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Nightclubs and bars did not follow guidelines and protocols --- Ottley.

omarottley23022021PHILIPSBURG:--- Minister of Health and Labor Omar Ottley did not mince with words on Wednesday when he called out the nightclubs and bars for not following protocols and set guidelines when the country reopened its business sector late last year. The Minister said that these establishments signed agreements and agreed to test and other guidelines but they simply did not follow through.
Ottley said as the Minister of Labor he took decisions with the labor sector into consideration but today has prioritized the medical aspect because of the spread of the coronavirus.
Ottley explained that since St. Maarten was not going to receive any liquidity support, SSRP, or food vouchers for the first quarter of 2002 he had to take the economic situation into consideration. He said measures and protocols were put in place but not followed. Ottley said St. Maarten was the only island that had decent economic activity for the New Year which contributed to the spread of the coronavirus. The Minister said the government of St. Maarten always promoted safe and healthy economic activity.
Ottley said he was pressured and even approached by the Netherlands who asked him to shut down the island for some time now but because he understood the country’s financial situation, he did not comply with the request of the RIVM. He said back then he pleaded with the nightlife club owners, and they all made promises because they wanted to remain open, but the fact remains that they did not follow through. Because these businesses did not follow through and the current hospitalization, the government had to implement its phase 2 plan and scale back business hours to 11 pm.
The Minister further explained that while some people are blaming the tourists for the spread of the virus, he wants to make clear that all of the persons that are hospitalized are locals. 12 persons are currently in hospital, some of which are in critical condition, of the 12, three of these patients are vaccinated and while they tested positive for the omicron variant of the coronavirus, two of them are not exhibiting any signs or symptoms. Ottley said these patients were admitted to the hospital for other medical procedures and when they were tested due to the screening protocols at the St. Maarten Medical Center it showed they contracted the virus. The other  9 patients Ottley said are all unvaccinated and some are critical.
Ottley said that the scale back in the business hours was not based on the amount of active cases but based on hospitalization. He called on residents to consider getting vaccinated because the data shows that those that are suffering are those that opted not to get vaccinated.

The Minister also explained that there are no clusters at any of the schools. He said there for 4 cases last week and contact tracing was done.
At the moment the Minister said vaccination for children between the ages of 5 to 11 years old.

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