Government has yet to decide when the country’s external borders will be reopened to visitors and on the protocols that will be put in place for doing so, said Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmila de Weever during the live virtual Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday morning. De Weever also announced that returning residents from some Caribbean islands do not have to enter quarantine upon arrival.
Although government had earlier pledged to disclose the protocols that will be put in place for the country’s reopening by June 15, there has yet be any announcements on this matter.
However, De Weever said TEATT, the Justice Ministry, and the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA are working “diligently behind the scenes” to develop the “best policy for reopening St. Maarten to visitors and keeping everyone healthy and safe.”
De Weever said government is still aiming to reopen Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) and Port St. Maarten in “early July.” She said this is contingent on the country receiving enough test kits for the influx of visitors.
VSA Minister Richard Panneflek confirmed on Wednesday that health protocols for travelling through St. Maarten’s points of entry have yet to be approved by the Council of Ministers.
According to De Weever, the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) is working with industry stakeholders on a tourism recovery plan. “We want to ensure that visitors know that we are as safe of an island as possible and we will demonstrate that by keeping our COVID-19-free status,” she said.
Despite PJIA and Port St. Maarten being closed to visitors, De Weever said that now residents can come home on repatriation services from Saba, St. Eustatius, Bonaire, Curaçao, Aruba, Anguilla, St. Barths, Martinique, and Guadeloupe. If a returning resident has remained in that country for 21 days prior to travel, they will not be required to quarantine upon arrival to St. Maarten.
Residents coming from countries other than these are not yet allowed to return, said De Weever.
“We are looking at adding some other countries within the Caribbean region [to that list – Ed.] to facilitate that they [residents] can travel to St. Maarten as well,” said Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs on Wednesday.
The Daily Herald.