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“Open the Border” Protest Sparks Change Between Saint Martin and Sint Maarten

SAINT-MARTIN/SINT MAARTEN —Yesterday’s “open the border” protest in Saint Martin and Sint Maarten sparks change of plan for border control between the two sides of the island.  With a view to eliminate public disturbance, the Préfecture has decided to remove border controls that were in place to help stop the spread of the coronavirus disease COVID-19. 

This change came about due to the Prefecture of Saint Martin and St. Barths and the Public Health Agency ARS deciding on a favorable response to the organizers of the “open the border” march that was held on Wednesday.  

According to a press release statement yesterday evening, the Prefecture and ARS responded to the request for a hearing from the organizers of today’s demonstration.

The ARS reviewed the current health difficulties in Saint-Martin, number of cases, worrying indicators, particularly in terms of almost saturated hospital capacity (18 out of 23 beds occupied in covid unit and an additional death yesterday at Louis Constant Fleming hospital and 100 % CPR occupancy rate at Guadeloupe CHU).

Members of the Collective have not heard these arguments but have committed to contributing to the implementation of popular health education in the neighborhoods (wearing masks, gathering of people, social distancing…).

While it is proven that the regulation of population flows between the two parts of the island has contributed to a significant reduction in the circulation of the virus, the risk of disturbances to public order during a period of health crisis is not acceptable or for the population, neither for law enforcement agencies, which have been heavily demanded for months.

As a result, and as announced in the press conference on Monday, the Prefecture of Guadeloupe is studying the limitation of air flows to Grand Case which is expected to take place in the coming days (reduced flight number and conditioning of journeys on imperative grounds) ..

In view of the risks of disturbances to public order, the Prefecture decides to lift border checks. The removal of containers at Terres Basses and Oyster Baie will be done tomorrow.

Nevertheless, the health risk remains present on both parts of the island and the Prefecture invites everyone to respect the barriers measures to prevent spread. The containers in Cupecoy and Oyster Pond will be removed this Thursday.

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