THE HAGUE–Turning the status of Curaçao’s code yellow to orange, which would restrict travelling to the island from the Netherlands, is a possibility. Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops alluded to this on Friday.
Currently, Curaçao and also Bonaire are the only two Dutch Caribbean islands that are on code yellow within the Kingdom. There has been a run on vacations to Curaçao since Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced some two weeks ago that travelling to the Dutch Caribbean islands with a yellow status remained possible, whereas all other travelling was strongly discouraged.
However, in the meantime the number of COVID-19 cases in Curaçao has rapidly increased. This fact, along with videos on social media showing Dutch vacationers ignoring the coronavirus measures such as social distancing and wearing a face mask in crowded areas, resulted in a public call in the Netherlands to put Curaçao on code orange.
“The travel advice can always change if there is a reason to do so,” State Secretary Knops told the media. The local situation merited the yellow status with very limited infections, but at the moment the numbers are increasing, and this needs to be carefully monitored, he said.
“We are keeping a close watch on the situation, and I don’t exclude that this will happen, but I will not anticipate a possible decision,” said Knops when asked about turning the code from yellow to orange. He called on vacationers to keep to the health and safety regulations to prevent the spreading of the virus.
Knops said there was always a chance that vacationers would return to the Netherlands with COVID-19, especially with the numbers on the rise on the island. But he pointed out that the Netherlands had many more infections than Curaçao. “I think the risk of people on the island catching the virus from Dutch visitors is greater than the other way around. But we will keep a close watch and weigh the risks.”
The state secretary noted that closing the island to tourists also presented a risk, be it of an economic nature. “There are also great risks when you unnecessarily close a country. That is why Curaçao had asked to keep the island open. Don’t forget that the islands greatly depend on tourism.”
Curaçao Minister Plenipotentiary Raymond Begina reminded the media that everyone entering Curaçao had to be in possession of a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. He said the number of infections was not alarming, and that the number of infections had nothing to do with Dutch vacationers.
“All infections are local transmissions and happen within families and at the workplace. Infections coming in from abroad are mostly due to crew changes on the cruise ships. Dutch tourists entering the country so far have been clean. There is little interaction between the tourists and the local population,” said Begina.
Begina said Dutch tourists could keep coming and that in the interest of the economy it was important that they continued to do so. The only limitation is the ceiling that Curaçao authorities put in place of a maximum 20,000 tourists per month.
Bron: Daily Herald