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St. Maarten declares state of emergency, enforcement on Sunday 0.00 hours.

silly07032020PHILIPSBURG: --- Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs has declared State of Emergency for the Southern side of the island. The national decree was signed off by Governor Eugene Holiday and the Prime Minster Silveria Jacobs. The lockdown goes into effect tonight at 0.00 hours Sunday, April 5th, 2020( midnight tonight.)
The Prime Minister said that the country has no choice but to declare a state of emergency and institute a 24-hour curfew for a period of two weeks. Jacobs said that persons that are exempted from the curfew must have a “Disaster Pass” or a letter from the Chief of Police Carl John. Details on obtaining the exemption will be announced on Sunday, April 5th, 2020 at a joint press conference where Prefet Sylvie Feucher will participate.
Persons that are exempted are elected or appointed government officials, their drivers and other security, Governor Holiday and his chauffeur and security, medical personnel, pharmacies that have to be opened based on the regulation outlined for opening on Sundays and holidays, security companies, garbage collectors, freight services, shipping, and cargo services including FEDEX and DHL, media personnel.
Two gas stations will be opened to service emergency vehicles, cooking gas companies can open only for delivery to emergency businesses and domestic purposes, while some clinics such as dental services can open for emergency services. Bakeries, groceries will also be opened to deliver goods, to social affairs, a decision will be taken shortly on allowing persons who do not have the means to stock for the entire period. Jacobs said the government is working on allowing residents to be able to shop at their neighborhood supermarkets, that she said depends on the behavior of the people during this mandatory lockdown. Construction is totally halted. 
Persons that have elderly family members on the Dutch side and would need to take daily meals to their elderly relatives would need to obtain a special pass from the Chief of Police Carl John.
While government has been advising the community to prepare for lockdown and to prepare for at least two weeks. Jacobs said that those persons that could not or did not have the means to stock up should contact Social Affairs as they began distributing food boxes as of Saturday. Jacobs urged persons that were unable to stock up to contact government as they are doing everything to properly accommodate the vulnerable.
Employers that are forcing their employees to work will be sanctioned as there is an email address and phone number available to report the employers, that information can be obtained on government website and Facebook page.
Chief Commissioner of Police Carl John said the military arrived on St. Maarten to assist with the controls and to ensure the lockdown ( 24-hour curfew) is respected. He said that those that opted to break these restrictions risk being arrested and the police now have the power through the national decree to seized properties. John called on the members of the community to respect the law and to stay at home as this necessary to combat the COVID-19.
Churches are not allowed to hold services or gathering, residents are also not allowed to loiter on roadsides, or to hold social gathering. The decree on the State of Emergency can be found in the National Gazette and will also be on Government’s Facebook page.
Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs said that locking down the country is absolutely necessary in order to flatten the curve on the COVID-19 pandemic, she said the numbers are rising daily while St. Maarten already recorded four COVID-19 related deaths with the youngest being 47 years old and the oldest 69 years old.

Project: Strengthening non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

Feedback URGENTLY needed! Call for NGO Stakeholder Feedback: Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Strengthening Project.

PHILIPSBURG:---VNG International (VNGI) is calling on all NGO stakeholders for input to strengthen the NGO sector, in a post-Irma recovery and reconstruction effort. VNGI, through the World Bank, managed Trustfund, financed by the Government of The Netherlands, has been diligently working on a grants mechanism, which will launch periodic calls for proposals, to fund projects with recovery and rehabilitation objectives, as well as providing technical assistance and capacity building for the grant beneficiaries (NGOs). VNGI has been working on Sint Maarten in the context of the recovery and reconstruction efforts since the passing of hurricane Irma in 2017.
Given the importance of close involvement of all stakeholders and to ensure proper consultation, VNGI is calling on all NGO sector stakeholders to review two of the main instruments used for this purpose, namely the draft 'Environmental and Social Safeguards Instrument' and the draft 'Stakeholders Engagement Plan'. Both need NGO Stakeholder input to be further processed. Kindly go to and provide your comments using the provided 'Feedback Form'.
If you have questions the local advisors are happy to assist you and you can send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 581 5050.

UPDATE: “Transfer home of Detainees to Sint Maarten.

annasilly02042020PHILIPSBURG:--- St. Maarten was made aware that the Netherlands would be returning three of our detainees on March 28, 2020, who was transferred to the Netherlands due to the state that our prison was in after Hurricane Irma. During the discussions with the Netherlands concerning the transfer of the detainees, it quickly became evident that it was not possible for the detainees to remain in the Netherlands any longer.
Considering the limited resources that St. Maarten has, Prime Minister and Chair of the Emergency Operations Center EOC, Silveria Jacobs, made a strong plea to the Dutch Minister of Legal Protection Min. Dekker requesting additional time of one week to get the necessary support system in place, to ensure an adequate transfer and accommodation of the detainees. Despite this plea, Minister Dekker insisted that the detainees return to St. Maarten within the time frame that was set giving St. Maarten no other option than to accept the return of the detainees.
This operation was made possible with the cooperation of the Minister of Justice of Curacao Mr. Quincy Girigorie and Minister of Traffic, Transport and Spatial Planning of Curaçao Mrs. Zita Jesus-Leto.
On March 31st, 2020, the three detainees returned from the Netherlands to St. Maarten accompanied by members of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee. The transfer took place via Curacao to St. Maarten, where the detainees and their escorts were transferred securely. Upon successful completion of the transfer of the detainees to Sint Maarten, the security escorts flew directly back to Curacao with the same charter.
“On behalf of St. Maarten, I would like to express our gratitude towards both Minister, Girigorie and Minister Jesus-Leto, as well as all the persons involved in the safe transport and security our the detainees,” stated Minister Richardson.

