Did Tunisia reopen too soon?

Key Points:
-Tunisia declared VICTORY over the pandemic on June 15th.
-Since then Tunisia recorded 983 COVID-19 cases, 424 out of them imported and 559 locally transmitted.

On June 15th 2020 Tunisia’s prime minster held a press conference to declare victory over the pandemic.

The former prime minster stated that his country had achieved a victory against the novel virus and pointed to the convincing statistic that Tunisia had no NEW CASES to report.

“We came out of this crisis with really important health consequences and the least damage,” he said.

Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh

Fakhfakh made the statement on a local TV channel, saying Tunisians should be proud of themselves for beating the virus.

“We came out of this crisis with really important health consequences and the least damage,” he said.

He noted that the country would reopen its borders on June 27.

Rush to Reopen…

For tour operators and the hospitality sector in Tunisia, March through June is typically one of the busiest times of the year.

On top of this: “2020 was set up to be our best year in terms of sales and numbers of tours, and even size of tours. We had big group tours coming,” said Joshua Mok, who works at Mosaic North Africa, a Canadian company that offers private tours in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. “

Naturally, the local economy was eager to restart the economy.

Tunisia reopened with a color-coded system to show which countries may enter without restrictions as the government attempts to revitalize tourism, a key sector for the country’s flailing economy.

Tunisia’s color-coded system…

The government of Tunisia divided countries into three zones (red, orange, and green) based on the number of cases and epidemiological situation in each country.  While they continue to revise the list as the pandemic evolves here’s a quick breakdown: 

·         “Red List” Countries (including the United States):  for citizens and official residents of “red” countries, only Tunisians may enter Tunisia. 

·         “Orange List” Countries:  for citizens and official residents of “orange” countries, Tunisians and tourists may enter Tunisia providing they present a negative COVID-19 lab test, with results received within 72 hours before travel to Tunisia and the analysis conducted no more than 120 hours prior to arrival.

·         “Green List” Countries:  for citizens and official residents of “green” countries, everyone may enter Tunisia without a test. 

In addition to the testing requirement, all individuals, regardless of nationality, are required to quarantine upon arrival, with Tunisians in mandatory self-quarantine at their homes and tourists in a seven-day quarantine at a hotel at their own expense.  Tourists remaining past seven days may pay for a COVID-19 test the sixth day and, if negative, may leave the hotel.

Confused travelers…

Citizens of the UK interested in traveling to Tunisia were very confused. Within a matter of 30-days they went from Orange to Green…back to Orange…and quite possibly back to Green in the coming days.

UK FCO Travel to Tunisia Guidelines

  • The UK is classified as an “Orange” country. This means that visitors from the UK wishing to travel to Tunisia must take a PCR test (which detects the presence of the virus) 72 hours before they travel. From the 26 August, all visitors to Tunisia, regardless of where they fly from, must take a PCR test 72 hours before they travel.
  • You must show evidence of your negative test result at the airport when you arrive in Tunisia.
  • Upon arrival in Tunisia you must self-isolate at your hotel or place of residence for 14 days.
  • If you wish to pay for an additional PCR test after seven days of self-isolation, you can do so at your own expense. If the result of this second test is negative you will be permitted to end your quarantine early.
  • Upon entry you must sign a declaration to confirm that you will abide by these rules.
  • The Tunisian authorities are updating country classifications regularly so please ensure you check these pages for the latest status before travelling.

See Entry requirements for more information before you plan to travel. (UPDATED on August 21, 2020)

Did Tunisia reopen too soon?

Tunisia recorded 983 COVID-19 cases, 424 out of them imported and 559 locally transmitted, in addition to six deaths.

The horizontal growth of cases pushed the country to reconsider the “VICTORY” label and restart the battle against the pandemic across the country.

The Director of Tunisia’s National Observatory for New and Emerging Diseases warned that the epidemiological situation in the country is “critical” after an increase in the number of Covid-19 infections.

So did Tunisia reopen too soon? It appears they did. This could be a result of several factors including increase travelers, increase testing, and increase social activities (wedding season) throughout the country.

Tunisia showed the world the 1st time around that they were more than capable of handling this pandemic. Let’s hope they use that experience to put balance measures in place so that that they can once again claim “victory”.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: