Aruba Not Ready To Lift Coronavirus Restrictions
Aruba is not ready yet to change its coronavirus restrictions.
This statement was announced by the head of the department of public health (DVG) during a press conference Friday (April 17, 2020).
According to the director of public health, any government that wants to lift coronavirus restrictions must first meet with 6 conditions set by the world health organization (WHO), which are:
- Have the disease transmission under control.
- Health systems need to detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact.
- Hot spot risks need to be minimized in vulnerable places, for example nursing homes.
- All Schools, workplaces and essential places need to establish preventive measures.
- The risk of importing new cases must be managed.
- The community needs to be fully educated, engaged and empowered to live with a “new normal lifestyle”.
Aruba is not ready yet to lift restrictions, because the island is still dealing with at least two of the conditions set by WHO – the risk of importing new cases if travel bans are lifted, and the awareness of the community to live under a “new normal lifestyle”.
Current Coronavirus Situation
The good news is that coronavirus is improving in Aruba.
According to the Health Minister, the transmission of new cases is minimal, and the number of people recovering from the virus infection are growing.
The last series of tests were completed on Saturday (April 18, 2020).
A total of 60 tests, and all came out negative for coronavirus.
In the last 7 days, only 4 new cases were found.
This is an indication that the transmission rate of coronavirus is reducing, which is one of the conditions set by WHO to lift restrictions.
At the moment, (last updated April 19, 2020) there are:
- Active Infections – 50
- Recuperated – 44
- Quarantine – 104
The First Person To Pass Away
Aruba recorded its first death from coronavirus on April 15, 2020.
It was a local woman at the age of 79 years old.
She was admitted to the hospital 15 days before she passed away, and was not a patient in the ICU, but in an isolated room.
According to the department of public health, the woman also had underlying health issues that caused complications with the virus.
Unfortunately there’s also a second death reported by the public health department.
However, this person was not registered as an active coronavirus case – the public health department tested him positive for coronavirus after he passed away.
It’s not sure if he died of the virus, or other health complications.
Aruba is part of many countries around the world that is treating its hospitalized COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine. However, it’s only used if necessary.
Although this drug was originally developed to treat malaria, it’s proven to be effective on certain patients that tested positive for coronavirus.
There’s also an ongoing study on the island that includes blood plasma from patients that recovered from coronavirus that may contain antibodies of the disease.
Blood plasma containing antibodies is believed to help infected patients cure from the disease and also boost the immune system of those who are most vulnerable to coronavirus.
The hospital in Aruba is currently testing this method to prove its effectiveness.
The Netherlands Sends Medical Assistance
The Netherlands transported 35 medical workers to Aruba to assist the doctors at the hospital during this coronavirus crisis.
All the costs to maintain these medical workers during their stay in Aruba will be covered by The Netherlands for the next 90 days.
Preventive Measures Are Extended
The government announced that lockdown measures, including Toque de Queda (curfew, 9:00 pm – 6:00 am) and shelter in place will be extended until the end of April 2020.
These preventive measures will be examined at the end of the month, and depending on the coronavirus situation, the measures will be eased or increased.
Aruba Received Financial Help
The Netherlands agreed to lend Aruba 42.8 million guilders, equal to 24 million US dollars, against 0% rent to help with the crisis.
This sum of money will be used to help locals who lost their jobs and businesses who are struggling to stay afloat.
It’s a loan that needs to be paid back within 2 years.
Curacao and St.Maarten also received financial help from The Netherlands.
New Economic Design For Aruba
The Prime Minister of Aruba announced that the Government is currently brainstorming a new economic design for the island.
According to the Prime Minister, the most important factor at this moment in the midst of this coronavirus crisis, is the health of the locals. Because without proper health, there can be no economy.
After the health factor is in place, the government will attend to a new economic design, which includes but is not limited to:
- financial help to overcome the crisis.
- Create new economic pillars that will boost employment
- Restart projects that were halted by the crisis
Projects that will be restarted in the short term are building of hotels, including St.Regis in Palm Beach and Secrets Resorts at Baby Beach, expansion of the Airport Project “Gateway 2030” and investments in agriculture.