CEO Brian Mingo: Airport is in hibernation but keeps working on its future.

pjiaebuilding04042020PHILIPSBURG:---  Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) may be forced into hibernation for the next two months in keeping with the government’s island-wide measures to halt the spread of the deadly Coronavirus in the St. Maarten Community. This, however, is far from sitting back, Airport CEO, Mr. Brian Mingo, says. We are confident that our team of management and staff at PJIA will once again be using all the lessons learned from the past to ensure they come out of this latest disaster stronger and with a new sense of purpose. Our hibernation means, to conserve resources and work on fundamentals towards the back to business chapter


Mr. Mingo says PJIA has defined three major chapters in the handling of the Corona crisis:

I. The lockdown – Prepare, Protect & Stabilize the Airport (towards lockdown)
II. The Hibernation – Conserve, work smart and prepare for restart (during lockdown)
III. The Back to Business – Business recovery (after lockdown)

“This is not a promise, but fact,” articulated Mr. Mingo after briefing government on operational contingencies at PJIA, during a meeting of Parliament on Apr 1, 2020 02:00 PM
During the meeting, Mr. Mingo fielded questions on various developments, including the status of funding for the facility’s much-needed Airport Reconstruction Program. In the CEO’s briefing, however, an equally important focus during the meeting was his assurance to the government and the community that the Airport is being ably managed and will be able to ride the current storm thanks to the combined efforts of its personnel.

Mr. Mingo says due to forward-thinking on the part of the PJIA team and its Financing Partners. A provision was put in place with the World Bank, whereby a cash component was made for business continuity in the event of such a calamity as COVID-19. This has provided an important buffer to help the Airport so it can confidently continue with its reconstruction plans – despite the present business disruptions.

“This would not have been possible or possibly very difficult had we continued with funds from the commercial banking sector and not the World Bank and European Investment Bank,” said CEO Mr. Mingo.

“We have recently seen the passing of two stalwarts of PJIA, Mr. Larry Donker, and Mr. Kenneth Kong within the space of a few days. The spirit of their contribution to our success, I am happy to say, continues to this day and will takes us through this very difficult period for PJIA and for St. Maarten,” said Mr. Mingo.

pjiaeaerial04042020Mr. Mingo said PJIA will be using the next two months of hibernation wisely to take advantage of zero aircraft landing and taking off at the facility. While the hibernation period is initially for two months, contingencies have been put in place in the event things take a turn for the worse and the Airport facility has to remain on lockdown for six months or more.

“We have already closed the main Terminal and put that area into secured suspension to allow for a major cleaning and also to cut down on operational costs. In the meantime, operations are being focused on the FBO building,” which will be used for medical, relief and cargo flights, said Mr. Mingo.

He said new work schedules have been drawn up to utilize personnel who can work remotely on various projects and assignments – all while supporting government’s initiatives and measures aimed at taking the island through the current crisis with the least impact on human life and the economy as possible.

“I have expressed to everyone at PJIA what an amazing and “genius” team they are. They are not only an inspiration to the company and their families and loved ones but to the whole of St. Maarten,” continued Mr. Mingo.

He said his teams have been most supportive during the current crisis and are fully embracing the changes that are taking place at PJIA in these extraordinary times, pointing to the continuous work of the Coronavirus Task Force in implementing and surpassing government guidelines to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 disease at the Airport entry point. Thanks to this team, the Airport has been able to focus on all safety mitigations for staff and stakeholders, having secured Respiratory masks and protection glasses to keep front line staff safe.

“We may be going into hibernation, but we will definitely not be going to sleep at PJIAE, because we are going full steam ahead in keeping to our target of having the first phase of our newly constructed airport open by the original date of December 2021,” says Mr. Mingo.

He says he has spoken with his various teams about what, on the face, if it, seems to be an impossible task, however, everyone is in agreement that if a sound plan can be put in place to prioritize the opportunities that have presented themselves to schedule works during the hibernation period, then everything can be in place for immediate start of reconstruction works once the threat of COVID-19 is lifted from St. Maarten.

“During this hibernation period we, as Airport, can execute several business improvements plans and strategies for the new terminal to re-open since we have zero passengers and the work floor and tarmac is vacant. This has to be smart since there is zero money coming in also,” said the CEO, Mr. Mingo.

