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STATIA WELCOMES FULLY VACCINATED TOURISTS

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Public Entity St. Eustatius hereby reminds the community that as of upcoming Monday, August 2nd, 2021, the third phase of the Road Map will be effective. This means that fully vaccinated visitors including tourists can visit Statia. 

Visitors from high risk countries must adhere to a strict 5 days’ protocol upon arrival which includes wearing a face mask, keeping social distance and not attending large organized  events. Vaccinated visitors from very high-risk countries are welcome but must go into (central) quarantine for a period of 5 days upon entry. Fully vaccinated visitors from low risk countries do not have to adhere to certain measures and do not have to go into quarantine.

Non vaccinated

Non vaccinated residents, family members, workers or persons who own a home in Statia and who were in a high risk country or a very high risk country prior are welcome as well but must go into quarantine for a period of 10 days upon entry. Non vaccinated tourists cannot yet visit Statia.

A list of very high risk, high risk, low risk and very low countries can be found on the following link Country list | Regulation | St. Eustatius (statiagovernment.com). This list will be updated on a regular basis.

More risks

Further opening up means that there is a higher risk involved as more visitors from (very) high risk countries can enter Statia and might bring the virus to the island.

In addition, the Delta variant of COVID-19 increases the risk level as this variant is more contagious.  However, due to the enormous impact of COVID-19 on the economy of Statia, and the fact that social support packages of the Dutch government will no longer be provided, the local Government has no other choice than to further open up the island.

Vaccine

Due to the higher risk level, it is now even more important to get vaccinated. The Government will therefore keep on stressing the necessity to register for the vaccine. It has been proven that a person who was vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine is better protected against the Delta variant than someone who is not vaccinated. The vaccinated person has a lower chance to get infected. Even if this person gets infected, the chance that he/she gets severely ill or die is very low.

This does not mean that a vaccinated person cannot transmit the virus . This is still possible. That is why the hygiene rules such as wearing a face mask, keeping social distance and washing hands regularly is still applicable and becomes even more important while Statia opens up for tourists.

Impact and actions in case of an outbreak

The chance  of an outbreak on the Island is appreciable . In this case, the Government will do its utmost to reduce the impact by taking strict measures as an outbreak could quickly lead to a high amount of infections. Strict measures could be for example a curfew, closing of restaurants etc.

The hospital is prepared for an outbreak but the capacity is limited and severely sick patients will be evacuated  to Sint Maarten or elsewhere for intensive care treatment if necessary.

At least 50%

The condition to move from the current phase (2) to the new phase (3) is that at least 50 % (=1250 persons) of the adult population must be fully vaccinated. This is now the case. In total 1262 persons received both doses of the Moderna vaccine up till now. This is a bit more than 50% of the adult population consisting of 2500 adults.

In addition, 92 persons recently received their first doses which means that they will soon get their second shot. This means that in total 1354 persons (1262+92=1354) will soon be completely vaccinated.

Careful deliberation

The decision to further ease the measures was taken after careful deliberation and only after consulting the key partners involved. These are the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports in the Netherlands (VWS), the National Institute for Health and Environment (RIVM), the Island Council, the Central Dialogue, the tourism sector, the Public Health Department and the Crisis Management Team in Statia.  (Statia GIS)

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C&W Communications: CEO, Inge Smidts, underscores “Our People are our Greatest Asset” at CANTO’s Virtual Event

SINT MAARTEN/MIAMI-Florida - The 36th annual CANTO Trade and Virtual Exhibition kicked-off on Wednesday, July 28th with Headline Sponsor, C&W Communications (CWC), hosting the first day of the three-day virtual event. Held under the theme, ‘The New Digital Reality – 2021 and Beyond’, the event was formally opened by David Cox, Senior Director, Regulatory, CWC and current Chairman of CANTO who welcomed participants and panelists to CANTO’s first ever virtual trade event.

CWC put together an impressive line-up of discussion panels on the first day that focused on topical issues faced by the sector in the wake of an ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. In the first session of the day, CANTO Chairman David Cox spoke with CWC CEO, Inge Smidts, in a candid and insightful virtual fireside chat. Smidts detailed how the regional communications and entertainment provider has been able to navigate through the challenges of the pandemic and put a uniquely ‘human’ face on the company’s commitment to keep its employees working and its customers connected.

