Call for free masks in Tahiti

3:27 pm on 24 July 2020

French Polynesia's opposition has asked the government to make masks available for free after it decided last week to make them compulsory on public transport.

Masks now compulsory on French Polynesia public transport

Masks now compulsory on French Polynesia public transport Photo: supplied

The Tavini Huiraatira party said people were worried after the borders were opened and quarantine requirements dropped last week for travellers from Europe and the United States, despite a worsening Covid-19 outbreak.

It said health was a public good, which had no price but carried a cost.

The Tavini said a box of 50 masks in a pharmacy cost $US50 which meant each masks cost as much as two bread sticks.

Last week, the government also made it mandatory to wear masks in confined public spaces but dropped the rule after one day and instead asked the public to observe social distancing.

Since last week, all passengers arriving in Tahiti have to prove that they are Covid-19 free three days before departure and self-test for the coronavirus four days after landing in Tahiti.

According to the president Edouard Fritch, more than 1,500 people had returned a negative self-test result.

He told the assembly more than 3500 self-tests had been distributed at the airport in Papeete since the restart of international tourism.

Fritch said the flights from Los Angeles had been about half full, with about 15 percent of booked passengers either failing to turn up or being refused boarding.

He defended the reopening of the territory, saying people needed to go back to work to avoid the collapse of the social welfare agency.

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