WILLEMSTAD - The Government and Dr. Gerstenbluth have done a fantastic job to get the number of infections under control in record time. Along with that, they have applied enormous effort to increase the number of vaccinated people in Curaçao. CHATA is extremely grateful to them for this.
The people of Curaçao and the companies have contributed a lot to this pandemic. The population tolerated the limiting restrictions on their fundamental rights and the companies have made great financial sacrifices. Now that the situation is under control, we as a tourist industry expected that the fact that the virus is under control again, would result in release of measures that re-activate the sector and thus our economy again. After all, during the partial lockdown of the past 6 weeks, it is almost impossible to attract tourists to our island under these circumstances. And everyone knows that especially the tourism industry was one that has been hit hardest.
It is incomprehensible that this has not happened. We had at least expected that people would be allowed to go to the beach and that the Plachi di Dia would be removed. Everyone knows that these two things contribute little or nothing to the number of infections. It has been proven that no one gets infected in open air, and on the beach, certainly not if they keep their distance and if you are in the car with your housemates; the risk of infection is not greater than when you are at home. However, the relaxation of these specific measures had certainly contributed to the return of tourists to our island.
In addition, the implementation of the Antigen Test to be taken three days after arrival remains unacceptable, especially for the tourism industry stakeholders. Firstly, everyone who comes to Curaçao would already have had to take a PCR test. Secondly, the antigen tests are very unreliable. Therefore, it could result in a false positive, which would ensure that the tourist in question has to be quarantined with all their fellow travelers for the rest of their holiday. Lastly, the extra implementation of this test means that people who stay a week in Curaçao, would have to test at least 3 times, but most probably 4 times, which is means that tourists easily will choose for another destination and stay far away from Curacao.
This is without mentioning the incredibly difficult procedure to use 3 or 4 different apps, uploading various files, and paying online, to get an entry document for Curaçao. Furthermore, the technical flaws that this platform has, already resulted in dozens of travelers that to be left standing at both Schiphol and Miami, is a disgrace for Curaçao!
The fact that none of these three points, which the tourist industry specifically requested to not implemented, have been installed anyway, makes it very difficult to demand support and commitment from the same companies that have to bear the financial consequences once again.
In addition, this ensures that there is still no prospect for the approximately 50% employees of the total tourism industry, and its suppliers, who are currently unemployed. Note that this is roughly 16,000 people, and with their family members it could be approximately 40,000 people who do not know whether they will have a living again tomorrow.
By not implementing more flexible measures, companies must also continue to make use of the NOW scheme and thus cutting the salary of their employees by 20%. This has been going on for 14 months and is no longer to be asked of from our staff. At CHATA, we are 100% behind the Government's vaccination policy and therefore support it wherever we can.
What we find very strange as well, is that people who have been vaccinated are not exempted from all testing obligations and they are not allowed to move more freely. We think this would be a very good incentive for people to get vaccinated and this will have a very positive effect on the number of tourists that come to our beautiful island as well.
In summary, we can say that for the tourism industry, the related companies and all employees, the relaxation of the measures as they have now been implemented, are very disappointing and are no longer in balance with the current situation. This is taking place while many people are unemployed, and a considerable number of companies will no longer be able to stay open; this will only get worse.
Therefore, CHATA is calling on the Government to remove themselves from these minor eases in measures and to reconsider further evaluation within the coming 14 days. Instead, to introduce further easing now and at least indicate the schedule for the de-escalation so there is a horizon for people and companies to look forward to.
The silly remarks that the release of measures cannot be planned in the long run is not valid! After all, every entrepreneur must plan all the time and of course reality always deviates, but you have to adjust your plans accordingly and everyone will understand that.
The government has a duty to guide us, and this should be done according to a planned and balanced approach!