THE HAGUE – Saba will receive 1.5 million dollars from the Dutch government to deal with the blows caused by the corona crisis. The island forwent a major portion of its income as it was closed off to tourists for a period of nine months.
State secretary Raymond Knops (Kingdom Relations) announced the amount during his visit to the island. He spoke to local politicians and business owners on Wednesday and Thursday.
The local council decided to keep the borders closed for months to ensure the safety of its citizens. The island economy came to a standstill because it relies heavily on tourism and medical students.
Knops: ‘We will do our best to support Sabans’
“We as the Dutch government will do our upmost to support you in doing the right thing right now”, Knops promised the inhabitants. “That means that we provide income support and support for companies. And we will continue with this, at the same rate as we do in the European part of the Netherlands.”
For Saba it is of upmost importance that the financial team be expanded and that the inhabitants can get help from for example a notary public. How the 1.5 million dollars will be allocated on the island remains to be seen. The local council was not (yet) ready to reveal any precise amounts.
The state secretary spoke to the lieutenant governor, council members, and the Saba Business Association. “We discussed a myriad of issues concerning the crisis during these meetings. I’m proud of the work they’re doing. I’m impressed by the resilience of Sabans and how the island has handled the pandemic.”
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Visit during corona pandemic
Officially the island doesn’t have any infections at this point in time. The borders were reopened on November 1st, provided travelers go into quarantine for two weeks when they arrive on the island.
An exception was made for the state secretary (and the two delegates who are travelling with him) on the conditions that they always wear a mask, that they enjoy their meals in their hotel rooms, and that they drive themselves. “He also underwent a corona test when he arrived on the island”, according to lieutenant governor Jonathan Johnson.
ieutenant governor Johnson: ‘All safety measures were followed’
According to a spokesperson, Knops and his delegation ‘did not come into contact with the local population’. The people of Saba hope that this will ensure that their island remains free of corona. That all went awry on sister-island Statia in September. One individual from abroad infected someone else on the island, despite testing negative upon arrival.
Knops: ‘Being on Saba feels like being at home’
The last time that Knops visited the island was in June of 2019. Knops has visited the Caribbean municipalities twice a year during the past few years to talk to the local politicians and the inhabitants.
State secretary Knops: ‘Let’s hope that a vaccine will help start up the economy’
“Being here on Saba, feels like being at home. This is an island where people help each other. We will get through the current problems together”, Knops said in a speech which was broadcast to inhabitants. “Know that everyone in The Hague is paying a lot of attention to your wellbeing and the future of the island.”