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Welcome to the crisis website of the Public Entity Bonaire. This website is online when there is a crisis. That is why you can now find all information about COVID-19 on this website.

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Q&A’s residents

Last update: 19 October 2020

This information is compiled by the Public Entity of Bonaire, in cooperation with the department of Public Health. This overview will be kept as up to date as possible.

Developments with respect to COVID-19 are unpredictable, and therefore, circumstances can change. Please keep an eye out for our press releases via Facebook (Openbaar Lichaam Bonaire) and other Bonaire news outlets.

No rights can be derived from the information in this FAQ overview. 

Households

No events may be organized or attended until the end of October. I have been invited to a wedding, may I go?

The Emergency Ordinance that is in effect until October 31 makes an exception for weddings, provided that there are no more than 10 people present and that the people present can maintain a 1.5 meter distance from each other at all times. For all other exceptions see Article 7 of the Emergency Ordinance of September 30, 2020. https://www.bonairecrisis.com/en/emergency-regulation/

What are the rules for people attending mass or a service of worship?

The current Emergency Ordinance is valid until November 1, 2020. This Emergency Ordinance prohibits gatherings and events, but makes an exception for churches and services of worship. A maximum of 50 people may be present in churches and during services of worship. It is not allowed to sing during mass or services. For more information about the ban on gatherings, see Article 7 of the Emergency Ordinance on: https://www.bonairecrisis.com/noodverordening/

Companies

I have a carpentry business, are my construction workers allowed to work?

Construction is important for our economy. That is why construction work is continuing as usual. Hardware stores may remain open. It is important that construction workers maintain a 1.5 meter distance from each other even when they are working in the open air.

Am I responsible for my customer’s behavior when they are in my store?

You should operate on the principle that the measures you put in place should make it so that your customers have to behave in a Covid-proof way. More information: https://www.bonairecrisis.com/en/measures/

Do the companies producing and supplying electricity and water have an emergency plan in place in case they have to operate with less people, due to the corona situation?

Yes, contingency plans have been made to ensure that the production and supply of electricity and water remains uninterrupted, even if the situation should occur that essential posts cannot be filled at all, or just partly, due to infections. We are mainly focusing on preventing these types of situations, not just alleviating the consequences of them.

What are the rules that businesses have to adhere to?

Businesses may open provided the workspace is arranged in such a way that it complies with the rules of the Public Health Department. This means that employees must be able to keep a distance of 1.5 meters from each other. If it is not possible to keep a distance of 1.5 meters from each other, face masks must be worn. In addition, businesses must adhere to the rules concerning hygiene. Supplementary rules may apply to specific lines of business. For more information see the site: https://www.bonairecrisis.com/en/measures/ and the document Measures for companies.

What are the rules for stores?

Stores must also adhere to the rules set by the Public Health Department.
Most importantly this means: ensuring that people can keep a distance of 1.5 meters from each other, correcting them if they do not do so and introducing a door policy preventing too many people being inside at the same time. Since circumstances are different for different stores, store keepers are expected to establish their own door policy.
Stores may also require customers to wear face masks and use hand sanitizer. This is not imposed by the government; store keepers may determine this for themselves. For more information visit: https://www.bonairecrisis.com/en/measures/

What are the rules the hospitality sector needs to comply with in order to open?

The rules for the hospitality sector are: • There have to be predetermined seats;
• Only half of the number of seats on the premises may be used. A maximum of 50 people may be present at one time, including the staff;
• While on the premises everyone must keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters from the person closest to them at all times;
• Everyone must adhere to strict hygiene rules determined by the Public Health Department Bonaire;
• A record must be kept of the guests and guests must answer a few questions about their health. Names and contact details (phone number or e-mail address) must be noted. This is necessary to facilitate contact or source tracing should it be required at a later date. These records must be kept for a minimum of 14 and a maximum of 21 days. Guest privacy must be respected. Therefore, these records must be stored in such a way that guest privacy is protected at all times;
• Hospitality establishments must close no later than 10:00 p.m. • For more information visit: https://www.bonairecrisis.com/en/measures/

What are the requirements for offices?

• In the office people must adhere to the rules of the Public Health Department.
• It has become evident that offices are currently the largest sources of infection on Bonaire. It is, therefore, recommended to work from home.
• Employees must keep a distance of 1.5 meters from each other and wash their hands regularly with soap and water. If they cannot keep sufficient distance from their colleagues, employees must wear face masks . Office areas must be aired for 20 minutes at least twice a day.

