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COM Agree to Cease Border Controls for St. Maarten as of Sunday

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – After deliberation in the Council of Ministers' (COM) meeting on Friday, May 15, 2020, it was decided that based on the efforts of the government to properly contain the virus, leading to a decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases on the both sides, as well as the bonds that exist between the people, it is no longer necessary to maintain the border controls and restrictions of movement between the two sides.

Oyster Pond Border Closure to be Removed Sunday 

As of Sunday morning, which is a non-movement day, the Dutch Police Force will no longer control the internal borders of St. Maarten. The container which was placed by our police force at the Oyster Pond border to minimize the number of borders requiring control, will also be removed on Sunday.

The police force will be refocusing its energy on de-escalation measures, and on ensuring that safety and security is maintained during this process as businesses re-open in phase 2 on Monday morning. Prime Minister Jacobs informed that the police force will continue to maintain the night curfew which will be from 9:00 PM to 6:00 AM as of Monday evening.

“Just as before the ‘State of Emergency,’ the Dutch side of the island will no longer require waivers. As one small 37 square mile island, we have tried our utmost to synchronize measures with our northern counterparts to protect the population from the spread of this virus, at times causing some stress to our citizens with family and economic ties on both sides.

“We see no need for this any longer as the COVID-19 cases are well under control, and it is time to normalize even further. As our businesses reopen, more persons will need to access their business, or place of work, making this extra task unreasonable.” stated Prime Minister Jacobs.

Collective Prevention Services (CPS) community outreach testing campaign will continue this weekend and next weekend, however, during the week, normal movement is allowed to allow persons the opportunity to earn a living and get our economy restarted while upholding the guidelines for safety of employees and clients.

After discussions with our French counterparts on Saturday morning, where they were updated of the decision of the Council of Ministers, it has been confirmed by Madame la Prefet Feucher that the French gendarmes will maintain the controls as they require additional time to evaluate whether their containment efforts via community testing have been successful. As this is the case, our French counterparts will continue to require waivers to allow movement to French Saint-Martin.

“In discussions with President Gibbs and the Collectivite, I have been informed by President Gibbs that he has contacted the Minister of Overseas Territories Annick Girardin and has advised her to also lift the border controls due to the decision taken by the Council of Ministers of St. Maarten in an effort to synchronize the measures on both sides of the island as border control is a competency of the state.

Our population is much more aware of the dangers of the virus and will continue to practice the guidelines to be out in public; wearing a mask at all times, keeping a social distance of 2 meters and practicing proper hand hygiene frequently in order to avoid a second wave. Our behaviour will determine the success of our de-escalation of measures.

There are times, unfortunately, when our different systems cannot synchronize, as such we will continue to meet and discuss best practices moving forward and do our best to foster cooperation as we de-escalate measures and continue to fight the spread of COVID-19.” concluded Prime Minister Jacobs.

Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs Minister of VROMI Egbert Doran and Minister of Justice Anna Richardson

L to R: Deputy Prime Minister Egbert Doran, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and Minister of Justice Ana Richardson. 

 

 

 

 

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10 Persons arrested for Violating Curfew

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In implementing the first Phase of the police action plan, which includes maintaining public order during the set curfew hours and deterring car thefts and burglaries, the police detained ten (10) persons on the night of 15 May 2020, police said in a statement on Saturday night.

Most of the suspects arrested were in connection with violating the curfew. They were brought to the police station in Philipsburg and held overnight for questioning. After being questioned, they were given a heavy fine and released.

The police force of Sint Maarten again would like to make it clear to some members of the community, that we are taking a zero-tolerance approach to persons, who insist on disregarding the curfew laws. (KPSM)

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French and Dutch Tourist offices launch joint inspirational destination video

SINT MAARTEN/SAINT-MARTIN - The St. Martin Tourism Office together with the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau jointly launched launched a destination video that captures beautiful shots of the destination, showcasing the dynamic and multicultural essence of the island. A special poem written by Ms. Ruby Bute was also incorporated in the video, which highlighted the beauty of the island, and placed emphasis on the current situation in a way that is artistic, hopeful and inspirational. With this video, both tourism offices aim to inspire travelers to continue dreaming of the destination while travel restrictions are still in effect.

The video has officially been launched locally and internationally and can be seen on both tourism offices official destination Facebook and Instagram pages under the usernames @DiscoverSaintMartin and @VacationStMaarten.

