Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Sint Maarten to further relax restrictions on businesses and public movements in phases from May 18; the 2000-0600 curfew to be maintained.

This alert affects Sint Maarten

This alert began 17 May 2020 14:25 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Territorywide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through mid-June
  • Impact: Significant transport disruptions, lingering business disruptions, increased security

Officials in Sint Maarten will continue their process of relaxing movement and business restrictions relating to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from May 18, when Phase 2 will begin. These phases take place within a four-tiered system of gradual reopening through mid-June when all internal business restrictions are scheduled to reopen depending on local disease activity. Some of the businesses that will reopen under each phase are:

  • Phase 2 (May 18-31): Reopening of some primary schools; physiotherapy, mental health and rehabilitation facilities; government services; utilities and telecommunications companies; certain financial and professional services; and bus services (at 50 percent capacity). Previously authorized stores may reopen for walk-in services.
  • Phase 3 (June 1-14): Reopening of other education facilities; eat-in services, bars, and cinemas; sports facilities (including for contact sports); churches; taxis and ferry services.
  • Phase 4 (June 15 onwards): All remaining businesses, services and recreational activities to resume, such as bars, festivals, and personal care services.

All businesses and services will be allowed to reopen under strict social distancing and sanitation protocols Monday-Friday between 0800-1800, until further notice. Service is reserved for the elderly, pregnant women, and disabled people between 0800-1000. Jogging, walking, and cycling is permitted Monday-Friday between 0600-0800 and 1600-1800. The government will also maintain a nightly 2000-0600 curfew until further notice. The internal measures are in addition to the ban on all passenger flights into Sint Maarten since March 23; only cargo flights are allowed to land. Restrictions on ground transport between Sint Maarten and Saint Martin have been lifted as of May 17.

Significant transport and some lingering business disruptions are likely to persist despite the easing of restrictions. All restrictions and measures under each phase of reopening are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by authorities in Sint Maarten are similar to actions adopted by other governments in response to the spread of COVID-19, 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. Sint Maarten's decision to ease the restrictions was likely taken to allow for some economic recovery. 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.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by local health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

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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