MP George Pantophlet: To Shut down or not to Shut down.

George Pantophlet

Recently, I have taken note of some developments on St. Maarten. The most recent one being the shortening of opening hours for nighttime entertainment clubs, bars, restaurants etc. This has brought some thoughts to mind and I will express them via this article. Please note that this is my personal opinion on the matter.

One thing I have learned is that some people will do whatever they want to do without looking at the consequences. What makes matters worse is that their actions can be extremely harmful and even cause death to others. This kind of behavior is irresponsible, careless, and dangerous.

Our Kingdom partners, Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire are being heavily affected by the COVID19 pandemic. There are new variants that are causing more serious challenges especially on our sister Island of Curacao and my prayers go out to them.

Because of the behavior of some reckless persons on our island, our Minister of Economic Affairs had to take an unpopular decision by shortening the opening hours. The cry coming out is that the majority is being punished for a few and that only the perpetrators should be punished. Unfortunately, this is not how things work in reality.

It would behoove us all if business owners and/or other individuals become whistleblowers. If you see anyone breaking the established protocols, take a video and contact the relevant authorities. But of course, you might be saying that it is not your responsibility. In my humble opinion, I beg to differ.

What some don’t seem to understand is that we have a tourism-driven economy. What some don’t seem to understand is that if cases continue to rise, vaccination or not, countries such as especially the United States and Canada, where the majority of our tourists come from, will definitely cancel flights to St. Maarten.

Our Minister of Economic Affairs Ms. Ludmilla de Weever was able to secure some homeporting which will bring in some badly needed income. To date, we are dependent on liquidity support from the Dutch government and we know how that is going.
I concur with article 20.1 of the State Regulation of St. Maarten (Staatsregeling) which states as follows: It shall be the Government’s constant concern to promote the provision of sufficient employment.

Isn’t that what Government was doing by allowing business establishments to open until the early morning hours? Article21.1 also states that the government shall take steps to promote the health of the population. My question is, what about our civic responsibilities? Obeying the rule of law should be the most important one and if there is no law, then your behavior should be ethical.

I have come to realize that you can’t legislate morality. The recovery of our economy, contrary to popular belief, is dependent in this instance more on our behavior as a people than any program or law that government can execute or establish.

If we want our economy to thrive by the return of tourism, which includes, cruise tourism, stay over tourist, etc., we must each do our part by adhering to the protocols. We know that more tourists will translate into hotels being filled, restaurants being filled, taxi drivers making more trips, and casinos being filled, just to name a few. This will mean less dependency on Dutch liquidity support.

People of St. Maarten, the ball is in your court. You decide, to Shut down or not to Shut down.

MP George Pantophlet