“This inspirational video not only showcases the beauty of our island, but also the talent of our own local artist, Ms. Ruby Bute, who wrote a heartfelt poem on video. It is crucial to keep viewers inspired and informed so that the destination can remain top of mind. In the crowded marketplace where many other competing destinations are vying for the attention of the traveler, the island should remain on the forefront and continue to disseminate captivating content. We encourage everyone to view the video on our social pages and feel free to share it amongst your friends and family.” said Aida Weimun, Director of the St. Martin Tourist Office.

“It is important to inspire and offer a visually appealing experience that resonates with the viewer, and this video not only captures the beauty of the island, but also offers a sense of hope, that emotionally engages with the viewer. We want to increase the awareness of the destination so that people may be reminded of our destination. This video is one of the many steps towards increasing the destination brand awareness, but also to re-establish our position as one of the leading destinations in the Caribbean.” said May-Ling Chun, Director of Tourism at the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau.

With certain countries re-opening their borders, travelers are already searching vacation options. Based on industry reports, travelers will primarily seek safe destinations that offers many leisure activities amongst relaxation. Keeping visitors inspired and informed will remain a top priority for both tourism offices, alongside with ensuring that the necessary protocols and guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are in place prior to re-opening the borders.

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Raymond Gradus reappointed as Cft chairman

SINT MAARTEN/THE HAGUE - As per July 1st, 2020 prof. dr. Raymond Gradus will be reappointed for a three-year term as chairman of the Board of financial supervision Curaçao and Sint Maarten, the Board of financial supervision Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba and the Board of financial supervision Aruba. 

Prof. dr. Gradus is chairman of the three Boards as of July 1st, 2017. The reappointment of Mr. Gradus has been discussed in the Kingdom Council of Ministers of May 15th. The reappointment shall take place by Royal Decree.

Prof. dr. Raymond Gradus is professor in governance and economics of the public and nonprofit sector at the VU University Amsterdam. Besides he is affiliated with the accounting department and the Zijlstra Center for Public Control, Leadership and Governance. He has moreover several scientific publications to his name, amongst others about social security, fellow governments, environmental policy and market mechanisms.

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Be The Change Foundation announces Philipsburg mural project

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Be The Change Foundation (BTC) is looking for artists residing on Sint Maarten & Saint Martin who would like to be part of their ‘Color Me SXM – Philipsburg Art Walk’ mural project.

The idea is simple: create 10 photo-friendly murals to beautify Philipsburg and showcase the islands’ artists. The project, written by Laura Bijnsdorp, who will also be executing the project, is inspired by the artwork found in various districts of Curacao. The project also includes the distribution of a self-guided map, videos, dedicated Instagram account, and a webpage to further market the creative talent on the island – and encourage everyone to explore Philipsburg.

“We hope that this project brings a bit of positive news to our island while we are facing this health crisis. Thanks to our sponsors, partners, and participating artists we aim to bring some uplifting colors to Philipsburg.” says Melanie Choisy, President of BTC Foundation.

The Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunications (TEATT), the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports (MECYS), and the Prins Bernhard Cultuur Fonds (PBCF) are the main sponsors – and will be supporting BTC throughout the execution of the project. Sherwin Williams has also committed their expertise and resources to help complete the murals.

“I was excited to hear about this mural project. Hand-painted murals have experienced a revival in recent years and are shared globally via social media in recognition of the artists' vibrant colors or statements. I would love to see this project celebrate and incorporate our local legends and heroes while reflecting the interpretation of Caribbean island life through the artists' eyes. The finished work will surely be an inspiration to all,” said Honourable Ms. Ludmila de Weever, Minister of TEATT.

“As Minister of MECYS, I am proud to announce MECYS as a co-sponsor (through the Department of Culture) of this project that highlights our Sint Maarten expressive culture and art and helps to protect and honor our Sint Maarten heritage.

At the same time, this project puts emphasis on the pivotal role of the artist and the creative industry in the evolution of our tourism product, economy, and society. As such, this project is the almost perfect expression of our desire for sustainable development of Sint Maarten, for Sint Maarten, and by Sint Maarten. I wish the Be The Change Foundation, Melanie Choisy and Laura Bijnsdorp, much success in carrying out this project and look forward to do the Philipsburg Art Walk,” commented Drs. Rodolphe Samuel, Minister of MECYS.

