As of Oct. 17, authorities in the French Caribbean islands have increased restrictions, some of them introduced by the French national government, to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Per the most recent directives, the following restrictions will be enforced in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Martin, and Saint Barthelemy until at least Nov. 2:
- A ban on gatherings of more than six people in public locations
- Gatherings inside households should be limited to six people, and attendants should wear a protective face covering
- A ban on gatherings in establishments open to the public
- Individuals must maintain a distance of at least one seat between one another; groups must be limited to six people, and the use of a protective face covering is mandatory in all public places
- Employees should work from home whenever possible
Additionally, some local governments have imposed or extended several restrictions:
Air travel to and from Martinique and Saint Martin is banned, except for compelling health, family, or professional reasons. There is no ban on travel to and from Metropolitan France or Saint Barthelemy, as well as for travelers from French Guiana. However, travel from Guadeloupe to French Guiana is prohibited, except for health, family, or professional reasons. All passengers allowed to enter Guadeloupe must present proof of having tested negative for COVID-19 using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken no more than three days prior to arrival.
Starting Oct. 17, bars, casinos, and nightclubs must close, dance activities are prohibited, and restaurants must close nightly at 0000. The use of a protective face covering is required for all residents over the age of 11 in any gathering of more than three people, in busy streets, and any establishment open to the public.
Starting Oct. 19, access to the beaches is allowed between 0500-1900, but consumption of food or alcohol is banned. Stadiums may open for up to 300 people; at least one empty seat must be kept between those in attendance, and everyone must wear protective face coverings.
Air and maritime travel from Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, and Saint Barthelemy is banned, except for compelling health, family, or professional reasons. Those allowed to travel must present proof of the purpose of their trip, as well as a declaration stating they do not have COVID-19 symptoms and that they have not been in contact with someone with COVID-19 in the previous 14 days. Travelers from Metropolitan France are allowed to enter Martinique, as long as they provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within the 72 hours prior to the trip.
Businesses in Martinique, including restaurants, retail stores, malls, conference centers and sport venues, can open between 0500-2200 daily. Residents are allowed to leave their homes between 2200-0500, but authorities urge them to limit their time outside of their households.
Travel to and from Guadeloupe and Martinique is banned, except for compelling health, family, or professional reasons.
All businesses allowed to operate must enhance sanitation procedures and enforce social distancing measures.
Local governments could reinstate their own stricter measures, including curfews and other movement restrictions, depending on local disease activity. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. 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.