Vaccines to arrive in Sint Maarten: ‘better info campaign needed’

PHILIPSBURG – The impending arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine on St Maarten has divided the community. Some islanders are positive they want the vaccine and believe it will offer the solution for them to regain the freedoms lockdown and isolation took away. There are others who remain hesitant and uncertain, doubting that a vaccine developed in such a short space of time could be safe. Dr James Young, one of the pastors at the St Maarten Bible Baptist Church on Arch Road says he will gladly take

Local musicians bring Christmas cheer to hospital patients and staff

PHLIPSBURG – Every week day from mid December until Christmas Eve, socially distanced musicians serenaded SMMC’s patients and staff from the open-air patio. Music drifted down the wards and floated around the hospital allowing staff and visitors to enjoy the entertainment from wherever they were. Musicians came from The St Maarten Chamber Orchestra (string section), students from National Institute of Arts performed songs from their latest musical Hamilton, Dow’s Musical Foundation, SDA Sunshin

Local community gives gifts to most vulnerable

PHILIPSBURG – With job losses, redundancies and reduced income, the covid-19 pandemic could severely dampen the Christmas spirit for many vulnerable children, adults and the elderly in St Maarten. To help ease the numerous financial pressures some will be feeling this Christmas, The K1 Britannia Foundation is spreading winter warmth and seasonal smiles through their Christmas Angels program. Vulnerable children, adults, the elderly and households affected by the covid-19 pandemic are being give

Coronavirus Exacerbates Homelessness on St Maarten

PHILIPSBURG – Homeless people are experiencing greater health risks and some claim less assistance is available to them as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge. A recent report into Covid-19 in the Caribbean by the United Nations expresses concerns that ‘Homeless people are overexposed to the risk of contracting COVID-19 because of their lack of housing, food and access to health-care services.’ There are a number of housing facilities on the island that work to provide a roof over the hea

Swimming ban after shark attack: ‘the ban only creates unnecessary fear’

PHILIPSBURG – A 38-year-old French tourist, on a sabbatical year in Saint-Martin, died of her injuries after sustaining multiple shark bites. The attack happened approximately 150 meters from the shore of Orient Beach on the French side of Saint Martin at around 2.30 pm on Thursday, December 10. Onlookers report two other women were with her when the attack took place and cries of ‘shark!’ could be heard from the shore. Ephrame Ollivierre has fished in St Maarten waters for many years and spec

Protests against rumored dolphinarium, government denies water rights

PHILIPSBURG – Over 100 protestors joined the Dolphin Defenders on Maho Beach, St Maarten at the weekend to demonstrate against rumoured plans for a dolphinarium at the hotel development at Burgeaux Bay, Beacon Hill. Two days after the protest Minister of VROMI Egbert Doran denied Alegria Real Estate NV (Alegria) rights to the water surrounding the hotel development saying his decision was ‘in the best interest of the people of Sint Maarten’. Dolphin Defenders organised the protest after the Cou

Residents living near Sint Maarten’s dump have to move

PHILIPSBURG – The dump and surrounding land that overlooks Philipsburg in St Maarten is home to almost two hundred people that live in shacks and shipping containers. The Dutch Government allocated funds to redevelop this landfill after Hurricane Irma, but work can not begin until parts of this community are relocated. The National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) is set to upgrade the debris storage and municipal disposal sites. They aim to improve solid waste management practices, increase oper

14 nurses quarantined after resident and staff test positive for Covid-19

PHILIPSBURG – The Sint Martin’s Home is Dutch St Maarten’s only residential care home for the elderly run by White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF). Yesterday, they confirmed that two staff members and one resident have contracted the coronavirus and as a result 14 nurses have been placed into quarantine. Since these nurses have not been able to work employees have been working over-time and extra staff on call are making up the shortfall. The infected resident was admitted into St.Maa

176 active Covid19 cases in St. Maarten: Corona spike provokes business closures

PHILIPSBURG – Less than 24 hours notice for a two week shut down was given to nightclubs, bars, coffee houses and adult entertainment venues in St Maarten on Saturday. These businesses have been ordered to close from Sunday 16th August until Monday 31st August 2020. St Maarten has reached a grim milestone with 176 active Coronavirus cases as of August 15th. Ludmila de Weever, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) describes the significant increase in act

Protest at Saint Martin border: ‘you are basically blocking us from living’

PHILIPSBURG – The yellow, blue, red and green Unity Flag of St Martin island was held aloft by protestors marching against the controls, restrictions and closures at the French-Dutch border on Saturday morning. Around 100 protestors marched towards Dutch-side Cole Bay from Bellevue on the French side. They walked along RN7 to the control point located approximately 100 yards from the French-Dutch border, operated by a dozen French gendarmes. In response to the decision to open Dutch St. Maarten

SXM opens to the US: ’70 persons’ tested at airport

PHILIPSBURG – On August 1st the St Maarten Government opened Princess Juliana Airport to US tourists under what they describe as a ‘strict protocol’. Passengers are instructed to complete an online health declaration and submit a negative COVID-19 (PCR) test completed maximum 72 hours before travelling to St. Maarten. Out of 700 passengers who arrived over the weekend, 70 were tested for Coronavirus before leaving the airport terminal. All tests were negative. Testing at the airport is part of

The Wasteland In Paradise

Fourteen meter high dusty mounds sit in the middle of St Maarten's Great Salt Pond. They are not one of the natural features of the island of St Maarten. Sixty years ago, these mounds were a small dumping ground of trash at the side of the path that crossed the Salt Pond. These insignificant trash piles have grown into an island of reclaimed land and waste spanning close to one square kilometer. All of Pond Island is government land, as such, one side is home to various government entities. Thi

The ever-changing adventure of trying to return home to Sint Maarten

PHILIPSBURG – Just landed in Sint Maarten. It took a while and an effort, but finally, I’m back home! Remember when we were told the shut-down would just be a few weeks? Governments around the world issued short term plans and promises and we begrudgingly accepted the disruption this pandemic brought. At this time, I was studying in the UK and due to return to Sint Maarten on March 27th. Ten days after international borders to Sint Maarten closed. I waited. Week one to three; eagerly… weeks thr