June 29 – July 05, 2020 | Press Review Tunisia

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

July 04, 2020: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia… When COVID-19 prevents the return to the country

For them, summer is the season of return to their homeland. The epidemic has forced them to reconsider their habits and question their relationship to the “bled”. “Our holidays? It was the trip to the hinterland. Our holidays, it was even the trip more than the holidays…” It’s a sketch by Jamel Debbouze in which many children of immigrants could recognize themselves. Time has passed since those childhood memories, trunks have disappeared from car roofs, and the price of plane tickets has gone down. But for many, returning home during the summer remains a ritual they did not deviate from… until the COVID-19 crisis. On 1 July, uncertainty still reigned: air and sea links between France and Morocco or Algeria were still suspended, with mandatory quarantine on arrival in Tunisia. “If I don’t leave, it will be painful,” admits Faouzi, a doctor in Paris who travels to Tunisia every year. The government decreed that arrivals had to be isolated for a week in a hotel, at their own expense, before being tested. The problem is that people who tested negative turned out to be positive and caused a cluster. Now we’re talking about a 14-day isolation. It’s not worth it”.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

July 03, 2020: COVID-19: Lighter Measures for Tunisians Returning from Abroad

Children under the age of 12 are no longer obliged to present the results of the coronavirus screening test (RT-PCR), announced the presidency of the government, in a press release published this Friday, July 3, 2020. Tunisians residing abroad and their spouses, Tunisian or foreign, having a place of residence in Tunisia, will no longer have to present the results of the RT-PCR screening test if they come from a country where this test is difficult to carry out or from a country with an average spread of the coronavirus. The only condition maintained is mandatory confinement for 10 days, at their own expense, in one of the centers made available by the State, the list of which will be published on the sites of Tunisian embassies and consulates abroad. But visitors must also undertake to respect the protection measures of others: physical distance, protective mask, disinfectant gel… In case of justified reason, the TREs may not present an RT-PCR screening test but they must obtain the prior agreement of the Ministry of Health, specifies the press release of the Presidency of the Government. In addition, children under the age of 12 returning from countries with a high spread of the virus are required to perform self-isolation with a parent, instead of a mandatory period of confinement. The new epidemic classification announced by the Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases (ONME) will be taken into consideration when applying containment measures 24 hours after its publication.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

July 02, 2020: Tunisia eager to receive North African tourists

The WHO said that Tunisia is one of the few countries in the world with only sporadic cases, commonly referred to in Tunisia as “imported” cases, reported in particular by Tunisian nationals working in the Gulf. Only one local case has been recorded since 20 May. The source of contamination is known. The measure to open the borders has objectively followed this success despite the sometimes excessive caution of the scientific committee. Travel to and from abroad is, however, treated on a case-by-case basis, depending on the control of the pandemic. Special attention has been announced for the opening of land borders, for two reasons. On the one hand, Algerians and Libyans are the first two nationalities coming to Tunisia, especially after the revolution of January 14, 2011. The Algerians are largely in the lead with nearly three million tourists in 2019, followed by the Libyans with 1.6 million entries. Algerians have regularly saved the tourist season during lean years, especially in 2015, the year of the rise of terrorist attacks in Tunisia. 1.6 million Algerians defied terrorism and came to spend their holidays in Tunisia, offering a breath of fresh air to a dying industry. And they have continued to do so ever since.

The other factor requiring special attention from the Tunisian authorities is to control the spread of the virus, with a massive flow that can exceed 10,000 passages a day from Libya and Algeria. The Tunisians are therefore trying to be effective in reviving their national economy by welcoming Algerians and Libyans, while being cautious in controlling the spread of COVID-19. This equation may be impossible to solve. Indeed, and by way of example, the Tunisian authorities cannot ask for PCR tests on land borders, which are too expensive and impossible to carry out for neighbours travelling in large families. The cost of the tests is likely to exceed the cost of the stay in Tunisia. Nevertheless, the health situation in Algeria urges Tunisians to be cautious, especially since the authorities in the neighbouring country have not deigned to reopen their borders, even though the European Union has declared that it accepts Algerians on Schengen territory. Averages of between 200 and 300 contaminations have been recorded in Algeria over the last few days. Caution is therefore called for.

