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New coronavirus infections drop below 600, fewer than 500 are in hospital

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – In total, 585 new coronavirus infections were reported to the public health institute RIVM in the 24 hours to Monday morning, the lowest figure since September last year.

Monday usually has fewer positive cases than the rest of the week because of the weekend time lag in reporting. Nevertheless, this Monday’s total is still well below the 864 average over the past week.

On the basis of this figure, the Netherlands has just over three confirmed cases per 100,000 people and is almost in the green zone. Last week’s average was itself down 35% on the previous seven-day period.

Meanwhile, the number of people being treated in hospital dropped to below 500 on Monday, the national patient monitor LCPS said. Of them, 197 are being treated in an intensive care ward.

On Friday there were 218 people in an IC unit. The vaccination total has also reached around 14 million, according to the government’s coronavirus dashboard.

(DutchNews)

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Oops he did it again: king gets too close to subjects and is told off

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – King Willem-Alexander has been told off by ministers for flouting coronavirus rules during a meeting with football fans ahead of Thursday’s game against Austria.

The king was seen shaking hands and disregarding the social distancing rule when he visited ‘Oranje street’ in The Hague where a crowd has massed to greet him.

Caretaker justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus, who was himself fined for not keeping to the rules at his wedding, said that everyone, royals included, should keep to the rules, ‘no exceptions made’.

‘We do not have these rules in place for nothing,’ broadcaster NOS quoted caretaker medical care minister Tamara van Ark as saying.

‘I think that in the enthusiasm of the moment, social distancing was forgotten but it serves as a good reminder that we have to continue to keep 1.5 metres apart.’

The Hague mayor Jan van Zanten said that attempts at social distancing has been made but that the crowds had made it impossible. It’s not the first time the king is seen to ignore coronavirus rules.

In October he travelled to Greece on holiday at a time when foreign travel was not recommended. In August last year again in Greece he and queen Máxima were seen at close quarters with a local shopkeeper.

The shoe is sometimes on the other foot, however. Attending the opening ceremony of a cultural centre in Oegstgeest last month when photographers crowded around him and the queen, Willem-Alexander was heard to mumble behind his mask that clearly ‘social distancing is for others’, the AD said.

(DutchNews)

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Dutch scrap most Covid rules from June 26, holidaymakers asked to take a test on return

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands is scrapping most of its coronavirus measures from June 26, although the 1.5 metre rule remains, and face masks will still be required on public transport and in airports.

‘Looking at the figures, and at the Outbreak Management Team advice, this is a responsible decision,’ prime minister Mark Rutte told reporters at a press conference on Friday.

‘From June 26, the 1.5 metre rule remains the main measure, supported by hand washing, staying home with complaints and testing with symptoms,’ he said. ‘Everything which can be done at 1.5 metres distance is allowed and there will be no restrictions.’

This means, the prime minister said, that groups can watch football together and you can meet friends in the park – as long as you stay 1.5 metres apart. Theatres, museums and cinemas can also welcome more guests, as long as they keep their distance.

Sports clubs can host competitions again, as long as the 1.5 metre rule is adhered to before and after the match. Masks will, however, remain compulsory in secondary schools until the summer holidays.

People can also go back to the office, as long as they can keep 1.5 metres away from their colleagues and continue to spend 50% of their time at home. The events sector can start up again from June 30, to give local authorities enough time to prepare.

And in order to ditch the 1.5 metre rule, festivals and clubs can operate the ‘test for entry’ scheme, which will be free at approved locations in July and August.

Holidays

However, to prevent people bringing back the virus after a holiday abroad, the government is asking everyone to take a test when they return, and self-testing will be free for people who don’t have symptoms.

The details of how that will be administered are still being worked out, Rutte said. Youngsters returning from abroad after celebrating passing their exams can have a test at a regional health board from Monday.

‘I can’t emphasise enough that coronavirus is not gone,’ health minister Hugo de Jonge said. ‘That is why we are asking everyone who comes back to take a test.’ On August 13, the first cabinet meeting after the recess, ministers will decide if the 1.5 metre rule can be scrapped.

That, said De Jonge, depends on the vaccination rate being as high as possible and the infection rate remaining low. Nevertheless, there are several uncertainties which can change the current optimism, Rutte said.

Firstly, it remains to be seen what the vaccination rate is and if all population groups are well covered. In addition, there could be new variants. People may also bring infections back from holiday and, said Rutte, we do not yet know what the seasonal impact is.

People returning from a country considered to be high risk, such as Britain, are still required to go into mandatory quarantine and the first fines have already been handed out to people who have not followed the rules, De Jonge said. ‘The chance of getting caught is very real,’ he said.

(DutchNews)

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Police issues warning about unlawful gatherings after 11.00PM. Face fine or Arrests

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Police Force Sint Maarten KPSM and the Justice Department have received complaints over the past weeks about people gathering after 11:00pm in and around places such as gas stations and other public spaces.