BTC would also like to thank all property owners in Philipsburg who have committed walls to the project thus far. Although a number of walls have been identified for the project, the foundation is open to suggestions by property owners who have a wall that they deem fit for a mural.

Artist Information
Artists (all ages) who would like to participate in this project are requested to send their design or sketch for the mural and a short bio about themselves to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before Monday, June 1, 2020. Artists will be informed if their design is selected by June 5, 2020.

All artists will receive $600 in payment for the making of the mural. In addition the material costs such as paint, brushes etc, will be covered. BTC would also appreciate an estimate of costs (budget) alongside your mural-design.

Artists residing locally or with strong ties to Sint Maarten, will have preference in the selection process. The selected artists will be expected to complete their murals by June 30, 2020 (subject to change depending on current COVID-19 restrictions).

Mural design requirements:
- Must be ‘Instagram/photo’ friendly.

- Get as creative as you’d like! Think outside the box.
- There will be 4 spots ‘reserved’ for historically and/or culturally relevant (to Sint Maarten) murals.
- Final murals must be at least 2m x 3m large.
- Artists will be asked to make adjustments to their design according to the wall they are assigned to, as the walls differ in length and width.

- BTC Foundation will select the placement (on a wall) of the mural.

- Mural must be treated with a protective coating by artist (provided by BTC).

- Must be able to complete the mural between June 5 and June 30, 2020.

Choisy: “I hope that artists will take this opportunity to be inspired by the initiative and help us spread a message of hope, art, and culture, especially during this difficult time.”

For more information or those interested in collaborating on this project email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or go to www.facebook.com/bethechangesxm

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Unions submit counter proposal to Government to save more than Naf.100 million

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Union presented its counter proposal to the Government of St. Maarten, via the Committee of Civil Servants Union on Thursday May 14, 2020, by email, the five unions the Windward Islands Civil Servants Union – W.I.C.S.U., the Windward Islands Chamber of Labor Union- W.I.C.L.U., Windward Island Teachers Union – W.I.T.U., Nederlands Antilliaanse Politie Bond -N.A.P. B., and the Algemene Bond van Overheidspersoneel - A.B.V.O. said in a statement on Friday.

“Our counter proposal presented a list of measures that will not affect the salaries and vacation allowance of civil servants. Instead it focuses on other areas by which Government can reduce its expenditure and save money.

“Some examples are: cutting the travel costs of Government, cutting consultancy fees, freezing trainings, reducing gas vouchers and use of Government vehicles, encourage Ministers to purchase gas from their own salaries instead of using gas vouchers, reduce the transitional allowance of Ministers and Members of Parliament from 2 years to 3 months, freeze monthly credit cards of Ministers until the end of 2020, place all civil servants, who were Ministers or Parliamentarians, back in their function before June 16, 2020, without the transition allowance, reduce the salaries, stipends and allowances of top positions, committee members on boards, across all Government owned companies or agencies, freeze the election budget for the next 3 years, etc. 

“These proposed cost cutting measures will save Government more than Naf. 100,000,000 (one hundred million).  Which is much more than the Naf.10,000,000 (ten million) the honorable Minister of Finance projects to save with cost cutting measures on civil servants’ wages.    

“The unions recognize that no one is responsible for the emergence and disastrous effects of the unprecedented COVID 19 virus to St. Maarten’s economy, healthcare system, labor market and society on a whole.  As workers representatives, the Union is always ready and willing to collaborate with our social partners in this case, the esteemed Government of St. Maarten to successfully navigate through the far-reaching consequences of the social and economic impact of Covid 19.      

“The Unions, however, would be remiss if it did not point out its grave concerns regarding Government’s unsavory and ad hoc approach in presenting, the proposed cost cutting measures in the public sector, to the Unions.    

“The first meeting in question did not comply with the conditions and procedures as laid down in article 112 of the LMA which stipulates in no uncertain terms that Government is required to submit a request for approval from the Committee of Civil Servants Union, especially when it pertains to making any changes that will directly impact their legal position and rights as civil servants.

“Said advice must be accompanied and presented with supporting documents to be reviewed by the Committee of Civil Servants Union. It has been said on many occasions that St. Maarten is a nation of laws and said laws are still valid even in a crisis or pandemic. 

“Therefore, given the rush to fast track a host of measures that will in no uncertain way directly impact civil servants, it stands to reason whether or not, the unions were expected to circumvent and deviate from rules and laws governing this very important process.

