep the population satisfied. On days, when you are not allowed to visit the stores, they are allowed to make deliveries. Many stores have been doing that and I commend you for doing so and keeping our population as safe as possible.
I’ve also taken note that due to the situation in Curacao, where medical personnel brought in to assist were noted to have been COVID- 19 positive, I would like to reiterate that when our medical and technical assistance arrived, we ensured that were tested prior to arrival and upon arrival. These persons also had to maintain a two-week quarantine here on St. Maarten before going into society. While working they must wear protective gear at all times in case they do start to show symptoms at a later time.
Our marines and police officers that have come in have been tested and will continue to be tested as long as they are going to be active in our society. We will not put our people at risk when we are looking for assistance and I must say that the Dutch Marines were in quarantine for two weeks before getting on the ship and they have been at sea for about a week. They will continue to remain on the ship until we can ascertain that they have been tested and are safe to enter our community.
As we near the end of today’s announcement, I would like to tell the people of St. Maarten that we are not working in an ad hoc manner. We have very strict plans in place, but we continue to assess the delivery of these plans and how it is actually working in the community, and as such, we are adjusting and ensuring that people can receive what we plan for them to get in the time that it is allotted.
Plan B, C and D
Of course, every good plan must have a Plan B, C and D, and therefore, as we are just moving along and we see that the curve is actually flattening, we can then have a release of more and more services. This way the persons on St. Maarten can feel that we are in a sense of normalcy. I must say that many people are using this time to find new ways to earn funds and find new ways to become productive while remaining at home.
We are actively looking at ways to ensure that some students who have not yet been able to make up online classes would be able to do so. We’re actively seeking funds, as well as ensuring that every child will be able to understand and learn, even in this COVID-19 reality. E-government and E-education was always on my vision board, but COVID-19 gives us the unique opportunity to be able to enforce it right away. No longer can we say that we don’t have enough money for this or we don’t have enough money for that. We must find the money, and with COVID-19 money being available out there in the community and in the international world we will use every opportunity afforded to us to be able to ensure that every child gets the necessary education even while they are at home. Therefore, we are looking at ways to get devices as well as Internet connection to all our students.
There are EU funds available, however, you must have your project ready to go. They are not going to give the money directly to the government of St. Maarten. Therefore, we have to identify organizations that are ready to go to execute hard work in order to get those funds moving on St. Maarten.
This is an opportunity people of St. Maarten. Let’s make use of it. St. Maarten was not up to par as it pertains to being online, paying bills online, ordering food or materials online. We know how to order from Amazon etc. however, here is your opportunity to offer the general public of St. Maarten products made in St. Maarten. Start your own online business.
You start realizing your dreams. It is about time that the people of St. Maarten realizes the strength that lies within them. Realize the strength that lies within you to find your dream. Think of a way of making online business work for you. Let us see how inventive you can be. Even our own local University can do better in offering more online classes and I’m willing to sit with each and every one who has great ideas about that. I know many great ideas exist within our community and together we can solve the problems that the world is facing.
As a matter of fact, we will be trendsetters by showing how after this COVID-19, we bounce back better. We bounce back smarter. We bounce back, more efficient and able to handle our business. So, let us put all our hands-on deck, improve our own lives, thereby, improving St. Maarten as a whole.
When we are ready to open St. Maarten, people will say, “Wow! St. Maarten has worked hard, despite the difficulties faced, despite having persons showing up at the hospital undocumented and unregistered by CPS.”
We are still doing our best and making sure that everybody is informed. Information is power! Ensure that you are informed. Ensure that your neighbors are informed and make sure that we are all executing a high level of social distancing and personal hygiene, as well as when we go out so that we do not infect others if we may be positive ourselves and do not know it.
If you feel any symptoms whatsoever, get tested. By getting tested, we can get you healed, recovered and back in society. That is what we want because around the world, COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere. It is going down and going up, but on our tiny island, while we have the opportunity, let us kick it in the butt and send it on its way. We can do this people, we can do this!
I wish each and everyone of us a blessed weekend and remember, stay strong, stay faithful; we are blessed.