Bon tardi everyone,
We are going through difficult times right now. The numbers of COVID-19 infections are still rising on our island, while at the same time we are preparing for the end-of-year holidays. It is important for each of us to be able to celebrate these holidays with our family and friends. This period is also very important for the economy of our island. It is high season and we are expecting many tourists to visit.
On the one hand the holidays are coming up and on the other hand the number of COVID infections continues to rise, just as in the rest of the world. In practice it appears that the vaccines work very well against hospital admissions, but we also see that fully vaccinated people can still become infected and pass the virus on to others.
Fundashon Mariadal is doing everything it can to provide us with the proper care. The Public Health Department does its utmost to provide testing to everyone who needs it, and on top of that it conducts all source and contact tracing as well.
The increasing number of infections results in our healthcare staff having to do their jobs under increasing pressure. Due to the high number of infections, the Public Health Department is forced to alter how it conducts its source and contact tracing. Infected persons are now responsible for informing their close contacts themselves. These contacts must then go ahead and enter quarantine on their own initiative if they have been at risk of infection.
Today we have 210 active coronavirus cases. Of the latest infections, 50% of the infection sources are unknown. The Public Health Department has noticed that people who have symptoms or who were in close contact with an infected person do not always go to get tested. I truly regret this very much, because now there are infected children and adults walking around who can pass on the virus unnoticed.
In recent weeks, the Public Health Department has also noticed that the virus mainly spreads in spaces where there is limited fresh air, such as at school or at work. Fortunately, there are not many people hospitalized at the moment, but in view of the increasing figures, the hospital may fill up quickly again.
If we want to stop the virus from spreading further, we will need to take measures. We can stop the spread if we reduce the number of contacts between people. This is the reason why I have decided to implement certain new measures. These measures will come into effect on Saturday, 27 November and will apply until Monday, 3 January. Obviously, we will continue to check whether they are still appropriate to the situation and we will adjust any measures should the circumstances call for it.
I urgently request all employers to have their employees work from home as much as possible, and to ensure that this is feasible for them as well. There are many infections in schools, even though they are doing their utmost to keep the number as low as possible. For example, schools are working with fixed groups in the classrooms and contact between teachers and parents is avoided as much as possible. In addition, the classrooms are regularly ventilated.
Together with the schools, it has been decided that 17 December will be the last day of school this year.
I would like to ask everyone to receive their visitors outdoors for the foreseeable future; this could be on the porch, for example. The maximum number of people that is allowed to get together at home or, for example, on the beach or kunuku is 10, and this includes people from the same household.
From Saturday 27 November it will be mandatory to wear face masks in public indoor areas. People in a contact profession must also wear face masks from Saturday onwards.
I would like to say the following about organized events. It is allowed to organize events with a maximum of 100 people. Events may only take place outdoors. It is no longer allowed for the public to dance or sing during an event. These are high-risk activities that are not appropriate for the current serious situation.
The same applies to the hospitality sector, it is no longer allowed for the public to sing or dance inside or outside a venue. At events as well as in the hospitality sector, everyone must have a designated seat.
Sports events are allowed to take place, but the public is not allowed to attend if the event is indoors. If it is outdoors, 50% of the spectator capacity may be filled.
In the coming days we will be sending out invitations to the hospitality sector, event organizers and sports organizations in order to discuss this in more depth.
From 27 November onwards, it will be mandatory for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to go into quarantine if they have been in contact with an infected person or an infected member of their household. In this way, we are following the new RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) guidelines. After five days of quarantine, a person in quarantine may undergo a test at the Public Health Department. If the result is negative they may leave quarantine, but a person who tests positive must -of course- remain in isolation at home and follow the Public Health Department’s recommendations.
Employers may contact SZW Social & Health Insurance to receive compensation for people who are in mandatory quarantine or who are infected.
Changes to the entry conditions will take effect on 30 November. From then on, fully vaccinated people traveling to Bonaire may choose whether to take an antigen test 24 hours before departure, or a PCR test 48 hours before departure. Travelers who are not or not fully vaccinated must do a PCR test 48 hours in advance. At this moment, it is still possible for fully vaccinated travelers to come to Bonaire from the sister islands without undergoing a test.
Finally, I would like to address the people who have not been vaccinated. Be aware that you are especially vulnerable if you are not vaccinated. In fact, if you have a medical condition and are not vaccinated, you are doubly vulnerable. I advise you, therefore, to avoid groups of people. Please keep this in mind and take good care of yourselves.
I would like to ask everyone to keep one and a half meters distance from others at all times. If you want to meet your friends and family, do this in the open air. We all would like to spend happy holidays with our loved ones and this will only be possible if we all adhere to the rules.