Martinique Asks Tourists to Leave As French Caribbean Returns to Lockdown
That dream vacation to the French Caribbean is going to have to wait.
The French government is tightening coronavirus restrictions in Martinique and Guadeloupe — two popular Caribbean vacation destinations — to counter rising infection rates that are overwhelming local hospitals.
On Tuesday, Martinique entered a three-week lockdown and advised tourists to leave the island, Reuters reported. The island's beaches and nonessential shops have been ordered closed.
Anyone remaining in Martinique will be prohibited from traveling more than a half mile from home, the Associated Press reported.
On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron described the situation in the French Caribbean as "cruel proof" that vaccinations are working, the news service AFP reported. Vaccination rates remain low in Martinique and Guadeloupe, with far fewer eligible people being fully vaccinated in the French territories than in France.
In France, more than half the population has been fully vaccinated, according to Reuters. That figure is thanks in part to a new requirement that patrons of restaurants, bars, and more present a digital health pass for entry.
In Martinique, less than 20% of the population has been vaccinated and the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has been climbing, according to data from the World Health Organization. And at least 184 residents of Martinique have been killed by the coronavirus.
Meanwhile in Guadeloupe, less than 15% of the local population has been fully vaccinated. Guadeloupe has reported nearly 9,000 new COVID-19 cases in the past month — about one-third the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases it has reported during the entire pandemic, WHO data shows.
Local officials in Guadeloupe describe the island's hospital system as severely strained, with 10 COVID-19 patients being put into intensive care on a single day last week.