Why are casinos not allowed to open?

Casinos host a lot of people who do not stay in the same spot. They move around a lot, which increases the risk of infections.

All establishments may open again, except gyms. Why can’t gyms open under the same conditions?

Because the risk of spreading the virus is increased when people exercise indoors. When exercising, people breathe in and out more vigorously and more deeply. In addition, people in gyms move about a lot, which makes the risk of the virus spreading larger than in other places.

May businesses require visitors to wear face masks?

Yes, business owners may decide for themselves which EXTRA rules they want to implement. It is, however, important to ensure face masks are used properly. Instructions on how to use a face mask correctly you will find on: https://www.bonairecrisis.com/en/communication/ in the document: Advice on face masks.

How do I calculate how many customers may enter my business premises?

Work on the assumption that every customer takes up approximately 10 m2 floor space in your store. For example, your store is 10 meters by 15 meters so the floor surface is 150 m2. In this case a maximum of 15 customers are allowed in your store at the same time. The business owners themselves are responsible for ensuring that they have the right number of customers on their premises.
Not all stores are set up or used in the same way. The Supervision and Enforcement Directorate can provide advice in this matter. For more information call 0800-0800 or 717-4800.

What is a door policy?

This is a policy in which a business determines for example: how many people are allowed to be on the premises at the same time; how people should enter and leave the premises; what the hygiene rules are; how people are expected to pay; and -if necessary- how customers are registered. This may be different for different places of business. You may find more about this at: https://www.bonairecrisis.com/en/measures/ in the document: Health check for catering and contact professions.

How is it checked that the corona rules are being followed at places of business?

The staff, supervisors and owners of the buildings are responsible to ensure the rules are adhered to. It is not possible to monitor every single place on a daily basis. The Supervision and Enforcement Directorate may take action if the rules in public spaces are not complied with. Where offices are concerned the Labor Inspectorate may take action.

What happens if someone at a restaurant, for instance, does not want their details to be recorded? May the restaurant management refuse entry to such a person?

Yes that is allowed. A business in the hospitality sector must make clear what the rules are at the entrance. One of those rules is that visitors’ data is recorded.

For how long could establishments in the hospitality sector and businesses be closed down, if they do not comply with the rules?

The inspectors of the Supervision and Enforcement Directorate and the Dutch Caribbean Police Force (KPCN) may decide to temporarily close a business in the hospitality sector if it does not comply with the rules. In such cases the business may reopen when it is ready to comply with the rules again. The duration of closure depends on which rules were violated. If a business repeatedly breaks the rules its license may be revoked.

For how long could establishments in the hospitality sector and businesses be closed down, if they do not comply with the rules?

The inspectors of the Supervision and Enforcement Directorate and the Dutch Caribbean Police Force (KPCN) may decide to temporarily close a business in the hospitality sector if it does not comply with the rules. In such cases the business may reopen when it is ready to comply with the rules again. The duration of closure depends on which rules were violated. If a business repeatedly breaks the rules its license may be revoked.

How are stores and the hospitality sector monitored?

Inspectors from the Supervision and Enforcement Directorate and police officers from KPCN carry out inspections.

Why do establishments in the hospitality sector have to close at 10 p.m.? Is the virus more active after 10 p.m.?

No, the virus is not more active after 10 p.m. But it is a fact that the later it gets, the more lax people are about the rules. When people stay longer, they may become more relaxed and may consume more alcohol. In these situations people may neglect to keep 1.5 meters distance from each other. To prevent this, establishments in the hospitality sector must close at 10 p.m.

What does the hospitality-sector health check entail?

A health check in the hospitality sector requires people to first answer questions before they are allowed in. This is done to ascertain whether any customer has coronavirus-related symptoms: to ascertain whether a person has been tested and is still waiting for the result; or to determine whether someone should actually be in isolation because they are infected. It may even be possible that a person who wants to enter should -in fact- be quarantined. If someone answers one of the questions with a “Yes”, that person will not be allowed in and will be urged to go home. See also: https://www.bonairecrisis.com/measures/

At many snacks, customers do not adhere to the obligatory rule of social distancing by keeping 1.5 meters away from each other. How is this being checked and controlled?

It is the responsibility of snack owners and their customers to obey the rules. The inspectors from the Supervision and Enforcement Directorate and the police are on the road patrolling all the time. They try to reach as many people as possible and point out to them that they have to keep a distance of 1.5 meters from each other and they also make sure that they do so.

