Severity: Warning Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in Seychelles continue phased reopening of borders through July. Low-level travel and business disruptions likely.

  • Alert Begins: 08 Jul 2020 11:32 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Low-level travel and business disruptions

Summary
The phased reopening of Seychellois borders, which began June 1, is ongoing as of July 8; however, an increased number of cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been reported following the arrival of several chartered flights in recent days. Authorities have stated that they have no plans to close the country's borders following the increased number of cases.

The reopening of the country's borders will continue in two phases, with the ongoing first phase focusing on the easing of travel restrictions in the country. Private and chartered flights are permitted; however, visitors arriving in Seychelles will have to undergo a COVID-19 test 48 hours prior to arrival atSeychelles International Airport (SEZ). International passenger flights are still considered high risk and are prohibited through at least July. It is not clear what phase two entails and when it will be implemented. These measures may be revised in the coming days.

As part of the implementation of phase one, travelers will be charged a health fee to cover any further local health procedures imposed by the Public Health Authority. The inner islands of Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue are restricted from visitors until further notice. Locals are now permitted to travel abroad, and sea transportation is permitted to enter the territory; however, passengers are required to self-quarantine for 14 days before disembarking.

Sporting events have resumed, and bars and restaurants are permitted to reopen. All resorts can be reopened, provided persons adhere to social distancing and sanitation methods. New travel and safety guidelines have been issued to assess establishment readiness before being permitted to reopen.

Much of the business and retail sector - postal service, tourism, schools, and indoor religious services - can begin to reopen; however,shops, retail, and wholesale outlets will be required to close 2000-0600. The additional relaxation of measures is expected in the coming days, but public gatherings of more than four people, including on beaches, remain banned. Persons contravening movement or travel restrictions are subject to a fine or arrest. Amendments to this are likely to be implemented on short notice if the number of COVID-19 cases increases.

Background and Analysis
The widespread easing of restrictions is one of the first in Africa following months of lockdown measures triggered by the spread of COVID-19. However, the recent spike in case numbers has prompted authorities to threaten a shutdown of businesses and institutions who contravene social distancing measures. 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
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 nonemergency health appointments.

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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