13 Jul 2020

France curbs air travel to its overseas territories

6:17 am on 13 July 2020

The French government has decreed a ban on air travel to and from many of its overseas territories to fight the Covid-19 pandemic while granting exemptions in urgent cases.

The decree was published as French Polynesia is this week scheduled to drop quarantine requirements for arriving passengers to encourage a restart of tourism, being the only South Pacific destination open for travellers.

The decree foremost targets Mayotte and French Guiana where about 6000 Covid-19 cases have been recorded, prompting Paris to extend the state of emergency there to the end of October.

Both French Guiana in South America and and Mayotte in the Indian Ocean are French departments and part of the eurozone.

Travel is only allowed for urgent personal matters, medical reasons or professional reasons, which have to be documented.

The decree specifies that the travel restrictions also apply to French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna, but adds that the French High Commissioner is authorised to adjust criteria allowing access to the territories.

Last week, the French Polynesian government said arriving tourists would be given a kit to test themselves for Covid-19.

Flights between Tahiti and Paris restarted a week ago, and from 15 July Air Tahiti Nui will also resume its return flights to Los Angeles.

While encouraging tourists to visit, the authorities in French Polynesia asked locals to defer international travel.

The French prime minister Jean Castex is due in French Guiana on Sunday for a one-day visit.