Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Sint Maarten enforces new movement restrictions April 19-May 10 due to COVID-19. Other international travel restrictions remain in place.

This alert affects Sint Maarten

This alert began 20 Apr 2020 10:30 GMT and is scheduled to expire 11 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Territorywide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 10
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, increased security

Summary
Officials in Sint Maarten announced new movement and business restrictions which will remain in effect through at least May 10. These measures replace the 24-hour curfew that was imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Essential businesses will only be allowed to open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 0800-1800; these businesses include supermarkets, grocery stores, bakeries, pharmacies, pharmaceutical suppliers, banks, and gas stations, as well as retailers of cooking gas. Only the elderly, disabled persons, and pregnant women will be allowed to shop 0800-0900. The public is only allowed to make use of the essential businesses in their residential zone: Zone A is east of Cole Bay Hill and Zone B is the west. Essential and emergency workers will operate normally.

Authorities have also limited ground travel between Sint Maarten and Saint Martin. Only individuals attending to emergencies or who work in essential businesses on one side of the island and live on the other may cross the border with the necessary waiver. The travel restrictions will not apply to cargo transport. Officials have also banned all passenger flights into Sint Maarten since March 23; only cargo flights are allowed to land.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. A larger than usual police presence is probable in the streets. All restrictions 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 the US and globally in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
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.

Resources
WHO coronavirus knowledge base: www.who.int

Sint Maarten Government: www.sintmaartengov.org

Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM): www.sxmairport.com