Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: French authorities maintain travel restrictions in Mayotte until at least May 14 and Reunion until at least May 11.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Mayotte
  • Reunion

This alert began 05 May 2020 10:03 GMT and is scheduled to expire 14 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Reunion and Mayotte (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Summary
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced the extension of existing travel and movement restrictions in Mayotte until at least May 14 to help stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Restrictions were due to end May 11 in line with the relaxing of restrictions in France and in Overseas Territories; however, high-local transmission rates amid strained health infrastructure in Mayotte have necessitated the extension. Mayotte was moved to Level 3 of emergency preparedness on April 3; as of May 4, the territory has over 680 confirmed cases and six deaths linked to Covid-19. Existing travel and movement restrictions in Reunion are set to expire May 11.

Current measures in Mayotte and Reunion include:

  • The suspension of non-essential travel between cities and towns on the territories.
  • Residents may only leave their homes for essential purchases and medical services. Violations of the stay-at-home measures are punishable by fines and/or incarceration.
  • The prohibition of public gatherings, including cultural and social gatherings.
  • Officials have imposed a 2000-0500 curfew in Mayotte, and in the La Possession commune in Reunion; essential services are exempt.
  • The closure of all of the nation's airports and seaports to passenger aircraft and vessels. The edict does not apply to cargo shipments and the repatriation of French nationals and foreign citizens.


All travelers returning from mainland France to Reunion and Mayotte will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period. Airlines have significantly reduced the number of flights between mainland France and Reunion and Mayotte. Travel certificates are to be completed before entry to French Overseas Territories; this document is available on the French Ministry of Interior webpage.

Further amendments or extensions to existing restrictions are possible over the coming days.

Background and Analysis
Reunion and Mayotte's travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Individuals affected by the restrictions should consider postponing planned travel. Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm non-emergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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