Our objective is to support the government to keep St Maarten healthy and safe for the people from St Maarten but also for its tourists and visitors. We attract tourism from the USA and Europe and tourists from these areas also want to be sure that St Maarten is a safe place to live and travel to.

Mr. Mingo says in order for PJIAE to have even half a chance of success, it is incumbent on everyone in the community, business, and individuals, to ensure they are playing their part in containing the Coronavirus by supporting government guidelines to the letter, also by working very closely with the Ministry of VSA since the outbreak of the Coronavirus threat. Also, remember that we are also depending on the status of both the USA and Europe how they will recover from this pandemic outbreak.

The Airport has assisted with the ordering of free donation of Protective N95 masks to VSA for distribution to medical personnel in the frontline of local containment fight and has offered to use its connections with Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands to fill further orders for personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies, however, Mr. Mingo urges others to also play their part and see what they can do to minimize the impact the current disruption on St. Maarten society will have in the coming months.

The Airport CEO continues to be thankful to the government for its support, most recently in giving the Airport team the opportunity to showcase the new Airport Terminal, as well as the Airport’s Crisis and Business Continuity Plan during a meeting of Parliament.

I understand that because of the importance of the Airport to the economy of St. Maarten it will get a lot of attention from government and the public, so the opportunity to highlight the steps we are taking to bridge this difficult period when we have no traffic is most welcomed,” continued Mr. Mingo.

The Airport chief is also thanking other partners and stakeholders, especially counterparts at Schiphol Airport who continue to provide support to PJIAE at several levels and will also play an important part in the rapid execution of reconstruction works once it has started.

“In the end, PJIA has demonstrated how resilient it can be and how professionally it handles its operations. We have managed to keep the Airport going even before this crisis with numbers at nearly 85% in cramped conditions using only a small portion of a damaged Terminal, so the personnel here know how to survive commercially,” said Mr. Mingo.

He says we are going into hibernation but “We have never been more awake. We continue to work actively to deliver on our promise to reconstruct the Airport and heading toward a light at the end of what is now a very dark tunnel with confidence and much positive hope for the future.”

“We are in this together,” ended the CEO, Mr. Mingo.

SHTA completes second report Covid19 fallout business survey, layoffs expected up to 47.8%.

PHILIPSBURG:--- The Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) completed a second report on its business-wide survey, including the input of 635 respondent companies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The number of survey respondents continued to climb, from 531 earlier this week for which our first report was based on 635 in our now final compilation. As all indicators by participants were toward significant decline without tourism arrivals. Our report was circulated to the Council of Ministers, Parliament and other governmental stakeholders. The survey now up to 635 companies, includes sole proprietors like taxi drivers to the largest employers on the island, represent a total labor force of 9293 employees as of March 14th, when the effects of the global Covid19 pandemic set in.
This data is representative of approximately 50% of the workforce not employed by Government, Semi-government and government-owned companies. Of that, it is anticipated that almost 50% will be laid-off. The association stresses for immediate actions and acute incentives to protect jobs and livelihoods.

Based on the joint figures of the respondents, it is assessed 6.3% of the private sector labor as of March 14th has already been laid off. 74.3% of the companies and non-governmental organizations stated that without outside help, extra layoffs will be inevitable and many SMEs are already considering closing their doors forever. According to the survey result, the reduction of the labor force would add up to 33.1 percent after 3 months, and 47.8 % after 6 months.

Based on data from the 2018 TEATT Business Survey this suggests that a total reduction to the national employed labor force employed by approximately 11,950 leaving over 7000 households without income. In this scenario, the government would experience a decrease in revenues of ANG 229 million from budgeted Employment Taxes and Business Taxes to their coffers, and much more that Government will have to pay out in social support for the unemployed.

The association considers these numbers alarming and asks for direct action and robust long term strategies. SHTA repeats its urgent call for a 90% payroll subsidy to be implemented immediately. This request has been a consistent stance of all business associations over the past month. This would allow the labor force to keep jobs, livelihood and the ability to pay for food, rent, water, and SZV coverage. By using employers, a proven channel remains in place without the need to reinvent the wheel; but more importantly, retains the economic backbone of the country and protects existing investment. Arguably a much better place from which to rebuild then with enormous unemployment with few companies left standing. In addition, it will continue to provide cash flows to the government.

For the Decision makers of Government, SHTA expects the numbers to speak for themselves. As the number of companies submitting entries is about a quarter of the Sint Maarten companies employing 50% of the non-Government and semi-Government employees; as described in the TEATT business survey of 2018, the association underlines the comprehensive representation of the sample – especially when taking into account the large employers and household count implicitly represented in the research.

Numbers were carefully reviewed and suggest that they can be of use for decision-makers in order to save people’s income and livelihoods. The 635 companies compiled their confidential information in less than one week. SHTA thanks fellow business associations Sint Maarten Marine Trades Association (SMMTA), Indian Merchants Association (IMA) and Sint Maarten Timeshare Association (SMTA) for swift assistance in spreading the request, as well as the many non-members sending in data. SHTA thanks its own membership for unprecedented compliance of 91% to its request, as well as the various policymakers requesting the information.


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