POND ISLAND — The Ministry of Health recently launched a website to streamline the process for visitors coming to St. Maarten to submit a mandatory health authorization application.
“Travelers to St. Maarten must submit a health authorization request via www.stmaartenentry.com before being granted entry into St. Maarten,” confirmed Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, the Honorable Richard Panneflek on Thursday.
The website gives travelers access to an Electronic Health Authorization System (EHAS) where they can fill in a form in advance requesting permission to travel to St. Maarten. Along with the mandatory application, the site also posts updated travel requirements as stipulated by the Government of St. Maarten through the Ministry of Health. Visitors must have health insurance coverage and travel insurance covering COVID-19. Since the online application process began, over 340 have made use of it. While most complied with the requirements, a few did not and as such were denied entry to St. Maarten for failing to meet the specified requirements. Airport controls and testing are also being done, and the website shows which countries St. Maarten considers to be high-risk transmission countries, moderate risk transmission, or low-risk transmission countries.
Travelers coming to St. Maarten from a low-risk country such as Anguilla, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saba, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, will be exempted from the mandatory rt-PCR test. “While we have indicated some countries as low-risk countries, this information is constantly being reviewed and may be subject to change if the situation in those countries changes,” said Minister Panneflek. The Minister also said that travelers from low-risk countries will still be screened, which includes a questioner and temperature check before they are allowed entry. The updated requirements posted on the website also indicates that “other tests such as antibody tests or antigen tests and tests performed outside of these 72 hours will not be accepted.” It also states that the rt-PCR test methods with an Emergency Use Only Authorization (EUA) approval from the FDA will not be accepted.
“Travelers who reside in a low-risk country but have visited a moderate or high-risk country in the 14 days before departing to Sint Maarten, must also have an rt-PCR test for the SARS-COV-2 virus performed within 72 hrs.” Additional requirements also include a Reverse transcription-polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test using only the nasopharyngeal swab procedure. The Nasopharyngeal swab is the collection of a clinical test sample of nasal secretions from the back of the nose and throat. The test must be conducted no more than 72-hours before departure from your destination. These measures are part of St. Maarten’s efforts to protect its citizens and visitors as the world continues to fight against the global pandemic COVID-19. Travel applicants receive a response via e-mail indicating if their EHAS application is approved or denied. If the request is approved, the e-mail will contain a printable authorization which must be presented to the health and immigration authorities upon arrival.
The rt-PCR test result should be presented to the health authorities upon request. Persons suffering from flu-like symptoms and or has a fever will be denied entry. International Air Transport Association IATA who supports the global aviation industry through the establishment of policies on airline safety, security, efficiency and sustainability has also accepted St. Maarten’s EHAS form and general visitor acceptance requirements. The measures are consistent with international airport standards for travel in the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The Ministry of Health has also indicated that original test results must be uploaded on www.stmaartenentry.com site and it must specify the name of the lab where the test was conducted, the name of the person tested along with the date and type of test administered. The method of obtaining the test sample must also be explained, and travelers are advised that typed, written, or e-mail statements from doctors or non-laboratories will not be accepted.
Minister Panneflek said there are also specific requirements for Crew Members of Airlines both private and commercial. “Airline and private flight crews with stopovers in St. Maarten or St. Martin are exempted from the health authorization procedure but must demonstrate a valid (performed within 72 hours of departure to Sint Maarten) negative rt-PCR test. Crew members not in possession of a valid negative rt-PCR test must self-quarantine until their departure flight.”
Daily alerts will be sent to visitors’ e-mail addresses as the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) will be monitoring each visitor’s health condition during their stay. The use of the website www.stmaartenentry.com is also being promoted by the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau STB to its global travel partners.
“Remind the general public to maintain a social distance of two meters, sanitize your hands routinely and wear your mask. Only together we can overcome,” the minister concluded.