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Statement by Island Governor Edison Rijna on January 8th

Kralendijk – Dear People,

The number of active COVID-19 cases has risen to a 100 today. This is terrifying. I am aware that many people among our population are concerned about this and that is why I am addressing you via this statement.

The numbers have been able to rise because, unfortunately, not everyone has been following the rules. On the other hand, recently more people have been tested as well. I am happy about that because it does give us a better picture of all the active cases on Bonaire. We are, however, taking into account that the numbers may continue to rise.

Currently the Public Health Department is still busy tracing all contacts and sources of contamination for the infected persons. So we do not yet know whether all cases are related to the clusters that were already known to us. In addition, we have also identified new clusters such as the El Tronco snack.

In view of the 100 cases we have today, it has been decided to take new measures in order to prevent large groups of people from gathering together. We are doing this as a precautionary measure in order to protect everyone.

The Public Prosecution Service has informed me that commencing tomorrow they will be taking severe action against people who gather in large groups. The time for just issuing warnings and appealing to people who get together in crowds is over. Anyone who does not follow the rules will be fined. This also applies to establishments and companies that do not follow the rules.

Keep in mind that we are monitoring the situation daily. If the number of cases continues to rise and we no longer have a clear view of the sources of contamination, stricter measures will be taken immediately.

From tomorrow, Saturday, 9 January, 2021, onwards it is only permitted for people from a maximum of two households to get together in a private setting at home or in a public space.

At professional events, only 50% of the available space may be used and a maximum of 25 people may be present. For professional events a permit must be applied for and obtained in advance. All people who are present must be registered and it is not permitted to dance or sing.

At hospitality establishments, a maximum of 4 people are allowed at each table (children under 13 years old are not included in the count). Venues must only use 50% of their capacity, all visitors must be seated in fixed seats and the establishment must close at 10 p.m.

Shops may remain open but a maximum of two people per household may enter together to do their shopping. It remains possible to hold church services or masses, but we strongly advise that only 50% of the capacity should be used. Everyone must be seated 1.5 meters apart from each other. Since some people have become infected with the virus while at church, all churchgoers are urged not to sing during the service or mass. We also strongly advise everyone to go home immediately after the mass or service has ended.

Sports matches and competitions are not permitted and everyone has to go home immediately after any sports practice. Gyms may stay open, provided they adhere to the strict rules of the agreements made with them.

Everyone is urged to work from home as much as possible. Employees in contact professions such as hairdressers, nail technicians and physiotherapists must wear a face mask.

Discotheques and brothels will remain closed. Casinos, movie theatres and saunas may remain open because there is not as much interpersonal contact in casinos, movie theatres and saunas, as there is when people who know each other get together at home. However, these establishments are only allowed to admit 50% of the people who would be permitted normally.

All schools and child care facilities will remain open. At school and in child care facilities, adults must stay 1.5 meters away from each other.

As always, I would like to emphasize the importance of keeping 1.5 meters distance from others, washing your hands regularly and coughing and sneezing into your elbow. Now that we have 100 active cases of COVID-19 on Bonaire everyone must take responsibility and comply with the rules in order to prevent the virus from spreading among us further.

I reiterate: the time for issuing warnings is over; it is now up to us to avoid endangering each other. I emphasize again: comply with the widely-known measures and confront people who do not obey the rules. For our part, the Supervision and Enforcement Directorate, together with the Dutch Caribbean Police Force will carry out checks and they will fine anyone who does not comply with the rules.

Be a responsible citizen and take good care of yourself and of others.

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