These late-night gatherings are punctuated by loud music that disrupts the nightly peace and quiet.

Additionally, several videos circulating on the Internet have shown drivers misbehaving in such a manner that their lives and those of others in traffic are endangered.

To curb and end this unacceptable behavior, the Minister of Justice has issued a decree prohibiting the assembly of people after 11pm.

KPSM will enforce the ban on these unsafe and unlawful gatherings and will act on bad behavior in traffic. Anyone who do not follow the rules will find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

As police officers, we have an obligation to uphold the rules and will not hesitate to execute our duties. Law enforcement will continue to control the movement of the public in several locations across the country as per the ministerial decree and other regulations.

Anyone caught in violation of the rules will be fined or may even be subject to arrest. (KPSM)

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USM and Belair Join Forces

SINT MAARTEN (BELAIR) - The Belair Beach Hotel is proud and privileged to work along with the University of St. Martin’s (USM) work-based experience program, the USM said in a press statement on Friday.

Over the past year, we have had the opportunity to assist the USM's students with a sound work-based experience, by creating a hands-on training manual outlining the tasks that each student will have to perform in all of the departments of the hotel.

This training manual is a result of the hard work of each department head and their assistants based on previous work training programs. It is a culmination of essential information from the various departments, hands-on/real life situations and challenging tasks to ensure that the student understands the importance of excelling at the projects given to them.

The direct approach has proven to be a great guide in creating a real time experience for the students. It also gives staff members the opportunity to assist, according to their competency, in their department. The 'peer to peer' training not only helps the students to understand the industry firsthand, it also reminds the staff members of the important role that they play within the organization.

We believe that it is very important for our work-based students to experience every department as all departments are essential in ensuring that we have a fully functional hotel.

At the end of the work-based experience program, students will be able to appreciate the interconnectivity of all departments, the importance of customer service, the importance of working together as a team, communication and the work that goes into ensuring that tasks are done effectively and efficiently.

Our training incorporates 21st Century skills, which ties into the BTEC program and are essential traits of any productive employee.

Belair Beach Hotel realizes it's social corporate responsibility. We believe that if we want to have a great source of potential employees that we can select from, we must be a part of the solution. We encourage all companies to be a part of the solution by working along with the work-based experience programs as well as Internship and Research Projects at the University of St. Maarten.

The quality of students that have had the opportunity to work with has been so good that we even hired one!   It is clear that the solid educational background that is offered by the University through the accredited BTEC program from the UK and the dedication of the teachers at USM are a great combination.

If you're a business, small or large, be a part of the solution and work along with the programs. If you're sitting on the fence and wondering what to do as a career, contact the Hospitality and Business Division at the University of St. Martin.

With classes starting as early as August 16th, 2021, you too can have that diploma in your hand in as short as two years!! We encourage all high school graduates and those that are seeking a career change to take the plunge and make the small sacrifice for an entire lifetime of gain!!

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De Jonge hopes children over 12 can be vaccinated before the autumn

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Health minister Hugo de Jonge hopes all children over the age of 12 can be offered a coronavirus vaccine as soon as possible to prevent a new wave of infections in the autumn.

De Jonge said vaccinating children would help to ensure society is ‘as well protected as possible’ against the virus, particularly the spread of infections in the classroom when schools return at the end of August.

The European Medicines Agency approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 at the end of May, but so far, the Dutch health council has only authorised its use for teenagers who are at high risk because of underlying health conditions.

Other European countries, including France, have already made the vaccine available to all children over 12 on a voluntary basis. De Jonge said he would wait for the Gezondheidsraad to issue a general recommendation, meaning most over-12s will not receive their first jab until mid-August at the earliest.

A spokesman for the health council said: ‘We are conscious of the speed of the vaccination campaign, but at the same time we need to weigh up the risks and benefits carefully.’

On Thursday morning people born in 1999 were invited to book their appointment for a first coronavirus vaccine, while those born between 2000 and 2003 are expected to be added to the list by the end of the week. De Jonge had earlier pledged that all adults would be able to get their first shot by July 1.

(DutchNews)

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Hospitals returning to normal as Covid patient numbers fall below 600

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Fewer than 600 people are in hospital with Covid-19 for the first time since the last week of September, the RIVM said on Thursday.

A total of 573 patients are being treated for the disease, including 226 who are in intensive care. The figures have declined by 32 and 13 respectively since Wednesday.

The Dutch healthcare authority NVA said 83% of operating theatres were now available for regular procedures, up from 79% a week ago, while 14% of hospitals said they were now running at full capacity.

The RIVM reported 1,086 new positive tests on Thursday morning, just below the weekly average of 1,106. In the last seven days the number of confirmed cases has fallen by 36.5%.

