On Saturday, many persons flocked to buy last-minute supplies and groceries in anticipation of the shutdown.
~ Community spread has started ~
PHILIPSBURG–Prime Minister and Chairperson of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Silveria Jacobs declared a state of emergency on Saturday evening in response to the growing spread of coronavirus COVID-19 in the country. Starting midnight tonight, St. Maarten will be under a 24-hour curfew for two weeks.
All movement will be prohibited during the shutdown, except for workers of emergency and essential services. These persons must in possession of a disaster pass, or written permission issued by Jacobs or Police Chief Carl John.
Persons without the necessary documentation risk arrest. Personnel of the Royal Dutch Marine Corps stationed in St. Maarten will be assisting police in enforcing the 24-hour curfew, said John. He confirmed that the marines will have full arrest powers.
Grocery stores, supermarkets, bakeries, electronics stores, hardware stores, pharmacies, medical practitioners, dental clinics and veterinary services will also be closed and will only operate “in case of emergencies.”
In anticipation of the shutdown, persons in St. Maarten flocked to grocery stores and supermarkets on Saturday before the close of business, resulting in long lines and crowding at many locations.
All construction projects are prohibited, except for construction related to the COVID-19 pavilions at St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC).
Two new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by Jacobs on Saturday, bringing the total number of positive cases on the Dutch-side to 25. The youngest case is an 11-year-old child. Four persons – two men and two women – have died from the disease thus far, ranging between 47 and 69 years old.
Jacobs said community spread of COVID-19 in St. Maarten has started. According to the United States (US) Centers for Disease Control, community spread means “people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.”
Jacobs also said the EOC will evaluate the situation in the country after one week to determine if the shutdown will be partially lifted to allow persons to procure necessary supplies.