The Bottom, Saba- The Public Entity Saba on Wednesday, March 18 decided to implement additional preventative measures which will go into effect on Thursday, March 19.
Essential businesses will remain open with new social distance practices. People are strongly encouraged to work and study from home if this is possible. All other non-essential businesses including schools, day care, after school programs and bars will be closed. All persons entering Saba will have to go into mandatory quarantine. The additional measures are a follow-up to the precautionary measures that were implemented on Monday, March 16.
Since Monday, less people have been coming to Saba and some residents are now in self-quarantine. Because of recent developments, it has been decided that more precautionary measures are to be introduced. While there are still no suspected or confirmed cases on Saba, government wants to continue to minimize the risk of introduction. Therefore, as of Thursday, March 19, closure for certain businesses, institutes and events will occur for a period of three weeks, until Thursday April 9, after the Easter Public Holidays. This will be done to help lessen the amount of social interaction occurring on the island. At the end of this period, the measures well be reassessed.
Businesses and services
Government Services which have direct interaction with the public will remain open, including the Census and the Receiver’s offices. Others services such as waste management, garbage collection, road sweeping and construction will continue uninterrupted. Based on the new travel restrictions, implemented by St. Maarten, airport services may become limited.
The hospital will be open for emergency services only. For more information on this, please contact the hospital directly. The Home for the elderly, where many of the most vulnerable members of Saba’s population reside, will no longer be open for all visitors. Instead only the designated caretaker will be allowed to be in contact with the residents.
Other services such as grocery stores, the pharmacy, Saba Electric Company, Satel, financial services, such as the RBC Bank and accounting firms, the gas station, construction companies, hardware stores, mechanical services and accommodations will all continue. Restaurants can remain open, but only for take-out or delivery services. All bars and nights clubs will be required to close. Local bakeries may continue to supply their products to the grocery stores, but may not offer any other services.
Cargo services will also continue and at this point are not expected to be affected. There is currently a surplus of food supply on the island, and government therefore strongly encourages residents to NOT over-purchase regular products or medicines.
Schools and Day Care
Schools, Day Care and after school programs will be closed for the next three weeks. The Easter Holiday will be in the week of April 6 to April 9. While the school will be closed for students beginning tomorrow, teachers will be required to use Thursday March 19and Friday March 20 to prepare packages for their students which can be used for continued learning purposes. The Queen Wilhelmina Library will be closed as well. The Day Care center will also be closed to the general public. Parents who need to carry out their regular work schedule are encouraged to find a caretaker to care for their children at home, in order to continue to limit social interaction.
For the businesses and services which will remain open, government requests that they practice social distancing by implementing shift schedules and working from home whenever possible. People are encourage to utilize online banking to make payments or pay bills when able to. Government wants to minimalize crowd gatherings as much as possible. “If there is no urgent need for you to be out in areas where these occur, please adhere to this measure to help us ensure that these preventative measures are effective,” stated Island Governor Jonathan Johnson.
In addition to these measures, effective Thursday March 19, all persons coming to Saba, regardless of their country of origin and destination, will have to go in mandatory quarantine. Exempted from this are returning medical personnel and persons who are responsible for transporting cargo to and from Saba.
“Please keep in mind that this is an ever-changing situation, which is not only affecting us but also our regional partners and the world. The environment and situation around us continue to rapidly evolve meaning we have to adjust our measures and the information that is being communicated to the public to reflect this,” stated Johnson, who assured residents that government will continue to update them accordingly when there are new developments.
People are asked to continue to remain informed via the Government Information Services. “We realize that some of the measures will have implications and will inconvenience many. However, we strongly advise you to comply with them. As a government and as a society we all have a responsibility to ensure that we do all that we can to keep COVID-19 from entering our island,” Johnson said.