French Polynesia leader justifies Covid-19 policies

4:14 pm on 30 October 2020

The French Polynesian president Edouard Fritch has defended the reopening of the border in July, saying there is no doubt from late May that the territory was 'Covid-19-prepared'.

Mr Fritch made the comment in the assembly as the pandemic has infected more than 7,000 people and killed 29.

The virus had earlier been eliminated with a lockdown from late March.

Edouard Fritch presents his reshuffled government

Edouard Fritch presents his reshuffled government Photo: supplied

He says it would have been irresponsible to keep the borders shut and let numerous businesses die, thereby condemning 20000 wage earners to unemployment.

Mr Fritch says in the face of an increase of Covid-19 cases in September, French Polynesia solicited the French prime minister Jean Castex to authorise a curfew in Tahiti and Moorea.

It was declared last weekend but shortened to allow more people go to work early in the morning.

He says for legal reasons the French government was engaged to counter the risk of the measure being undone by the courts as there are lawyers who amuse themselves with challenging such decisions.

In May, a curfew was lifted after it was declared illegal, with the judges describing it as a serious attack on individual liberty.

In July, quarantine requirements were abolished to boost tourism.

A month later, Covid-19 cases reemerged, with Mr Fritch at the time predicting that case numbers would plateau at about 200.

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