Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy, and Saint Martin extend movement restrictions through at least May 11.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Guadeloupe
  • Martinique
  • Saint Martin
  • Saint Barthelemy

This alert began 15 Apr 2020 12:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 11 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy, and Saint Martin (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least mid-May
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in the French overseas territories in the Caribbean have extended movement restriction measures in each territory through at least May 11, following the measures imposed by the French national government in response to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Residents in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy, and Saint Martin will only be allowed to leave their homes to obtain basic goods, to attend a medical issue that cannot be solved remotely, to assist a family member in need, and to perform physical activity individually within one km (0.6 miles) from their home and for a maximum of one hour a day. People working in essential businesses and services are also allowed to travel to their workplaces.

Authorities have maintained restrictions on commercial passenger flights in the region. Visitors are banned from entering the islands, and only limited flights between them, French Guiana, and France continue to operate. Only those with compelling personal or family reasons, health emergencies, or essential professional tasks will be allowed to travel. Cargo aircraft will continue to operate.

The local governments have imposed additional restrictions:

Guadeloupe:

Officials have imposed a 2000-0500 curfew since April 1. Emergency services are exempt. Starting April 16, all persons arriving in the Guadeloupe islands will be placed at an isolation facility, where they must remain for at least 14 days.

Martinique:

Officials have imposed a 2000-0500 curfew from April 1. Public health services are exempt. All businesses, except pharmacies, must be closed between 1900-0600. Starting April 20, all travelers entering Martinique will be placed at an isolation facility, where they must remain for at least 14 days.

Saint Martin:

Authorities have prohibited ground travel between Saint Martin and Sint Maarten, except for medical emergencies, and if telework is not possible and officials have approved authorization.

The local governments are likely to expand or extend their preventative measures and movement restrictions over the coming days and weeks. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures are similar to actions taken by other governments globally in recent weeks 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. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic March 11.

Advice
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.

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.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int

Government of France - COVID-19 Information: www.gouvernement.fr

Government of Guadeloupe: www.guadeloupe.gouv.fr

Government of Martinique: www.martinique.gouv.fr

Governments of Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy: www.saint-barth-saint-martin.gouv.fr