A breath of Oxygen
Apart from these two special cases of land borders, foreign countries have been classified into three categories, green, orange and red. Countries in the “green” zone are those that have controlled the pandemic. No conditions are required of residents of these countries who come to Tunisia. Italy and Germany are on this list. Residents from the “orange” zone countries, on the other hand, are required to present a negative PCR test, dating from 72 hours ago, and to fulfil a commitment to observe a 14-day voluntary confinement at home. Countries such as France and Morocco fall into this category. Travellers from countries in the “red” zone must have a negative PCR test and a reservation in a containment hotel for one week, at the passenger’s expense. A second PCR test is planned at the end of this confinement. If it proves to be negative, the tourist can spend the second week of confinement at home.
Tunisia is certainly struggling to get its economy out of the crisis. But this is not easy since its European partners are also living in the midst of a crisis. The recession is widespread. Demand is therefore weak and there is less demand for Tunisian products. The crisis is not only affecting the tourism sector. Even the exporting industries are struggling to regain their usual share of the European market, especially as the old continent is trying to save, first, the countries of the European Union, such as Portugal or Greece. The salvation should therefore come from Algeria and Libya. The equation seems difficult to solve.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

July 02, 2020: Tunisia has lost 2 years of growth in the field of electronic banking

The COVID-19 pandemic caused Tunisia to lose two years of growth in terms of electronic banking to reach the 2018 level, reveals a study conducted by Monétique Tunisie on the impact on withdrawals, VSE payments and e-commerce in Tunisia during the period March-May 2020. Thus, the volume of electronic banking transactions reached 2.9 billion dinars, during the confinement, almost the same level of the period from March to May 2018 (2.8 billion dinars), while the expected figure was 4 billion dinars. According to this study conducted in collaboration with the consulting firm Quantylix and transmitted Thursday to the TAP Agency, this health crisis has led to a decline of about 40% of bank withdrawals, with a strong affluence during the week preceding the confinement. In addition, a change in behavior in terms of withdrawals following the abolition of interchange fees has been observed, notes the same source, stressing that this measure has prompted Tunisians to no longer favor withdrawals from ATMs of their banks.

A significant slowdown in local payment activity (on Eftpos terminals) has also been recorded, with a drop of around 75%, a return to the 2016 level, despite the incentive measures, namely the abolition of commissions paid by merchants for purchases below 100d. With regard to e-commerce, the study revealed a relative stability in this sector despite the perception of a change in the behaviour of Tunisians favouring online purchases.
In reality, there has been a substitution between the tourism sector (air transport/hoteling/travel agencies) which has experienced a significant decline and other activities, mainly telephone recharge and bill payments. According to Khaled Bettaieb, Managing Director of Monétique Tunisie, this study will serve as a basis for further analysis in order to better predict the recovery and the avenues to be considered in order to accelerate the growth of the electronic banking sector, vital to Decashing and the creation of value in the digital age.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

July 01, 2020: Security Council Adopts Tunisian-French Initiative to Combat COVID-19

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved, on Wednesday 1 July 2020, the resolution submitted by Tunisia and France concerning the fight against the “COVID-19” Corona pandemic. This decision comes after long negotiations that have lasted more than four months since its presentation last March in its Tunisian formula to the members of the Council. The resolution stipulates the cessation of armed conflict for a specific period and calls on the various parties concerned to observe a humanitarian truce to allow the necessary aid to be delivered. It also confirms that situations of violence and instability resulting from such conflicts can lead to the spread of the epidemic and prevent the ability to contain its effects. Furthermore, the failure to contain the pandemic will, on the other hand, have serious repercussions on international peace and security.

The resolution also requires that peacekeeping operations be authorized to carry out the tasks entrusted to them in various conflict areas. As a reminder, the Tunisian project has been welcomed by the Security Council since its proposal by President Kaïs Saïed of the Republic, as well as during a series of consultations and contacts that it has had with a number of heads of brotherly and friendly countries on the Tunisian project, which France subsequently joined to become a Tunisian-French project.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

July 01, 2020: Is Tunisia among the top 10 countries in its fight against COVID-19?

