PHILIPSBURG:--- The Prime Minister Hon. Silveria Jacobs chair of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Tuesday, March 24 took the decision to no longer allow vessels in the Simpson Bay Lagoon to continue to conduct fuel bunkering and provisioning activities as of midnight Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
The aforementioned can only take place where the vessel is already docked at a facility that provides such at a marina or docking location.
“It was brought to the attention of the EOC on Tuesday that procedures were not being followed in accordance to the directives that were stated before in order to protect the external borders of the country.
“Due to the non-compliance, vessels who require fuel bunkering and food provisioning will have to do this at Port St. Maarten which has a sterile port protocol in place.
“The current COVID-19 situation dictates that vessels and or third parties have to follow the rules that have been set in these extraordinary times. Government has a responsibility to protect the safety and health of the people of Sint Maarten.
“The country is in a partial lockdown and therefore measures have been taken as part of our preparedness, response and mitigation measures towards COVID-19, and to ensure this the rules will have to be complied with and I am sure that those concerned will also agree with me,” Prime Minister Hon. Silveria Jacobs said on Tuesday.
The travel restrictions for shippers and mariners went into effect as of March 24th 11:59pm American Standard Time. After this date NO Foreign Vessels (exemptions applied) will be allowed in the territorial waters of Sint Maarten until further notice.
This includes but is not limited to; Pleasure vessels, Fishing vessels, Passenger Vessels, Huckster boats, Mega Yachts, Sailing Yachts, Catamarans, etc.
Applicable Exemptions are as follows:
1. Locally registered leisure vessels are permitted to operate in the waters of Sint Maarten providing that there are four (4) or less persons (including captain) on board.
2. Fishing vessels from Saba and St. Eustatius are allowed entry into the territorial waters of Sint Maarten BUT should contact the Immigration Department prior to arrival.
3. Other trade between Sint Maarten, SABA and St. Eustatius that takes place via water transport will be evaluated on a case by case basis.
4. Large Cargo vessels, Bulk carriers, Bunker Barges/-vessels will be allowed only if the relevant procedures are followed and approval is given by the pertinent authorities who will closely monitor these activities to ensure their adherence.
5. Bunkering and or provisioning may ONLY be permitted for vessels of 500GT and larger that are passing through Sint Maarten on-route to another destination. This service will only be made available at Port St. Maarten where each request will be evaluated on a case by case basis. At no time are crew or captain allowed to leave the vessel. Bunkering and or provisioning will NOT be allowed to take place at the other marinas or docking locations on island unless the vessel is already docked at a facility that provides such. ‘Social Distancing’ should always be adhered to.
6. Locally registered passenger vessels including ferries may be used by the company and or owners for personal use only and cease all commercial activities until further notice.
Conditions attached to the abovementioned exemptions are:
• The local (maritime) authorities of Sint Maarten reserve the rights to deny a vessel entry that they may deem a threat to the island.
• Vessel Operators are reminded to contact the office of the Collective Prevention Service (CPS) via the emergency number 914 or VHF Channel 16 if any crew members or persons onboard their vessel are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
• Vessels are required to submit a copy of their Maritime Heath Declaration 48 hours prior to their arrival to the department of Collective and Prevention Services. Late submittal of the declarations can result in delays or entry denials. Note that entry will only be granted after approval of the Maritime Health Declaration by CPS officials and other relevant authorities such as the Immigration Department.
• Vessel Agents and Marina’s will remain responsible for providing shore support to these vessels while ensuring that crew and or staff adhere to the current restrictions.
• All crew members and captains that are allowed entry, as a result of the exemptions, will be required to remain on their vessels as much as possible and practice ‘social distancing’ when and where necessary. ‘Shore-Leave’ is prohibited.
• Effective immediately, the CREW of all vessels that are currently anchored in our bays or docked at any of the local marinas on island, are requested to remain onboard of their vessels for the duration of the travel restrictions that are currently in place for both air and sea travel. ‘Shore Leave’ is prohibited.
• Local vessel agents and other support services will remain responsible for providing ‘shore-support’ to vessels that choose to remain anchored or docked in the waters of Sint Maarten. They are asked to ensure that their clients and the relevant crew comply with to the above listed conditions.
Compliance with the above-mentioned list is mandatory and violators will be processed to the full extent of the laws of Sint Maarten.
The transmission of the COVID-19 virus is a serious threat to the island of Sint Maarten and anyone who refuses to comply with before mentioned measures can be deemed to be a prohibited alien (non-resident that is not allowed to be on the island).
The Government of Sint Maarten looks forward to the understanding and full cooperation of the maritime community as everybody has a role to play during these extraordinary times.
Listen to the Government Radio station – 107.9FM - for official information, and news updates or visit the Government website: www.sintmaartengov.org/coronavirus or and Facebook Page: Facebook.com/SXMGOV