Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Officials in the Caribbean Netherlands extend flight ban until June 15, while continuing to ease domestic restrictions.

This alert affects Caribbean Netherlands

This alert began 16 May 2020 13:03 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Authorities have extended a ban on passenger flights to the Caribbean Netherlands islands through at least June 15, as part of the territories' efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Officials in Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius are also likely to continue to maintain restrictions on entry to the islands, especially for nonresidents, until further notice. In Bonaire, only residents in Saba, Curacao, or Sint Eustatius are permitted to return, with permission from the lieutenant governor. All arriving passengers will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return.

As of May 16, most businesses and facilities have reopened across the islands, provided they adhere to social distancing standards and enhanced sanitation procedures. Local officials are likely to continue easing existing internal movement and business restrictions over the coming weeks, depending on local disease activity. Certain activities are still prohibited, such as attending nightclubs and any large public gatherings. In Bonaire, all public gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned; in Sint Eustatius, the number is capped at 25.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely to persist despite the easing of internal restrictions. Authorities could amend restrictions at short notice.

Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Some governments have begun relaxing certain domestic restrictive measures in response to indications that the spread of the disease has been adequately contained locally, and due to the need to allow some economic recovery. However, international movement restrictions are likely to be protracted in the Caribbean Netherlands. Should the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increase, relaxed restrictions may be reapplied. Likewise, a continued low number of cases may result in further relaxation of restrictions.

Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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