“Please know that during the meeting of Wednesday May 14, 2020, the Council of Ministers were asked to submit all relevant and supporting information as is customary, in order for the members/unions to make a sound and evidenced decision based on facts. The Members are yet to receive such documentation.

“Nonetheless the Members submitted their counter proposal that would save Government more than the Naf. 10,000,000 the Minister of Finance is looking to save by cutting civil servant salaries and vacation allowances, bonuses, etc.,” the unions statement concludes.

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MP Heyliger-Marten not impressed by airport's response to Parliament

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) — Faction Leader of the United People (UP) party Member of Parliament (MP) Grisha Heyliger-Marten on Tuesday said she was unimpressed with answers given to Parliament by airport CEO Brian Mingo regarding Princess Juliana International Airport's financial situation, its reconstruction post-Irma, and the resignation of the Airport CFO.

She said Mingo’s answers to various questions posed by MP’s in the Parliament meeting held this past Tuesday, showed a lack of interest and at times no sense of urgency when it came to the agenda point up for discussion. “We are discussing St. Maarten’s premier port of entry and the CEO came over as completely unprepared to Parliament,” Heyliger-Marten said.

The MP said that Mingo’s dismissive tone of serious concerns expressed by MP’s along with lack of progress at the airport since he took office almost two years ago, raises questions of his competence to manage on this level. “To attend a Parliament meeting as unprepared as he was unfortunately is an indication that the CEO might not take his role of being accountable to the people seriously. At some point, you have to put on your big boy pants and level-up. These are crucial times for our country,” Heyliger-Marten said.

The MP stressed to Mingo that he, and by extension the airport management, must realize that it has to give an account to Parliament and the People of St. Maarten for what is happening there, adding that both businesses and residents who depend on the Airport as the gateway for the Tourism Economy, "must feel confident in the management and direction of the Airport."

In this context, Heyliger-Marten pointed out that her faction has many areas of concern and priority that she will expect to get clear answers on in the next Parliament meeting on this subject. First and foremost, she said, is when the actual work to restore PJIA to its award-winning glory will start.

"If the Airport does not stop dragging its feet on the reconstruction, the Management and Board will be held accountable for their failure to deliver for the people of St. Maarten. PJIA must commence and complete reconstruction post-haste to give the island a fighting chance of economic recovery in the aftermath of the devastation from COVID-19. It’s always a different date with different and unclear reasons. We must have clarity about the start of reconstruction,” she said.

Additionally, the MP stressed, the reconstruction of the airport must include local contractors, taking a page from her husband’s unwritten policy of ensuring that local contractors, big, medium and especially small, are active participants in the construction of their country.

“It is also clear to me that the Airport does not believe in the ability of St. Maarten people to deliver quality work and seems to believe that qualified workers must come from Holland,” she said, explaining that the Airport's presentation to Parliament included information on Contractors selected from The Netherlands to do work locally.

“So will St. Maarten contractors have to audition for the Netherlands Contractors to see if maybe they would get a small job,” she asked? Shouldn’t their involvement in their company be a pre-requisite? This frustrates me as a local politician to see that a local Government-Owned Company is bypassing local contractors to hire elsewhere," said Heyliger-Marten. “I want to make it absolutely clear, the airport must understand that the local contractors have to be put to work on rebuilding the airport."

Another area needing urgent attention, according to Heyliger-Marten is the Airport's Fuel Farm. While the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and the local Aviation Authority have declared the present fuel farm a "safety hazard" Heyliger-Marten says she finds it "utterly disturbing" that the Airport does not see its replacement as a priority.

"A solution for this fuel farm has been in place since 2014 following the 2013 Resolution of the Supervisory Board of Directors for PJIAE/CoA/mac/14-25. Her concern is that St. Maarten has suffered significant losses in three years caused by hurricanes, and the Coronavirus and we should not create more problems,” she said.

"Do we want to wait until something disastrous happens with the fuel farm at the Airport? Because if that happens not only will we risk the airport being labelled as unsafe but also there is serious potential for harming people who work there. The airport keeps spending money by the millions with little to show for it, the Fuel Farm upgrade has no cost to the Airport. "If they are so sure that there is nothing wrong with the fuel farm and it's not urgent, then let the airport publish the ICAO report."

US Pre-Clearance according to MP Heyliger-Marten is also a crucial step to take in the overall reconstruction of the airport. She said this is so the island can offer attractive options to international carriers as competition for visitor arrival in the region would be significant. US Pre-Clearance is the most viable long term competitive advantage St. Maarten can have, particularly over neighbouring islands who continue to expand their plans for airlift.

