St. Maarten announced this week that it will proceed with implementing a phased transition to move from pandemic protocol to endemic strategies.
The first step of the transition strategy starts February 25, at which time all nightlife business hours will be extended to 3 a.m. This will be followed by a change in the entry requirements beginning March 1, with all travelers who are fully vaccinated, as well as those who have recovered from COVID-19 in the last nine months, no longer being required to show proof of a negative test upon arrival. Unvaccinated individuals, however, must still provide a negative PCR test taken 48 hours prior to arrival or an antigen test taken 24 hours prior to arrival. All travelers, regardless of vaccination status, must fill out a health pre-authorization form as early as 72 hours before arrival by visiting www.stmaartenentry.com (all new entry protocols mentioned will soon be updated on this same website).
“This is not a hastily made move nor one to be confused with complacency about the situation,” said Omar Ottley, minister of public health, social development and labor, in a press statement. “As we take steps towards normalcy, we will do so in a safe and responsible manner. With case numbers remaining low, our protocols have made St. Maarten one of the safest places to visit today. Declaring COVID-19 an endemic on our island is pivotal, and we will work for months to come to pioneer policies that prioritize everyone’s health and simultaneously allow for easy yet safe travel to and within St. Maarten. We are confident that introducing these new protocols will help us smoothly transition back to normalcy and maintenance while welcoming an increasing number of valued visitors to our 'Friendly Island.'”
Added Roger Lawrence, minister of tourism, economic affairs, transport and telecommunication: “As we transition to normalcy, we will continue to promote safety measures to ensure a safe and fun environment for our residents and visitors alike throughout the transition period.”
According to the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau, the number of airport arrivals is on the rise, proving that recovery of the tourism sector is underway. In January 2022, the destination welcomed nearly 30,000 visitors—a 39 percent increase compared to January 2019 numbers.
Direct airlift into Princess Juliana International Airport is currently available via American Airlines (out of Miami, Charlotte and Dallas), Delta (out of Atlanta and New York-JFK), JetBlue (from Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New York-JFK and Newark), Spirit (out of Fort Lauderdale) and United (from Newark, Washington-Dulles and Chicago).