Radio Broadcast by Marnix van Rij: Update on COVID-19 situation on St. Eustatius

On Tuesday, March 31st, I had the duty to confirm to you that St. Eustatius had our first 2 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus. Two people were tested, and their results came back showing that they did indeed have the Covid-19 virus.

Those people are currently in isolation as I mentioned on the radio on the 31st of March. They will be tested regularly and only let out of isolation when their tests confirm they are Covid-19 virus free.

The current numbers regarding St. Eustatius Covid-19 virus status are the following:

Self Quarantined: 24

Isolation: 2

Tested to date: 16

Positive (confirmed Covid-19): 2

Negative (no Covid-19): 8  

Pending (waiting for result): 6

As of this evening, April 3rd, I signed a new Emergency Ordinance into effect. This is the third Emergency Ordinance since March 18th. We promised you, the people of St. Eustatius, that we would look daily at the evolution of the Covid-19 virus locally, regionally and nationally and react according to necessity. The new ordinance Emergency Ordinance will remain in force until the date it is revoked. This will be on April 14th or earlier if possible. Before the 14th we will reassess the situation on the island. This third upscaling of St. Eustatius’ State of Emergency was considered important due to the evolving situation of the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide and locally.

New measures, concerning non-essential businesses have also been taken and are effective as of this evening, April 3rd, 2020.

Limited amount of people to be in supermarkets and convenience stores at any one time, 5 in small shops (including employees) 15 in larger supermarket like Duggins (including employees). Customers must respect 1.5 meter distance from other shoppers when in shop and while waiting to go into shop.

  • Bars closed
  • Restaurants closed (except take-out and delivery service)
  • Bakeries closed (except take-out and delivery service)
  • Casino closed
  • Night clubs and other dance establishments closed
  • Adult entertainment establishments closed
  • Recreational centers closed
  • Gyms and other indoor and outdoor facilities closed
  • Museum closed
  • Nail and hairdressers closed
  • Barber shops closed
  • Conference facilities closed
  • Outdoor establishments that accommodate events closed

Most of the supermarkets, convenience stores and shops have already started their own hygiene protocol. We really appreciate your pro-active approach in helping curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus. You will also notice that some businesses have voluntarily closed their doors. We appreciate how difficult this is for businesses. These are unheard of times whose consequences will only be known in hindsight.

We also have enough gasoline and cash on our island and do not expect shortages.

Unlike some of the other islands we have decided not to enforce a curfew now because our residents are acting so responsibly. This shows how seriously you are all taking the situation and how responsible you are. It is heartwarming. It also takes a lot of pressure off of our police and fire department. Thank you for that.

We would also like to reassure you that your local Government is doing its best to serve you to the same level as you are used to. We are doing this by telephone and online. Please do not come to the government offices but call us at 318-2552, I repeat: call us at 318-2552 and we will advise you on how to proceed with your request.

I would like to add that I know people are afraid of this new development. We know these are extraordinary times. We are, therefore, taking extraordinary measures to do our best to keep this virus contained. Please also know that we monitor all social media and are aware of our population’s concerns and fears. We are making our decisions based on fact, specialist advice (local, regional and national) and not on impulse or as a reaction to public pressure. This is not the time to take gut decisions. The decisions we are faced with are crucial and need to be made after weighing many arguments and made in a consensual way. Our Emergency Structure Team (EBT) is also meeting regularly. We are all working closely together.

On a personal note I want to refer to the fact that in the Christian faith, we are entering the Holy Week which is the week before Easter. This year, Holy week starts on Sunday April 5th. Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, marks the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ and his Disciples into Jerusalem. The rest of the week is sacred as it remembers what happened to Jesus Christ. Holy week was one of triumph, betrayal, murder and ultimately resurrection. It was an epic week. A week which pushed people to the limit of endurance. A week which remains engraved in history. It seems, that this week in Statia is also trying us and testing our faith and resilience. Whether you are Christian or not it is clear that we are being supremely tested. Please continue to have faith in yourselves, your church elders and in us, your local government.

As our Deputy Government Commissioner Alida Francis mentioned on the radio yesterday, this rare event is one which affects all of us equally. It brings us closer together by making us put aside differences of race in order to unite in the face of adversity. Other prominent Statians have voiced the same message and for that we are very grateful.

Have faith that we will be able to get through these trying times with grace and come out as united Statians standing Stronger Together.

In hope,

I remain your faithful Government Commissioner,

Marnix van Rij