In a press conference on Thursday afternoon Lt. Governor Edison Rijna explained the new Code Orange Status assigned by the Dutch government.
Here is a transcript of his speech:
This week we have received some less than pleasant news: the Netherlands has decided to designate all countries, including Bonaire, code-orange travel destinations.
It has been explained to us that it is not Bonaire that constitutes the problem, but that the COVID-19 situation in the Netherlands is the issue and consequently the Netherlands wants to discourage people from traveling to Bonaire.
This news came as a surprise. We know that entrepreneurs, business people and employees in the tourism sector are suffering from the low numbers of tourists coming to Bonaire. This is precisely why the Executive Council has approached the Netherlands in order to try to secure extra help for Bonaire. If we succeed we will be able to help people who will have less income now that the decision for code orange has been taken.
At the moment we have four active cases of COVID-19 on Bonaire. We know that in most cases people have been infected with the virus in their work place or at home. To avoid infection in the workplace, we recommend all companies, offices and agencies to let their employees work from home as much as possible, especially in the period after Christmas. Our advice is to let employees work from home until at least 18 January, 2021. This is our recommendation because we are conscious that the number of COVID-19 infections could increase during the Christmas holidays.
There are additional measures that we need to take in order to prevent an increase in the number of infections. We know that recently our residents and tourists have not always been following the rules as they should. For example, there have been illegal parties, dance parties and at private events the 1.5 meters distance rule is not being adhered to. I would like to ask all companies in the hospitality sector, all residents and all tourists to please abide by our rules.
In collaboration with the police and the Supervision and Enforcement Directorate we are now, more than before, going to monitor whether everyone is following the rules. Should we find out that there are illegal parties or parties with DJs and loud music, we will act immediately. This means, for example, that we may close businesses in the hospitality sector if they do not comply with the rules. In addition, we may issue sizable fines to the organizers of illegal parties.
I know that we all love to dance and party. But we must keep in mind that we cannot allow our health and the health of others to be endangered. If you do not adhere to the rules, you endanger the health of your grandparents, father, mother or other family members, friends and acquaintances. Let’s take care of each other and let’s help each other. If someone does not adhere to the 1.5 meters distance rule, address this and talk to him or her about complying.
There is another reason why we should continue to adhere to the rules. If we get an increase in COVID-19 cases we will be required to take tougher measures. These measures will greatly affect our lifestyle and the way we interact with each other.
If you have any symptoms, however mild they may be, please call 0800 0800 to make an appointment to be tested. Don’t hesitate and don’t wait too long.
Celebrate Christmas with your loved ones and respect the existing rules. Christmas and New Year’s Eve will be different for us all, but let’s work together for a healthy 2021. Happy Holidays.
Dr. Marian Luinstra-Passchier of the Department of Public Health provided an update on cases of COVID-19 on Bonaire.
Here is a transcript of her speech:
We have had a total of 20 new infections since 1 November, 2020. After five weeks of an average of two or three infections per week, we noted eight new infections on Bonaire in the last week. Fortunately, due to good source and contact tracing we can currently trace the source of most of the infections and prevent any further infections.
In this period we have seen four clusters, that is four groups of infections. You can see them depicted here.
All four clusters started with someone who was infected in Curacao. Sometimes it was someone from Bonaire and sometimes it was someone from Curacao who was here temporarily and was infected. In addition, there were six separate infections of which two originated outside of Bonaire and the other four from an unknown source.
In the next graph you can see that most people were infected at work, others were infected at home or at a friends’ place.
We are concerned about how people interact. In our contact tracing surveys we have seen that people who became infected had contact with many people in the preceding days and often were also part of a large group. People are not adhering to the measures properly and so we are running the risk that one single infection may lead to many more infections.
The coming weeks will be challenging. The Christmas period is upon us and there is a major outbreak in both Curacao and the Netherlands.
In addition, we see an increase in tourism. Tourists like to come together on beaches, in restaurants and bars and at the resorts. This is why I call upon you as a doctor to avoid large groups and celebrate the holidays on a smaller scale this year. Don’t give each other hugs and keep your distance. If you have a cold, don’t go to that Christmas dinner or party.
Together with all the family doctors, Fundashon Mariadal, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and other parties, we are preparing for the COVID-19 vaccinations. This is to ensure that as many people as possible on Bonaire can be vaccinated in the future.
The elderly, people with chronic illnesses and healthcare personnel will be the first to have their turn. We have been coordinating this for a few months and now preparations are gaining momentum. We have to make sure everything is well organized before we commence. So as soon as we know more about the program, we will inform you of this.