Seychelles will re-open its border to commercial passenger flights from low- or medium-risk COVID-19 countries beginning of August to revive the tourism sector with a new structure put in place to manage the re-opening, said a top health official.
The Public Health Commissioner, Jude Gedeon, told a press conference on Tuesday that the Aug. 1 reopening will be done under a national framework for the integrated management of reopening Seychelles' borders. Under the framework, countries are classified in three risk categories; low, medium and high risk.
Gedeon said the three categories are based on "the trends in outbreak, potential for travellers to get infected, testing pattern, ratio of recent case to one month ago and the quality of data."
He pointed out that countries in the low risk category which are part of the island nation's tourism markets currently are Switzerland and Ireland. The countries which are the main markets for Seychelles such as Germany, Italy and France are in the medium risk group with England still in a high risk category.
Based on these criteria, the authorities "can decide from which countries we can allow visitors and what they have to do before they can come to Seychelles without putting our country at a higher risk."
Although the passengers will not be quarantined, they will have to observe certain regulations under the national framework.
This includes a mandatory PCR test done 72 hours before departure for visitors coming from medium-risk countries and an antigen test for those from low-risk countries.
"The second filter is how the booking is done. It has to be done through travel agents and visitors need to have their booking voucher," said Gedeon, adding that "visitors will stay in establishments approved by the Ministry of Tourism."
Additionally, airlines are already boosting security measures onboard their aircraft to make travelling safer.
Although visitors will not be placed in quarantine as of Aug. 1, the establishment where they will be staying must be aware of where they are through maintaining daily movement records.
Gedeon added that "when the visitors are at their respective accommodation, they will not have to wear face masks, but should they use public transport, such as buses or taxis they will have to do so. The taxi drivers will have to keep a log of the visitors who avail of their services. This will be used as a tracking measure."
Before the reopening in August, two evaluations of the measures will be carried out on July 14 and 21.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is free of COVID-19 and reopened its international airport to commercial flights for private jets and chartered flights on June 1.