Not all churches respect the maximum permitted number of visitors they are allowed, even though they are required to do so. How is this being checked and controlled?

The inspectors of the Supervision and Enforcement Directorate frequently have talks with various churches to discuss their services, masses and activities. All churches are expected to adhere to the agreements and take measures to prevent the virus from spreading.

Schools and organizations

The schools remain open. How about schools providing adult education?

It is important that we all try to limit physical and social contact as much as possible. So stay at home as much as possible. Adult education may continue if it is done remotely.

The schools are open. Are after-school childcare facilities also open?

Pre-school and after-school childcare may remain open. An exception has been made for these facilities, provided that the prescribed hygiene requirements are observed.

I hear from some parents that they are not sending their children to school because they are afraid of infection. What is the best course of action for me and my child?

The schools remain open. Your child should continue to attend school. Research has shown that it is rare for children to infect each other at school. Teachers adhere to specific rules in order to prevent infection. Teachers keep a 1.5 meter distance from each other. In secondary education they also keep their distance from the students.

How many people have to get infected before tough measures are introduced and the schools are closed?

The Public Health Department continually assesses whether the current measures are sufficient to safeguard everyone. We evaluate all situations, including those in schools. In view of the fact that the risk of students spreading the virus is small, schools will only be closed when the situation is extremely serious. Closing down schools is indeed a serious measure. As long as it is safe to keep the schools open, the Public Health Department will advise to do so. The Public Health Department will only advise to close the schools in a situation when a complete lockdown is being considered. We cannot be sure exactly how many infections will merit this; it will depend on the situation. The Public Health Department needs to remain flexible in order to provide appropriate advice, as there may be other issues at play that cannot be foreseen. Moreover, it is the Governor who makes such decisions, Public Health only provides advice.

Why can’t we continue schooling by providing the lessons virtually (education at a distance)? We have the modern technology to do so. At the moment only the children are taken into account, but what about the teachers and their health? Is it also taken into consideration that they are at risk when they are in the classroom?

Education is not only teaching and being taught. The school is a place where children meet each other and other adults, not related to them. School is important for the well-being of children. It is a place where children can develop socially and emotionally in an environment that is different to their homes. That is why it is important to continue education in schools as long as possible. And, of course, as long as it is responsible and safe for the students and teachers. Needless to say we also consider the health of the teachers. If it would not be safe for them we would not keep the schools open. The risk that a student would infect a teacher at school is really very small. It is true that teachers can infect each other but if they keep sufficient distance from one and other and adhere to the hygiene measures – just as it is done in other workplaces- there is no increased risk for them.

There are now also teachers who have tested positive. If the schools are under pressure, what will happen then?

When someone tests positive we carefully check where that infection occurred and if the teacher had worked in school while they were already infected. If the teacher in question had been in close contact with other teachers at school, it could happen indeed that several teachers have to be quarantined to ensure safety. If this causes the school to be unable to fill the teaching roster, the school may decide to –partly or completely- arrange education in a different way. Then this would not be because of health reasons but because the school has a shortage of teachers.

Suppose parents have tested positive, but their child has no symptoms. May the child go to school?

If parents have tested positive and can therefore transmit the virus, their child is not allowed to go to school. We know that children can sometimes become infected at home, but we must prevent them from infecting each other, even though they get very mild symptoms and the chance that they infect others is small. Therefore, these children must stay at home for up to 14 days after their last contact with an infected person.

It is recommended to work from home as much as possible. Does this mean that teachers who can arrange “distance learning” are free to do so?

Teachers are deemed to be essential workers, i.e. they are in an indispensable profession. It is important for the development of children that they go to school every day and mix with other pupils there. If teachers have to be in quarantine, it will be determined whether online lessons are feasible.

What happens to parents who refuse to send their children to school?

On Bonaire children have to go to school from the age of four to eighteen. If parents do not send their children to school they will be invited for a personal meeting, during which they will be asked about the reasons why their children are not attending school. During this meeting the best solution to this issue will be discussed with the parents.

Why have you decided not to close the schools, when it has now been proven that children can infect each other at school?

Up until now, all infected children on Bonaire have been infected at home. It has never been said that children cannot be infected at school. It has only been said that the risk of infection at school is very small. It is important for children to go to school, but only -of course- if it is safe for them to do so. At the moment it is safe to send children to school.