The Prime Minister said “the new economy of Aruba is going to be strong, resilient, and will take notice of the carrying capacity of Aruba and protect its natural resources, including flora and fauna”
Tourism is going to change worldwide – this also counts for Aruba.
The amounts of flights and cruise ships may also be reduced.
Aruba may not be as full of tourists anymore, restaurants may not host guests at full capacity anymore, beaches may not be as crowded anymore. Bars also can’t be too full.
The way we used to gather in large groups as social people, may change. All of these changes may come forward to keep social distance, a new normal lifestyle.
CDC Bans Cruise Ships
The centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) announced a modification and extension of no sail order for all cruise ships.
Various cruise ships announced that they will restart their cruise lines in May, but according to the CDC all cruise itineraries need to wait for at least 100 days, until further notice.
With the current ban by CDC, holiday goers could wait a long time for the trip of their lifetime. Including a popular cruise line by Carnival cruise that planned to visit Aruba in May 2020, but this was too optimistic, according to the Tourism Minister on the island.
Carnival cruise now said to reschedule its trip to Aruba around June or July 2020, depending on the restrictions by the CDC.
The cruise ship ban is strict and can only be lifted if the US Government retracts its state of public health emergency.
Until the coronavirus is under control, Aruba will not see another cruise ship docked to its piers.
Soul Beach Music Festival Cancelled
Promoters of Soul Beach Festival announced that the 20th edition of the popular concert in Aruba will be canceled this year.
The event was canceled related to the worldwide effort to end the spread of COVID-19.
Soul Beach Music Festival was planned May, 20 – 25, 2020. However, the event will be rescheduled to May 26 – 31, 2021.
According to the promoters of the event, anyone who has already purchased a ticket to soul beach through their website, will get an email notification with detailed information on how to use their ticket for next year 2021 or apply for a refund.
Turtles Nesting Season
While we are fighting the coronavirus worldwide, the sea turtles continue their yearly trip to Aruba to nest their eggs.
There are already 5 turtle nests on the island, including 4 at Eagle beach, and 1 on Palm beach.
Sea turtles are one of the oldest returning visitors on the island, and now that the beaches in Aruba are empty, they are going to nest their eggs undisturbed by people.
Normally when the beaches are full, people enjoy watching these sea turtles come out of the sea and make their way up to the beach, but this usually scares them away and does more harm than good.
Because they may even give up nesting on the beach, and end up giving up the eggs and releasing them into the sea, that nest is then lost forever.
The nests on the beach are enclosed with red and white barricades, and will hatch in the next 75 days.
Recovery For Hotel Sector in Aruba
Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association recently announced expectations for the hotel occupancy in Aruba.
Their expectations are based on the fact that Aruba and other countries reopen their borders back in June 2020.
The reopening of tourism in Aruba and visitors to hotels is based on different factors, including but not limited to:
- How visitors are affected financially world wide
- If countries are able to get the virus under control
- The amount of seats airlines can offer to Aruba
The hotel association projects that occupancy in Aruba accommodation is going to gradually grow starting with 15% by June, if borders open by then, and slowly increase to 55% by December.
Here’s a view of their monthly trajectory for occupancy in hotels:
- June – 15%
- July – 30%
- August – 35%
- September – 40%
- October – 45%
- November – 50%
- December – 55%
A lot of businesses in Aruba depend on tourism for revenue, but with the projection of hotel occupancy falling under break-even point, many businesses will be operating at a financial loss during Aruba’s tourism recovery period, until the situation normalizes.
The sooner the world gets the coronavirus situation under control, the better it will be for all of us, including tourism in Aruba.
Support Local Business in Aruba
As soon as coronavirus is over, we all should contribute to and support our local business. Starting in your own country where you live.
When we finally decide to travel again, we should support local businesses abroad and stimulate their economy.
Vicky Perez, a local entrepreneur and manager of Courtyard By Marriott in Aruba recently made a video of local professionals and entrepreneurs in that pledge to stay home, safe and continue to support locally owned business after we get out of this pandemic.
We are all in the same situation, together we can help each other.
Watch the video here (I’m also featured in it, I’m the first face in the video – I wish you to stay safe & stay healthy).
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