The nightly Rendez-Vous with the MinPres had a different format last night, as GOA was modeling Social Distancing by conducting the event without an audience, taking questions from the media by remote.
The news sounded positive at first, just one more Co-Vid 19 patient, related to a previous case, hailing from NY. She assured us it was in isolation and in good condition. The MinPres then went on to outline a number of additional, welcome, restrictions, such as closing every bar, restaurant and store by 10pm, regardless of previous permits.
If you didn’t eat or buy it by 10pm, it will have to wait for the following day.
Returning residents, coming off an airplane from abroad, starting today, will have to enter a self-imposed quarantine for 14 days. The MinPres also announced a help line set up by ATA to help repatriate local residents having difficulties to return: They may can call 569-6897 for help.
In addition, there will be no public church services, and the island of Curacao also added no funerals with more than 10 people, because similar to Aruba, our neighbors revealed they have identified 3 cases, and have instituted similar restriction to Aruba, to reduce gatherings of groups of people.
Then late last night, 24Ora broke a story that saddened me beyond words. Apparently a house doctor, from San Nicolas, whose wife fell ill with symptoms of Co-Vid 19 – contracted the virus in NY, during vacation – continued to work, send children to school, and see a great number of local patients in a shared family practice of Dr. Giel, Dr. Boderie and Dr. Wever on the main street of his town.
An astounding case of negligence and ignorance. The health authorities have their hands full this morning, tracking the activities of Dr. Giel and listing the numerous encounters had with co-workers and patients, in order to test all of them. They meanwhile shut down that family practice.
The news item has stunned Aruba. A medical professional who knows better who did not follow protocol, and thus should be charged with criminal negligence, endangering his entire island community with his irresponsible, stupid, conduct.
Yesterday, a number of establishments had announced closing for at least two weeks, with the Gianni’s Group and Casa Tua restaurants among them. The Casino at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino opted to close due to current circumstances on “our One Happy Island surrounding COVID-19.” They will remain closed until further notice. The MinPres applauded these casinos/businesses who have decided to close in protection of employees and the public.
While those are all concrete positive steps in helping the island combat the threat, the MinPres announced that GOA is working on putting funds in place to assist individuals who will be unemployed. She has asked for help from a number of foreign sources, including the Dutch authorities, but so far none responded favorably. We will have to help ourselves.
GOA is also working on relief options for business, to keep as many people as employed, but so far no concrete steps announced.
The following are press announcements I have received during the day, FYI:
Reminder: Tests are done only when there are symptoms.
Reminder: Call Center number for those with ALL 3 SYMPTOMS: 280-0101. Send employees home if they have all 3 symptoms and tell them to call the number.
Reminder: 3 symptoms are fever, difficulty breathing, cough.
Note the following:
There is increased patrolling by police in the community, in anticipation of possible increase in crime.
There is reinforced security at the airport.
Recommendations for businesses:
Stop making non-essential (not crime-related) calls to the police department.
Beef up security if you can (reassign staff, if possible).
For casinos, restaurants, etc: Limit to 50 customers at any time.
Encourage delivery instead of in-store or in-restaurant service.
Weddings: Limit to 50 guests.
Cancel any non-essential events.
And, of course, continue with precautions:
Keep the work areas sanitized
Have employees wash hands frequently with soap
Have hand sanitizer in various locations
Avoid in-person meetings as much as possible.
Keep everyone at least 1 meter apart from each other.
Any employee that exhibits all 3 symptoms: coughing, difficulty breathing, fever; send them home and contact Call Center for them to get screened for testing @ 280-0101.
The banks on Aruba will work with employees/persons that have been dramatically affected financially, on a case by case basis. Please advise any employee that is asking about their loan/mortgage payments, to make contact with their lender.
Customs will work with less staffing and prioritize which shipments they process to let in. Food and medical supplies will have the highest priority.
American Airlines is making no schedule changes for outbound flights through April 24.
The airport has the following update on airlines that have made changes to their schedule, due to our lockdown.
Please note that any airline not mentioned below has not made any changes yet.
The airport will keep us updated and I will publish these
JetBlue will operate our regular schedule through Wednesday March 18th, with the exception of the last flight 757/1858 JFK-AUA-JFK which was cancelled.
Flights from 3/19-3/31 have been cancelled.
Flights OR397/398 AMS-PUJ-AUA-AMS of today 16MAR20 will operate as per normal schedule.
Due to sharp declines in demand and new governmental regulations regarding international travel, Southwest Airlines will be examining the possibility of reductions to our international flying in the short term. While I do not have exact details at this time, I did want to reach out to each of our airports to see if I should handle slot returns in any specific format to help streamline the process.