Three more Covid-19 deaths were confirmed, equal to the average for the last seven days. A week ago, an average of seven deaths were being reported per day.

The number of vaccine doses given has passed the 13 million mark, while an estimated 26.4% of the population is now fully vaccinated.

(DutchNews)

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Have face masks had their day? They are up for discussion, minister confirms

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Face masks could disappear from parts of public life as early as next week, health minister Hugo de Jonge said after a meeting of ministers involved in combating the crisis.

Ministers will take a final decision at Friday’s cabinet meeting, ahead of a press conference during which De Jonge and prime minister Mark Rutte will explain the latest changes.

‘It could be an option,’ De Jonge told reporters. ‘But we will have to look carefully at what can be relaxed and what we need for a longer period,’ he said. Insiders told the AD that face masks are likely to remain a requirement on public transport and in busy places.

The cabinet is currently re-examining all the measures currently in force and weighing up the options to decide which can be scrapped first. ‘Things are going really well, the vaccination programme is fast, and we are seeing infection rates and hospital figures going down,’ De Jonge said.

‘That means we take the next step on Friday and prepare for new rules in a week’s time.’ Earlier this week it emerged that the cabinet wants to take step four of its five step plan to getting back to normal on June 26, not June 30 as mooted earlier.

That will involve allowing people to have eight guests at home and give restaurants and bars more capacity, among other measures. During Friday’s press conference, ministers will also give more details about the European coronavirus passport, allowing people to travel more easily between EU countries.

That is due to come into effect on July 1. Broadcaster NOS suggested on Wednesday afternoon that the home working requirement may also be lifted for people who can keep 1.5 metres distance at the office.

(DutchNews)

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Delta coronavirus variant is more widespread in NL, but experts don’t expect a surge

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Delta, or Indian, variant of coronavirus has become more common in the Netherlands but experts do not expect it to lead to a surge in cases – as has happened in Britain – because of the vaccination programme, news website Nu.nl said on Thursday.

Last week, 0.5% of the 1,148 coronavirus samples examined by public health agency RIVM proved to be the Delta variant of the virus, but this week, that had risen to 1.1% of the 610 samples which have been analysed so far.

RIVM experts told Nu.nl that the increase shows that the virus is more infectious than the original type and that it’s prevalence may now increase in the Netherlands.

Nevertheless, this unlikely to happen at the same speed as in the UK, the RIVM said, because the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are dominant here, and would appear to offer better protection after a single dose.

Britain has focused on the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Delta variant now accounts for over 90% of British cases. The Delta variant may spread more quickly once the summer holiday season gets underway, as tourists from the Netherlands meet British visitors abroad, Nu.nl said.

Figures from the RIVM do show that more people are thought to have picked up coronavirus abroad and almost 6% of all positive tests in the past week involve people who have recently travelled out of the country.

Some seven flights a week arrive in the Netherlands from India now that the ban on air travel has been lifted and replaced by mandatory quarantine. Visitors to Britain also have to go into mandatory quarantine on their return.

(DutchNews)

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Corona numbers decline, spike in cases linked to Spain and Portugal trips

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Fewer than 10,000 coronavirus cases were reported by the public health agency RIVM in the last week for the first time since mid-September.

The latest weekly report shows infections were down by 37.6%, the second week in a row that the number has fallen by more than 30%. In total there were 8981 confirmed cases, while 5.3% of all tests were positive compared to 7.2% a week ago.

The latest calculation of the R number is 0.78 on May 31, meaning every 100 infected people transmitted the virus to 78 others. The infection rate fell to 53 per 100,000 people per week, with more than half of all cases in people under 30.

The smallest decline was among teenagers aged 15 to 19, where cases were down by 8.2%. The same age group had the highest weekly infection rate of 141 per 100,000.

The RIVM urged young people returning from post-exam trips to book tests even if they had no symptoms, after a spate of infections in people who have recently travelled to Spain and Portugal.

‘In the past week we have seen an increase in young people testing positive for coronavirus after a holiday abroad,’ said a spokesman. Visitors to the Iberian peninsula accounted for 63% of the 514 cases where people had travelled abroad in the previous 14 days and 3.6% of all infections last week.

Portugal and the Spanish islands are classed as yellow risk by the Dutch foreign ministry, meaning people returning from those countries are not required to show a negative test before they fly home or quarantine on their return.

Mainland Spain is code orange.

The number of people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 fell by 44% in the last seven days from 414 to 232, while intensive care admissions declined from 53 to 43. Another 21 deaths were recorded compared to 63 in the previous week.

Around the 25 safety board regions the infection rate ranged from 27.5 per 100,000 in Groningen to 77.3 in Gelderland-Zuid. Five regions have an infection rate of 35 or less, which is the upper limit for level 1 on the government’s four-stage risk scale.

(DutchNews)

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