Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Officials in Sint Maarten impose nightly curfew; increase travel, movement restrictions through at least mid-April due to COVID-19 activity.

This alert affects Sint Maarten

This alert began 01 Apr 2020 22:56 GMT and is scheduled to expire 16 Apr 2020 03:59 GMT.

  • Event: COVID-19 Restrictions
  • Location(s): Countrywide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least mid-April
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Summary
Officials in Sint Maarten have ordered an indefinite nightly 2000-0600 curfew and increased movement and travel restrictions through at least mid-April as part of the country's efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The curfew entered into effect March 30; only persons working in essential services with night or early morning shifts, as well as security and medical personnel, will be allowed on the streets during curfew hours.

A stay-at-home order has also been in effect since March 27. Residents may only leave their homes to perform essential tasks, such as obtaining basic goods, attending to a medical issue, caring for a person in need, or performing outdoor recreational activities, provided they comply with social distancing requirements. Most businesses have been ordered to close, with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, fuel stations, healthcare facilities, media organizations, and cargo and transport companies. Most government offices are also closed. These measures will remain in force until further notice. Individuals working in essential businesses and services, as well as those who need to travel for reasons not related to work, must be in possession of a government form justifying their movements.

Authorities have also limited ground travel between Sint Maarten and Saint Martin until at least April 15. 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. All travelers must obtain documentation in order to cross the border. 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 and charter flights to repatriate foreign citizens are being allowed to land at Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) through at least April 7.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing the measure. Officials could amend the order in short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

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
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in 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.

Resources
WHO coronavirus knowledge base: www.who.int

Sint Maarten Government - COVID-19 Updates: www.sintmaartengov.org/government/VSA/Health-Updates/NOVELCORONAVIRUS/Pages/default.aspx

Sint Maarten Government: http://www.sintmaartengov.org/

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