The St. Maarten government has not mandated vaccines. As every government around the world, we are seeking to ensure our people are protected to avoid unnecessary suffering and loss of life.
The vaccine has proven to protect us. This is evident from the high percentage of unvaccinated persons contracting the virus and becoming seriously ill. The choice is yours whether you vaccinate or not. Last year we did not have this option, so we had no choice than to stop moving to stop the spread.
Today there are options, if you choose to vaccinate you are covered for 95%, so you still have a small chance to contract it and a lesser chance to spread it. If you choose to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, your risks are higher.
Regardless to whether you are vaccinated or not you should choose to move SMART. All residents should continue to use masks, use a high level of hygiene protocols at home, when entering establishments, public transportation and when returning home. Your behavior will determine whether you are in sustained contact with an infected person.
As Government we have required testing to enter the island for travelers, those protocols will also become stricter to protect our residents. There is no money in this for government, as a matter of fact there is a huge cost to government in the form of loans to be able to sustain those who have lost jobs as a result of the pandemic and subsequent shut downs, lack of flights and downturn in the economy. There is also a cost involved to bring in extra medical personnel, rent alternate locations, and pay for the double and triple shifts, some are working. There is also a heavy burden on our medical frontliners, their families and the community. Regular medical procedures are being pushed back as well.
We are just getting back on our feet, and there is a storm looming as we are also in the hurricane season. This brings added need to be prepared and protect our families and the most vulnerable.
Let?s work together to protect ourselves and our families while securing our livelihoods. Wear your mask at all times when in public spaces. Business owners must uphold safety protocols.
Let?s stop fighting each other and work together. More stakeholder meetings will continue to come to the best solution for St. Maarten without causing more suffering and harm to the wider community.
Government will continue to promote the vaccination as a way to build herd immunity to avoid further serious infections and death, however it is still your choice to get vaccinated.
God bless the people of St. Maarten and around the world as we struggle to survive throughout this pandemic, which is real, is affecting our health, our ability to sustain ourselves and taking lives.
Stay vigilant, stay safe and let?s do this together. It will take all of us doing our part.