Smidts said passionately, “with the onset of COVID-19 we focused on our two (2) ‘Whys’: taking care of our people and keeping our customers connected. My philosophy is that our people are our biggest asset. Having the network capacity to meet the demands of our customers is important but having the right people to take care of our customers is even more important”. Smidts attributed the company’s ability to continue to meet those ‘whys’ on the resilience of its employees and their willingness to face the challenges head on to ensure they continued to find ways to keep customers connected.

As the Region’s only female CEO running a full-service telecommunications company, she offered the virtual audience some personal insights into her management style and leadership approach during the pandemic. Smidts said, “the pandemic induced a period of ‘unlearning’, forcing companies, including CWC, to find new ways to meet the needs of their customers and employees, and to embrace change”.

Other virtual sessions held included:

The ‘Women in ICT Leadership Panel Discussion’ adeptly hosted by Wendy McDonald, C&W Senior Director – Communications and Stakeholder Relations for the Caribbean. McDonald’s guests included: Daysi Andrades, Advisor to the Chief Information Officer at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC; Monica Desai, Global Head, Connectivity and Access Policy at Facebook; and Vice President of People at CWC, Sonali Dighe. This panel took an intense look at how the pandemic brought unique challenges for women in the workplace, particularly in leadership roles. In host McDonald’s preamble she spoke to the additional challenges imposed on women in the workplace who were forced to suddenly and unexpectedly manage competing and overlapping work and family commitments on a scale and with a level of urgency many women had never encountered before, a situation that in some cases is causing women to leave the workforce. CWC’s Sonali Dighe impressed upon the audience the need for companies in the region to focus on their leadership pipelines and to implement succession planning programs with a focus on moving more women into leadership positions.

Later in the program, ‘The Parenting and Education in the Digital Age’ discussion panel saw an equally impressive list of panelists which included: Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Education, Dr. the Honorable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly; Sherra Carrington-James, President of both the Caribbean Association of Principals of Secondary Schools and the Trinidad & Tobago Association of Principals of Secondary Schools. Also bringing a wealth of knowledge on human capital in the region was Dominic Boon, Vice President of Talent and Organizational Development at CWC’s parent company, Liberty Latin America. The panel was expertly moderated by Simone Martin-Sulgan, Vice President for CWC’s Operations in Trinidad and Tobago, who as a mother of two herself, was deeply connected to the panel’s in-depth look at how parents have been searching for new, engaging, and innovative means to support their children through this new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic. The panelists sought to address the issues facing the education sector and in keeping with the overall conference theme, using our “New Digital Reality” to determine where the opportunities for intelligent collective collaboration exist and do our best to exploit them to our and our children’s advantage.

C&W Communications has been a long-standing partner of CANTO and through its Corporate Social Responsibility programs, and the work of its C&W Charitable Foundation, continues to invest in and advocate for greater digital access for the region’s children. CWC is committed to working with governments and industry stakeholders towards this goal.

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TO INCREASE JOB OPPORTUNITIES Investing in education and labor market skills required

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - “The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a severe toll on the already fragile economies of Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Before the pandemic, Curaçao was in a protracted recession due mainly to the lingering spillover effects of the deep economic crisis in Venezuela.

“Meanwhile, Sint Maarten was starting to recover from the massive destruction caused by Hurricane Irma in 2017. According to the latest estimates, the economies of Curaçao and Sint Maarten may only reach their pre-pandemic levels by 2024”, stated Richard Doornbosch, president of the Centrale Bank van Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) in the 2020 Annual Report.

The crisis caused by the pandemic could inflict persistent damages to the economy through several channels. Among other things, private investment growth may be weaker than before the pandemic due to uncertainties about economic prospects in the short and medium term.

In addition, the crisis could result in a smaller labor force because of an increase in the number of discouraged workers and labor migration to countries with better prospects. Also, the crisis may affect productivity growth as business closures and bankruptcies result in capital losses and resource misallocation.

According to Doornbosch, tourism-dependent economies such as Curaçao and Sint Maarten may experience persistent and long-lasting scarring. Pandemic-related productivity losses may be substantial as tourism businesses face additional costs to reduce the risk of contagion because of health and cleaning protocols, social distancing measures, and measures for contactless accommodation and food services.

“To increase the pace of recovery while limiting economic scarring, it is important that the governments of Curaçao and Sint Maarten take measures to stimulate private investments by reducing the cost of doing business, the lengthy administrative procedures, and red tape”, stated Doornbosch.

“Furthermore, to prevent business closures, bankruptcies, and a reduction of the labor force, the governments should continue to provide financial support to the most affected sectors and workers while the crisis is ongoing”, he stated.

