DH | Dutch, French fail to agree on reopening of borders

Dronefoto van een afsluiting met een zeecontainer van een grensovergang tussen het Franse en Nederlandse deel van Sint Maarten. Ⓒ ANP

PHILIPSBURG–The governments of Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin were unable to agree moving forward on the re-opening of the internal borders until further assessments are done regarding the medical and health aspects of the COVID-19 virus and its effect on the population in terms of community spread.

Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs said that once this information has been gathered, the two governments will meet next week to further ascertain the date that the border controls will be lifted.

The two sides met on Thursday to synchronise the de-escalation measures.

During the meeting, each government was able to give a presentation on its phased de-escalation plans with a special focus on educational institutions and public transportation in regard to school buses. Also, discussed in the meeting was the synchronisation of border control measures for each phase of the economic re-opening plans, as well as proposals for border re-opening after community testing has taken place.

The government of French St. Martin said it is currently evaluating its school opening to see how many students will be returning. However, this is being done before any further discussions take place at an executive level in regard to students who reside in Dutch St. Maarten and attend school in French St. Martin.

Despite the St. Maarten government’s concern for these students, no agreement was made for such, Jacobs said. As for the schools in Dutch St. Maarten, only schools that have indicated that they will be re-opening will open. Therefore, parents are asked to stay updated and in contact with their child(ren)’s school(s).

Public transportation buses continue to be inspected by the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) and will be given the green light to commence working on the public roads as long as they meet the safety guidelines. However, they must remain within the Dutch borders until the government has finalised discussions with its French counterparts.

In the meantime, based on the latest available data provided by Collective Prevention Services (CPS) epidemiologist Eva Lista-de Weever, for Thursday, May 14, as of 4:00pm, there were no new reported COVID-19 confirmed cases for Dutch St. Maarten.

However, the data show an increase of one more person in self-quarantine and two more persons in self-isolation. The number of persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 currently hospitalised at the mobile medical pavilion has decreased to two patients.

CPS also indicated that its community outreach testing campaign will continue in the community on Saturdays and Sundays, as businesses are closed on these days. Contact tracing as needed to ensure that the virus is contained will also continue.

“As we are re-opening our economy in phases, things may seem to be reverting to normal. However, we cannot afford to become complacent where our safety and the safety of our loved ones are concerned. Rather, we must maintain the personal protection guidelines always. I encourage you to educate your children about the new norm and ensure that they too understand and follow the safety guidelines,” Jacobs said. “Most importantly, be an example to them in demonstrating this.

“Let us remember that mitigating the spread of COVID-19 depends on us all. I commend your efforts thus far as we continue to fight the COVID-19 virus, and encourage each of you to ensure that these practices are habitual for you and your family.”

She said the mitigation of the spread of the virus depends on the behaviour of the St. Maarten people. “Let’s stop the spread of this virus together. Together we can.”
Bron: Daily Herald

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