Tourists told to leave island of Martinique as French territory faces increased restrictions amid wave of Covid-19 cases

Martinique ordered tourists to leave the island on Tuesday ahead of the implementation of stricter Covid-19 restrictions, as part of the French overseas territory’s “second phase” of lockdown measures.

The West Indies island territory had previously introduced an evening curfew but, from 7pm Tuesday, non-essential shops and beaches will be closed, with restrictions imposed on citizens’ movements.

Stanislas Cazelles, Martinique’s prefect, confirmed the new containment measures on Twitter, asking tourists to “end their stay” on the island and travel to the airport during non-curfew hours. 

The order for tourists to leave the territory was paired with an announcement that hotels will be closed, except to workers and individuals who are residents of the island, with the restriction extended to seasonal rental properties.

The Covid-19 measures will remain in place until “the health situation has improved,” with citizens asked to stay within a one-kilometer radius of their homes. A review of the rules, which officials admit are “strict,” will take place in 15 days.

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Martinique has experienced a spike in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, with the territory reporting one of France’s highest Covid-19 incidence rates, pushing hospitals to 227% capacity amid a slow vaccine rollout.

To support the island, France’s health minister, Olivier Veran, called for doctors and nurses to volunteer to support the country’s overseas territories, with 240 medical professionals arriving in Martinique on Tuesday. Veran will visit Martinique on Thursday, as part of France’s offer of support and assistance.

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