Since April 2020, discretionary policy measures are being implemented to dampen the socioeconomic effects of the pandemic, including payroll subsidies to businesses, income support to the self-employed, and unemployment support.

According to Doornbosch, these measures should be complemented by programs aimed at (re)training and skills development of the unemployed to increase their prospects in the labor market. Doornbosch added that the focus should not only be on a sustainable economic recovery but also on a more inclusive growth path that provides opportunities to all groups in society and distributes aggregate income in a fairer manner.

“To this end, structural reforms that accelerate productivity while improving social cohesion are crucial. These reforms include investing in the education system and stimulating lifelong learning, addressing rigidities in the labor market, and improving the quality of and access to digital technologies”, he stated.

Currently, tourism is the most important economic pillar of both Curaçao and Sint Maarten. For the recovery of this sector, continuous attention must be paid to health and hygiene protocols to rebuild trust and confidence among potential travelers. At the same time, new business models in the tourism industry with a higher value added than the traditional one could be considered, such as ecotourism.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how vulnerable the tourism sector is to external shocks and has underscored the importance of economic diversification. “Therefore, the economic policy agenda of both countries should include measures to improve the investment climate, in order to stimulate creativity and entrepreneurship,” concluded Mr. Doornbosch.

The complete text of the 2020 Annual Report is available on the CBCS-website at www.centralbank.cw under the Publications section.

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STATIA HERITAGE RESEARCH COMMISSION TAKES FIRST STEPS

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Public Entity St. Eustatius and the appointed Statia Heritage Research Commission (SHRC) met yesterday, Tuesday July 27, 2021, to discuss the next steps related to the recent archaeological excavations at the airport.

SHRC will also advise the Government Commissioners on community engagement as it was decided that the opinion of the community will play a critical role in the decision how to move forward. SHCR will re-evaluate the current heritage practices and policies as well.

In addition, the commission will discuss how to approach future discoveries of cemeteries and other archaeological findings.

The SHRC will operate as an independent commission that consists of international, regional and local Statian experts in the areas of history, archaeology, anthropology and community engagement. In addition to chairman Jay Haviser, an archaeologist on St. Maarten and the President of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology (IACA), the eight-nation SHRC with almost half of the members being of Statian descent, consists of 5 additional archaeologists.

These are Matthieu Ecrabet, Kevin Farmer, Corinne Hofman, Alexandra Jones and Joshua Torres. There are also 4 anthropologists on the team: Rose Mary Allen, Luc Alofs, Richenel Ansano and Teresa Leslie. The other members are Xiomara Balentina (psychologist), Ishmael Berkel (community leader), Alissandra Cummins (heritage specialist), Raimie Richardson (historian) and Paul Spanner (community leader). 

Productive

The meeting of SHCR of yesterday was a very productive international discussion in seeking the next appropriate step: for the community to have a voice about their heritage and for the government to receive professional guidance regarding their cultural policies and practices.

The SHRC commission offers a dynamic opportunity for serious and objective re-evaluations of our cultural heritage practices and policies for Statia, the Kingdom, and in the broader Caribbean, as indicted by the role of IACA in this discussion.

Following the meeting of yesterday, the SHRC commission members will deliver multi-disciplinary documents with, amongst others, suggestions how to engage the community on these important matters.

Suspend

Two weeks ago the Public Entity St. Eustatius announced to suspend the airport dig and appoint a (independent) commission. The appointment of SHRC is due to the fact that the Public Entity has neither the experience nor the expertise to deal with a project with such a significant cultural impact. (Statia GIS)

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Labour Inspectorate checks on Statia companies. Six foreigners with no residence/work permits

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Labour Inspectorate has carried out various inspections at companies on St. Eustatius. Together, six foreign nationals who resided illegally on the island and for whom no work permit had been issued, were found working at two companies.

KPCN (Police Force Caribbean Netherlands) and the KMar (Royal Netherlands Marechaussee Military Police) provided support for these inspections, which were carried out specifically on the basis of signals. The six concerning persons have been placed under the supervision of KPCN for further processing.

There was no question of labour exploitation at either company. The employers will receive a fine because they violated the BES Employment of Foreigners Act. It is not allowed to let employees from abroad work without a permit. This legislation protects the labour market and fights unfair competition.

