Stricter corona rules for Curacao; tourists ‘not to blame’ for spike in infections

Willemstad harbour on a sunny day
Photo: Nelo Hotsuma via Wikimedia Commons
Willemstad harbour on a sunny day
Photo: Nelo Hotsuma via Wikimedia Commons

Curacao has tightened up its coronavirus restrictions, including a 9pm curfew, in response to a spike in cases in the last week.

In the last five days an average of 41.8 infections have been recorded on the island, which has a population of 160,000, the highest level since the start of the pandemic. In total there have been 1,340 cases and two deaths.

Bookings to the island from the Netherlands have surged in the last two weeks after it was exempted from the Dutch government’s ban on overseas travel, part of the stricter lockdown rules that have been in force since November 4.

Despite the increase in infections the foreign affairs ministry has not changed its travel advice for Curacao from yellow, indicating that travel is allowed as long as visitors observe local rules.

The new restrictions on the island, which apply from Monday evening, include starting the night-time curfew at 9pm rather than 11pm and requiring all bars and restaurants to shut by 8pm. Face masks will also be compulsory in shops and on public transport.

Regular healthcare has been suspended, except for emergency operations, because of the high rate of infection among hospital staff, which has meant 25% of hospital beds are currently empty.

Local epidemiologist Dr Izzy Gerstenbruth said last week that tourists were not responsible for the rise in cases. Contact tracing has so far found that only one of the 51 cases reported last Wednesday – the highest number for a single day – concerned somebody who was not resident on the island.

‘The virus is transmitted among our own population, not among tourists. The import cases are almost zero or are already in quarantine,’ Dr Gerstenbruth told a press conference.

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