Daniel Gibbs answers questions from journalists

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As in previous weeks, the president of the Community, Daniel Gibbs took part in the question-and-answer game with the journalists, during the weekly press briefing.

 

1) To revive the economy, the Collectivity of Saint-Martin wants bars and restaurants to be able to reopen in a shorter term than in France, where the government plans to reopen in June. President Macron expressed support for your wish. However, should we wait for a government decree allowing these premature reopenings on our territory?

We actually asked the President of the Republic for authorization to restart this part of our economy as quickly as possible. It constitutes an important part of the local economic fabric and it is urgent that these companies, which have already undergone the tripple sanction with Irma and the social movements of December, and now the COVID19 confinement, can resume their activity.

We do not need a decree but the deconfinement measures and the reopening dates must receive the approval of the Government and in particular of the Ministry of Health.

This is the reason why, we work with the services of the Prefecture and the socio-professional organizations, on a plan of deconfinement specific to this sector of activities.

Subject to a stable health situation, the reopening should be able to be effective during the month of May.

 

2) Why did you choose to reopen only the CP, CE1 and CM2 classes? What is missing to reopen the other levels?

This is an important question because many parents ask it and it is normal that we explain this choice again.

The rector Mostafa Fourar and his services alerted us to the educational issue for schoolchildren of these three levels in particular, because these are pivotal classes in terms of learning to read, for CP and CE1, and preparation at the entrance to 6rd for CM2.

Despite the real difficulty in reopening establishments according to very strict health protocols which require the deployment of significant resources, we have heard this emergency.

We have therefore decided to respond favorably to the demand for national education, but by limiting the classes concerned according to our priorities and our means.

The conditions are not met to reopen the nursery classes before the month of September. The risk is too great for this age group and the means are not all guaranteed at this stage.

For colleges, we are discussing the possibility of reopening classes of 6rd and 5rd.

 

3) On the reopening of the schools, the prefect Sylvie Feucher previously announced that she would not issue an authorization to cross the border to students who live in the Dutch part and who are educated in the French part. Will the bond of education with these students be preserved?

I think that this question, which is strictly a matter of education, should be addressed to the State services.

However, and we are attentive to this in order to ensure equal opportunities, the schooling link must be preserved since these pupils have benefited from distance education since mid-March.

The pupils concerned must be able to continue the distance courses provided by their establishment, as many pupils have been subject to it for two months now.

 

4) Doesn't the official “filtering” of the border for more than a month risk creating an unprecedented precedent in the history of the island?

Yes, this is a completely new situation in the history of Saint-Martin, if we put aside the post-Irma episode. For the first time since the signing of the Treaty of Concorde between the north and the south in 1648, the free movement of goods and people is called into question on our binational island.

This decision is exceptional and commensurate with the crisis we are going through. We can all understand the principle. Nevertheless, we must find a favorable outcome for those who need to circulate between the two parts of the island.

We are all very concerned by this question, which will also be the subject of a debate tomorrow in a general committee with all of the territorial advisers.

 

5) The deconfinement is launched, swimming is now authorized. Can you rule on boating activities and water sports, respecting the rules and barrier gestures?

On this point, responsibilities are shared. The Collectivity is responsible for the beaches. We therefore decided to lift some of the restrictions on May 8, by authorizing a walk on the beach and swimming.

To lift the ban on the commercial practice of water sports, we will have to discuss it beforehand with the State services, which is currently the case. It is a joint decision.

As for individual non-motorized and non-commercial nautical activities, after discussion this weekend with the Prefect on the phasing of deconfinement, the community will modify its decree in order to authorize the practice in the next few days.

As for navigation, it is a competence of the State. It is a decision of the prefect of the defense zone, for us, the prefect of Martinique.

 

6) For the past week, we have noticed a great deal of relaxation with regard to containment measures, even before the date of May 11.

What consequences could arise from the appearance, proven since Saturday, of new cases identified thanks to PCR tests carried out in the neighborhoods?

The government has been clear on this point, and we are also locally clear: the return of too many positive cases in the territory could lead to a new confinement. This is the reason why we are hammering out a message of caution with regard to our fellow citizens.

Deconfinement does not mean the end of this health crisis, far from it! COVID19 has not disappeared, it is still present in Saint-Martin. The discovery of a positive case just two days ago reveals how fragile our situation remains.

You now understand why we insisted on getting these PCR tests in Saint Martin. The Collectivity was strongly mobilized because it is only by this method that we will be able to have a more precise idea of ​​the number of real cases in Saint-Martin. These tests are a way to isolate sick people but also to identify and test the contacts.

In this health crisis in particular, caution is the mother of all virtues. Let us be careful, let us remain vigilant because, I repeat, nothing is played.

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