Moez Hammami CEO Quantylix evaluated this morning the effectiveness of Tunisia in its fight against the spread of COVID-19 in Tunisia. Hammami wanted to return first to the evaluation of the confrontation of the first wave before addressing the possibility of a second wave. The analyst then referred to the statements of the Head of Government who had announced Tunisia’s victory over the Coronavirus, and even indicated that Tunisia was placed among the first countries to successfully confront the epidemic and even in second place. However, the CEO of Quantylix explained that if we consider any metric, Tunisia would not be placed in the top ten of the best countries in the fight against the virus. He added at best we can say, and with pride, that we are among the 25% of the best countries in the world in the fight against the coronavirus.

For more information (in French), please visit the following link.

July 01, 2020: Tunisia schedules 16 repatriation flights for Tunisians

Tunisia has scheduled 16 flights for the repatriation of Tunisian nationals residing in countries not classified in the Green and Orange Zones. Respectively low and medium spread coronavirus. For the period from 1 July to 14 July 2020. According to the Ministry of Transport and Logistics.
Indeed, the program of repatriation flights concerns 13 destinations. These are :
-Moscow (Russia);
-Brussels (Belgium);
-Abidjan /Cotonou;
-Doha (Qatar);
-Dubai(United Arab Emirates);
-London (United Kingdom);
-Sharjah(United Arab Emirates);
-Istanbul (Turkey);
-Muscat (Sultanate of Oman);
-Jeddah and Riyadh (Saudi Arabia).

In addition, it is mandatory for every traveller to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test carried out 72 hours prior to check-in at an airport in these countries . And this, before boarding. And not exceeding 120 hours, on arrival in Tunisia. Moreover, “travellers are required to commit to a mandatory confinement of 7 days in a hotel at their expense and must fill out a health data form before leaving the airport”. Specified the same source.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

June 30, 2020: Tunisian draft resolution to be adopted Thursday by the Security Council

Tunisia is not losing hope of having the UN Security Council adopt its draft resolution co-sponsored by France calling for a cessation of hostilities to facilitate the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Tunisia’s ambassador and permanent representative to the UN, Kaïs Kabtani, confirmed to Espace Manager that the text was put to the vote on Tuesday and that Tunisia has managed to reach a historic compromise after very complicated negotiations. Thus, the draft resolution is to be adopted at a meeting on the pandemic to be held the day after tomorrow, Thursday, in the Security Council, hosted by Germany. If that is the case, it will be a great victory for Tunisia, the initiator of the draft resolution, and an indisputable success for the diplomacy led by President Kaïs Saïed. A success to be credited to Ambassador Permanent Representative Kaïs Kabtani, who recently took up his duties. The new draft is, like the previous one, focused on the demand for an immediate and general cessation of hostilities in all conflicts on the Security Council’s agenda, with the exception of fighting against jihadist groups. It calls for a humanitarian pause for at least 90 consecutive days to facilitate international assistance to the population.

In a new development, the preamble of the resolution contains a reminder of a resolution adopted on 2 April by the UN General Assembly on the need for global solidarity to combat the virus. The hope in the Security Council, according to diplomats, is that this reminder will be enough to satisfy both China, which wanted a reference to the WHO, and the United States, which did not want one, blaming the UN agency for poor management of the crisis. The second paragraph of the Assembly’s resolution commits the 193 members of the United Nations to provide all necessary support and cooperation to the World Health Organization. If adopted, the new draft resolution would be the first text on the virus approved by the Security Council and its first real official position since the outbreak of the pandemic. Its paralysis for more than three months has often been denounced and has largely undermined its credibility, with some Council members going so far as to confess their shame. During the negotiations, the United States and China, the two largest financial contributors to the United Nations, had both threatened to use their veto power. On 8 May, Washington had blocked a vote on the text after giving its partners an agreement in principle. It remains to be seen whether a Security Council call for a cessation of hostilities can still have an impact. Although the text may seem late, it is better late than never.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

June 30, 2020: Nizar Yaïche: Urgent decisions to remedy the shortcomings at Tunis Carthage Airport

