French authorities shuts down Caribbean, Polynesian islands: Journey Weekly

Fearing the spread of more deadly and contagious variants of the Covid-19 coronavirus, the French government has indefinitely closed the borders of its overseas territories, including those in the Caribbean and French Polynesia.

Caribbean destinations that fall into this category are St. Barts, St. Martin, Martinique, and Guadeloupe.

The French government took this measure “regardless of the will of our local authorities [desire] to keep St. Barts open, ”said Nils DuFau, President of the St. Barts Tourism Board. The island was one of the first in the Caribbean to reopen to visitors in late June.

DeFau said St. Barts has had “a few” Covid cases, “but we managed to keep it at bay and the situation is well managed and under control.”

“We are currently negotiating to ease the entry restrictions and find an alternative solution. Our goal is to reopen the island’s borders as soon as possible.”

Visitors currently on the island can leave within a few days.

French Polynesia, which includes the islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea, has also temporarily suspended inbound tourism, citing “the recurrence of Covid-19 cases around the world”.

Le Tahaa Island Resort & Spa. Photo credit: Jeri Clausing

Senior Editor Jeri Clausing explored culture and history on a visit to prepandemic French Polynesia.

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In a statement, the official French Polynesia tourism website, Tahiti Tourisme, announced that the travel suspension would come into effect on February 3, with the duration of the measure “set in the coming days”.

Travelers currently in French Polynesia planning to return this week can complete their trips as planned. However, travelers departing beyond this point are advised to contact their airline to confirm their flight schedule.

According to a government update posted online, there will be exceptions to the travel freeze, with those traveling due to a serious personal or family matter, health emergency, or urgent professional reason being allowed to enter the destination. Travelers are only allowed to board a flight to French Polynesia if they present documentation showing that their reason for travel falls under one of these three categories.

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All passengers 11 years and older entering the destination must still provide evidence of a negative PCR test performed less than three days prior to travel.

French Polynesia had previously been reopened to international tourism on July 15.