The labour inspectors found a number of violations in the field of the BES labour law. Several employers received a warning because they structurally allow their employees to work more than forty hours, while they do not pay them extra for overtime. Overtime is only allowed within set conditions and against overtime pay.

In addition to carrying out checks in the field of fair, safe and healthy work, the Labour Inspectorate is currently investigating a number of cases on St. Eustatius in which there may be fraud with the corona support. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Funding sought to develop Saba Tourism Master Plan

SABA/THE HAGUE—The Saba delegation that recently visited The Hague discussed a proposal to draft the Tourism Master Plan 2022-2027. This long-term plan of action will provide a cohesive vision for tourism, to be developed with all stakeholders in the tourism sector.

Commissioner of Finance and Tourism Bruce Zagers, Island Secretary Tim Muller and senior policy advisor Nicole Johnson met with representatives of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK). During the meeting, a proposal for a tourism marketing plan was submitted and discussed. Funding is needed to draft this plan.

The tourism industry is of vital importance for Saba’s economy, providing direct and indirect activities and jobs. As the island continues to have positive developments both in room inventory and future harbor expansions, it is deemed crucial that Saba, its stakeholders and the tourism industry partners have a Tourism Master Plan for the next five years with a clear direction, action plan and budget alignment for the implementation.

The Tourism Master plan would provide a cohesive vision for tourism that is developed in collaboration with all tourism stakeholders and indicates how to transition to a new tourism platform in the future. The plan will also address prominent challenges that Saba’s tourism industry faces as it converts the tourism industry into an economic engine that serves all of Saba.

Saba has the opportunity to become a boutique destination that is founded on its core attributes by focusing on targeting low-impact, high-spend and high-yield visitors. The methodology of the Tourism Master Plan will be divided in three phases: 1. Where are now? 2. Where do we want to go? And 3. How do we get there?

The Tourism Master Plan was not the only plan that was discussed with the different ministries in The Hague. In a meeting with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK) it was agreed that this ministry will assist with capacity to put together a Strategic Development Plan for Saba, as well as a Spatial Development Plan. Both these plans are important as Saba continues to develop.

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) has committed to assist with the drafting of an Agricultural Plan. The Island Council has specifically asked for a long-term agricultural vision as Saba continues to work on sustainability and improving its self-reliance. The RVO will also assist with a Mobility Plan that will address traffic and parking.

The Saba delegation further met with the Dutch Cadaster. It was agreed that the Netherlands Cadaster will assist with the drafting of a plan of action, together with the Public Entity Saba, on how to further professionalize the Saba Cadaster.

During a meeting at the Ministry of Justice and Security (JenV), the continuation of funding for the Saba Legal Desk was discussed. Saba is seeking to secure a structural, three-year funding for the successful Legal Desk which is in high demand among residents.

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Relocation corals at new harbor site is a meticulous process

SABA (THE BOTTOM) —The pilot has started to relocate the coral colonies from Black Rocks, the proposed location where Saba’s new harbor will be built. The pilot and the actual relocation, a meticulous process, is carried out by the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF).

International Conventions, in particular the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol, require the protection, preservation and sustainable management of threatened or endangered species.

Amongst the protected species are the wild colonies of critically endangered Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata), Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) and Mountainous star coral (Montastraea faveolata) that live in the area where the harbor will be built. An exemption of the protocol must be obtained before the start of the harbor construction.

Fully aware of the importance of preserving the corals, the harbor project management discussed the presence of the colonies with SCF. In 2019, as a first step, SCF surveyed the project area. All protected corals colonies in the project area were photographed and mapped. The gathered information also served as input for the Environmental Impact Assessment by EcoVision.

The next step was the start of a pilot project to determine the best site and method for the relocation of the corals. Early 2021, a team of SCF carefully removed a few coral samples from the project location and brought these to two nurseries: the existing nursery at Ladder Bay on the west side of Saba and a new nursery at a location known as Hole in the Corner on the south side of Saba. Outside coral experts were consulted about the coral relocation trial.

 The relocation has to take place in a very careful manner, because corals are a highly sensitive species. The corals are moved in crates in which the water is continuously refreshed and kept at a constant temperature. The coral colonies are moved as a whole as much as possible.

The team continuously monitors the health of the relocated coral samples in the nurseries. Initial surveys have shown that Hole in the Corner is more suitable for the corals’ relocation, because there is less sedimentation, less algae growth and it is closer to Black Rocks, with more similar natural circumstances. This means less stress for the corals. As a next step in the trial, more fragments are relocated to Hole in the Corner, but this time the fragments are placed directly on the reef, instead of a nursery. This is the ultimate test of the relocation trial.