Decisions will be taken to remedy the shortcomings at Tunis-Carthage International Airport and will be announced on Tuesday 30 June or Wednesday 1 July, Finance Minister Mohamed Nizar Yaiche announced on Monday 29 June. During a visit on Monday afternoon at the Tunis-Carthage International Airport in the company of the Ministers of Transport and Logistics, Mohamed Anour Maarouf, and Tourism and Handicrafts, Mohamed Ali Toumi, where they noted a number of shortcomings related mainly to baggage handling, lack of equipment and work organization. On this occasion, Maarouf noted shortcomings in the handling of travelers’ luggage, including the accumulation of some suitcases and boxes in a corner of the belt of luggage. He asked airport officials for a detailed report on the negligence of this luggage, saying that “baggage handling is a priority and we do not tolerate any failures in this area”.

Ridha Nasri, the regional general secretary of the United Customs Union, told TAP that the luggage is in transit and was brought to the airport well before the airport was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The three ministers also expressed their satisfaction with the respect of health measures during the reception of travellers, all of whom were wearing masks, noted the TAP correspondent on the spot. The Minister of Tourism, for his part, welcomed the conditions of reception of passengers at the international airport of Tunis-Carthage, noting “a fluidity in the reception of travellers and the respect of sanitary procedures”. Toumi evoked, on this occasion, the size of the international airport of Tunis-Carthage, which extends over a small area, whereas it constitutes the first and the last point of contact for the tourist and therefore must reflect a good image of the country and requires greater attention at all levels.

Tunisia reopened its air, sea and land borders on Saturday, June 27, 2020 with the aim, in particular, of saving the tourist sector severely impacted by the coronavirus crisis (COVID-19). The country is preparing for the revival of tourist activities, after having adopted several health measures, including, mainly, the Tunisian anti-COVID-19 tourism health protocol ” (250 hygiene instructions), drawn up by the Ministry of Tourism, in accordance with the recommendations of the WHO and the Ministry of Health. It should be recalled that the commander of Tunis-Carthage airport, Neji Zitoun, had declared on 27 June 2020 that only 30% of flights have been authorized following the reopening of the airspace and all the borders of Tunisia until 11 July 2020. And to add that 5 flights were scheduled daily to Paris against 15 previously.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

June 29, 2020: New wave of contamination starting next fall

Tunisia will not be safe from a second wave of coronavirus by COVID-19 as early as next autumn. And this, after the reopening of borders, according to the Minister of Health, Abdellatif Mekki. Abdellatif Mekki said that climate change has a direct effect on the spread of COVID-19. And this, despite the opinion of most scientists. Those who have claimed that falling temperatures have no impact on the pandemic. The minister noted the need to prepare properly for this new wave. Through compliance with preventive measures. Namely, wearing masks, social distancing, hand washing… He explained that international organizations had raised the possibility of a second wave. This was in view of the health situation in the world. He added that Tunisia is closely following the evolution of the pandemic at the regional level and in all countries of the world. In response to questions about the risks of contamination after the borders reopened on June 27, Mekki said it is no longer possible to continue closing borders. Even if citizens’ fears are justified.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

June 29, 2020: Maritime Crossing Health Protocol

The opening of air and sea borders on Saturday 27 June 2020 was accompanied by health protocols for air, land and sea links. In the specific context of sea crossings, the Tunisian Navigation Company (CTN) has just launched its health protocol, including a set of measures and procedures to be followed by passengers during check-in, boarding, and during the crossing on board ships. This protocol, designed to mitigate the risk of coronavirus spread, is based on rules and instructions defined by the International Maritime Organization, the World Health Organization and the Tunisian structures concerned. Thus, the CTN indicates that for countries belonging to the “green zone”, the COVID-19 RT-PCR screening test is not required.

As regards the “orange zone”, a negative result of the COVID-19 RT-PCR virological screening test must be obtained 72 hours prior to embarkation, and no more than 120 hours after disembarkation”. For travellers from “red zone” countries, passengers must carry, in addition to a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR virological test result, a voucher for a confirmed hotel reservation for one week. In this specific case, the CTN points out that for passengers arriving by car, a third person is required to pick up the car at the port”. It also specifies that the list of hotels for containment will be circulated shortly by the Tunisian Health Authorities).

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.