In her press release, Heyliger-Marten reiterated sentiments expressed a day before in Parliament saying she intends to keep a watchful eye on its progress. “I want the Airport to know that I will be keeping a watchful eye on the Board and Management to see that they do not stagnate projects. The priority for the Airport must be full reconstruction with our people involved, rebuilding the Fuel Farm and US Pre-Clearance along with carefully thought out cost-cutting measures in keeping with the current economic trends.”

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Minister of Justice meets with correctional officers

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Justice Minister Anna E. Richardson met with Correctional Officers and Management of the Prison and House of Detention in Point Blanche on Wednesday May 13, the cabinet of the minister stated in a press release on Thursday.

The meeting, requested by Correctional Officers, served as an opportunity for them to express challenges and grievances that they have been faced with at the various detention centers.

Since her appointment, the Minister and her support staff have been diligently working to address a number of challenges within the Ministry of Justice, with the detention centers and their staff well-being being a high priority.

After hearing their concerns, the Minister reassured the officers that she is actively dedicated to coming up with concrete, long-term solutions for the problems that affect the employees on a daily basis, including the facilities being severely understaffed, poor working conditions and other issues that have struggled to be tended to due to instability in the past.

In the coming days, the Minister will be meeting with other Departments’ employees as well.

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Rotary Sunset Joins Efforts to Combat Covid-19 Pandemic

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset joined in the ongoing effort to combat the further spread of the Novel Coronavirus by providing much needed Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for the frontline workers carrying out the community outreach program organized by Collective Prevention Services (CPS).

In the wake of the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak, Rotary clubs worldwide are responding to the impact of the global pandemic by providing comfort and hope to those on the front line as well as those fighting against the deadly novel coronavirus. Rotary clubs around the world are working with local governments to provide food, medical equipment, masks, sanitizers and many more items as needed.

Disease prevention and awareness is one of Rotary’s Key areas of focus and Rotary has been praised for their ongoing efforts in the fight to eradicate Polio. With this novel coronavirus, Rotary maintains its position as one of the leading organizations in the fight to combat this deadly virus, with millions of dollars spent thus far globally in combating the deadly virus.

“Earlier in February, our club distributed free hand sanitizers to promote proper hygiene and sanitation well ahead of the coronavirus outbreak on St. Maarten and we continue to support the ongoing efforts to combat further spread throughout our community by providing additional PPE gears to protect our front line workers during their community outreach program. Members of our club have even joined in the efforts to slow the spread on St. Maarten by taking part in the community outreach program. It is our pleasure to be able to provide assistance and do our part in combating this virus and we will continue to assess the needs of our community to be better able to assist where we can” –President Jaida Nisbett

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset would like to extend its heartfelt gratitude to the Department of Health and CPS for grating us the opportunity to serve our community and to join efforts to fight this virus. The club would also like to encourage the people of St. Maarten to remain steadfast and resilient while we get through these difficult times.

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SHTA Launches Reopening Guidelines

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) launched a compact set of guidelines for various industries yesterday how to deal with reopening after COVID19. The guideline set includes links to accredited sources for further in-depth design of reopening plans per company.

The document is a summary of the most important best practices launched by international and regional institutions, with an eye on feasibility for Sint Maarten. Information from institutes worldwide as well as SHTA’s networks of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), various regional and international standards have been assessed and judged on relevance and applicability for Sint Maarten. SHTA obtained input from its own member sections like small, medium and large hoteliers to supermarkets, service companies, retailers, fellow business associations and restaurants.

SHTA sent the resulting guidelines to the Ministry of TEATT and various other relevant organizations domestic and foreign, as to contribute as input for devising national and regional suggested protocols. In addition, by providing clarity on private sector standards, foreign partners in tourism and trade know safe practices are taken seriously.

SHTA members received the document in the SHTA’s weekly newsletter distributed May 12th.

The goal of the document is to inspire membership and non-members alike to create their own protocols befitting company standards. The 12-page document sets standards but leaves room and suggestions for companies to create their own specific guidelines, as challenges, demands and opportunities will vary per business.

SHTA thanks all parties involved in constructing the document, as well as regional parties for their suggestions. The document can be downloaded for anyone from SHTA.com/covid19. Even though 40 companies in various sectors have provided comments to the document, the association remains open for any suggestions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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