Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in Reunion continue easing COVID-19 movement and business restrictions as of July 10. Disruptions to persist.

  • Alert Begins: 10 Jul 2020 03:40 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Reunion (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Lingering travel and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities continue to ease travel restrictions put in place to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of early July. The State of Health Emergency governing restrictions in Reunion expires July 10; authorities will permit most businesses and services to resume operation, provided they implement strict social distancing and hygiene requirements.

Travel restrictions to mainland France have been lifted; however, travel to Reunion will require a negative COVID-19 test taken in the previous 72 hours. Non-French nationals remain barred from entry, though exceptions are made, such as for health workers, freight and transport workers, diplomats, students, and urgent family reasons; all such arrivals are required to fill out an attestation form prior to travel and to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

Public gatherings of more than 10 people remain prohibited, and face coverings are mandatory on public transport and many additional public spaces. Authorities continue to advise working from home where possible.

Authorities could reintroduce, ease, or otherwise amend restrictions at any time based upon disease activity; local governments have the authority to tighten or loosen restrictions at their own discretion. Reunion is rated "green" on the nation's three-tiered color-coded COVID-19 activity scale, indicating the lowest rates of infection.

Background and Analysis
The easing of measures in Reunion is similar to actions undertaken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the beginning of the summer tourist season, and lower infection rates of COVID-19. As countries relax blanket restrictions across Europe, authorities could begin to reintroduce sporadic, highly targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to neighborhoods or specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary “self-policing” by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.

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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