PHILIPSBURG — The following statements are taken from the Minister of TEATT’s special national briefing on Saturday, August 15, 2020, as part of the process to keep the community of St. Maarten informed about the latest developments in regards to commercial business closures as a precautionary measure to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 throughout the communities on the island.
Good Afternoon, Deputy Prime Minister Doran, colleague Minister Panneflek, the viewing public, and Ms. Roache.
This special National Briefing is regarding the recent spike in the number of active cases of COVID-19 on St. Maarten. The significant increase in active cases and hospitalizations is a matter of great concern. The number of active cases in one week rose from 74 to 150 on August 14, 2020. The rate at which the COVID-19 virus is spreading is very worrying. In the context of the health of citizens and medical capacity, government intervention is of urgent importance.
For this reason, we have decided per Ministerial Decree, whereby commercial premises with licenses for clubs, coffee houses, and bars will be temporarily closed. Premises with a license for a restaurant must close at 10:00 PM, and we urge and request all other businesses with a right to an alcohol license to do the same. This decision will be in effect from Sunday, August 16, 2020, until August 31, 2020.
The last thing that I would like for us to do, is to close businesses. However, at the urging of our medical professionals, the increase in active cases has become increasingly worrying. We are trying to assist our medical professionals as much as we can in order to minimize these cases. Therefore, our way of assisting them is by implementing this Ministerial Decree.
Locations that must close include: bars, nightclubs, discotheques, lounges, such as cigar lounges and other lounges as well as “adult entertainment.” On Thursday, I spoke to all the owners of the adult entertainment industry and I would like the public to know that they have cooperated with the government and closed in advance of this Ministerial Decree in order to assist the government in minimizing these active cases. This means that premises that require a license or permission pursuant to Article 2 of the National Ordinance License to be able to sell alcoholic beverages also fall under this decision.
Continuing business activity in a safe manner remains government’s top priority. I’d like to remind the public, that it is of utmost importance that we continue to practice the behavior that will allow for businesses to continue operating in a safe manner.
St. Maarten is now open and we are welcoming people to our shores. However, we also need to make sure that our people are safe. This is the way that we can do it with as little impact as possible and this is temporary. This is also our way to assist the medical professionals in containing this virus. Do remember, that the spread of COVID-19, is all related to the manner in which we behave.
Thank you for your attention. I hope that everyone remains safe and responsible.