The pilot provides valuable information, in preparation of the harbor project permitting and construction. The coral colonies will be moved as a whole as much as possible.

Coral relocation trial picture 3

Coral relocation trial picture 1

 

 

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Saba and Statia join hands in strengthening sports

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - Saba and St. Eustatius signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Friday, July 21, 2021, and thereby commit to combine efforts, network and knowledge to strengthen sports. Through the MOU a positive sporting climate on and between both islands is created.

Saba and Statia will undertake joint initiatives such as enhancing the sports structure and related activities, organizing regional sporting tournaments and competitions and bringing specific sports knowledge to the islands. There will also be a connection with other domains like health, culture, youth and poverty.

The recent visit of Statian swimming instructors to Saba is part of the strengthened collaboration. The swimming instructors from the Sint Eustatius Swimming Association (SESA) and Sports Facilities Foundation (SSFF) teach swimming to Saban children as part of the summer program on Saba. The planned visits of the Dutch Sporting Associations in 2022 and the introduction of an Inter-Island exchange program for youth to encourage their development, are both big steps in developing sports on the two Islands. Meaningful connections are made and the participants are able to experience each other’s culture. It is important to reduce barriers for its inhabitants in order to obtain a healthy lifestyle. At the same time, it is about creating a platform for talented athletes, especially youth, to optimize development and performance.

Saba and Statia have a strong, long-term bond. With only a few kilometers between the two neighboring islands within the Caribbean Netherlands, the small communities and isolated locations can sometimes be seen as a limitation for sports and its youth. Both Public Entities therefore seek a united approach to significantly increase the development and participation of sports in the coming four years. (Statia GIS)

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CPS Closed for COVID-19 Vaccinations on Monday. All Other Services are Available at CPS

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), would like to inform the public that its offices at the Vineyard Office Complex will be closed on Monday, July 26th for COVID-19 vaccinations.

All other services offered by CPS remain open such as COVID-19 testing, the Baby Clinic, and Vector Control.

CPS is asking those clients who have an appointment scheduled at CPS to either go to the Belair Community Center on Monday between 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM or they can choose to return to CPS on Tuesday, July 27th.

Hours of operation at CPS are 8:30 AM -12:30 PM and 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM.

CPS apologizes for any inconvenience caused.

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COVID-19 Relief Group Holds Second Fundraising on Aug.1st

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The COVID-19 Relief Group will hold its second Fundraising Drive on Saturday, July 31st and Sunday, August 1st. On both days, the Group will be stationed at the Carrefour Market in Cul-de-Sac, from 10am until the closing of the supermarket. Persons, families, companies, businesses are encouraged to stop by and give their donation in cash or checks.

With the funds, raised during its first Fundraising Drive, the COVID-19 Relief Fund was able to assist a total of 66 persons with the payment of small bills. The assistance went towards the payment of rent, medical or GEBE bills and the purchase of food. Forty-two persons received a check to buy food at several of our supermarkets.

The funds also helped 10 persons to pay their rent; 13 persons received help with their GEBE bill and 1 person received help with a medical bill. “I am pleased that we have been able to meet the needs of so many persons with the funds that we raised from the general public and from several companies on the island”, says Mr. Rollocks, the initiator of the Fundraising Group.

We all know that there are people in our community who are still suffering from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are out of jobs, yet they still have bills to pay, mouths to feed but they do not know where the money will come from.

The COVID-19 Relief Group wants to continue to assist these persons with their acute financial needs. For this reason, the Group is holding its second fundraising activity to raise additional funds to assist those persons in need.

During the first Fundraising Drive the Group was able to raise a total of NAf. 12.415,80, dollars included. With the help of Father Adam of the Sint Maarten Christian Council, Pastor Cuvalay of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and Apostle Wilson of the Sint Maarten United Ministerial Foundation the Group was able to help 66 persons in our community.

But the funds have now all been used up. “We hope we can raise more money, than we did last time, because the need in our community is great and we would like to do something about it”, said the Group’s coordinator, Pastor Wycliffe Smith.

The Group will be at the Carrefour Market this weekend and is inviting everybody to pass by and give a donation. No donation is too small or too large. Finally, the Group would like to remind the general public of the words uttered by Jesus Christ: “In as much as you have done this to the least of these my brothers (and sisters), you have done it unto me”.

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