Coronavirus COVID-19 in Bora Bora : is it safe? informations and updates

As of January 20th 2021 there are 36 active cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in Bora Bora.

Covid-19 In French Polynesia latest updates

As of January 20th 2021, there are a total of 17 697 cumulative cases of coronavirus on French Polynesia.

Most of the cases of Coronavirus Covid-19 are located in the urban communes of Tahiti (Tahiti is 170 miles/ 277 kilometers away from Bora Bora and 51 minutes away from Bora Bora by plane) and Moorea (Moorea is about 145 miles/ 234 kilometers away from Bora Bora and 47 minutes away by plane) . Fort the first time since the pandemic started in 2020, a small cluster have orginated in Bora Bora and we sadly report to have 36 active cases in Bora Bora.

Last update for French Polynesia January 8th 2021 at 8 am

  • New cases = 62* (in 72h)
  • Cumulative cases = 17 697 (since March 13th 2020)
  • Current hospitalizations = 38, 20 in Intensive Care
  • Deaths = 127 (+1 in the last 72 hours)

*Cases confirmed by a test

Please click here for official updates on the confirmed cases in French Polynesia (website in French).

French Polynesia entry conditions

The borders of French Polynesia are re-open to international tourism from all countries , since July 15th, 2020. To avoid the spread of the virus local authorities have established the next strong sanitary measures

Also, the authorities of French Polynesia have declared a state of health emergency with the application of reinforced measures through Feburary 15th, 2021.

A curfew is in effect on the islands of Tahiti and Moorea. All trips, circulation or movement in public areas are prohibited, every day, between 9:00 pm and 4:00 am through February 15, 2021 with the possibility to extend it. The official statement can be downloaded on the website of the High Commission. Find the curfew terms and conditions in the frequently asked questions.

Entry requirements prior departure

French Polynesia has confirmed conditions of entry and stay in the country applicable to all travelers from 11 years old (resident and non-resident) arriving by air.

Since July 15th, 2020, quarantine measures have been lifted and French Polynesia’s borders are open to international tourism from all countries. All travelers are subject to the following mandatory conditions

  • A SARS-CoV-2 virus genome test (list of approved and non approved tests) has to be carried out by all travelers from 11 years old in a health authority center (hospital, clinic, medical centre, Covid-19 testing Center, or medical analysis laboratory) within three days before the flight to Tahiti (at the passenger’s expense).

Ex: If the flight departs on a Monday at 11pm, the passenger needs to take the test the preceding Friday.

Please note for example, that Antigen, Antibody, Self Testing or Rapid Tests of any kind, including rapid RT-PCR tests such as the Abbott ID are not accepted by the Health Authorities of French Polynesia and aircraft boarding will be denied. Consult the list of approved and non approved tests.

The results of this test must be negative and will need to be presented to airline staff upon check-in prior to boarding the flight to French Polynesia.

No boarding will be allowed if the test is positive.

  • Sanitary entry form online (Etis.pf)

After obtaining the negative test results, each adult must fill out a digital Sanitary entry form online on the dedicated platform (Etis.pf) mainly agreeing to:

  • Respect the prevention measures and all health safety instructions issued by the authorities of French Polynesia for the pre-boarding phase, during the flight,  disembarkation and throughout the stay;
  • Call the emergency health line at 40 455 000 in case of cough, fever or respiratory difficulty. If the traveler feels any sign of distress, they should dial “15” (emergency services);
  • Submit to the health surveillance system established by the government of French Polynesia which, among other health protocols, mandates a self-test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus 4 days after arrival French Polynesia;
  • Have travel insurance or personally assume all expenses related to cost of care including hospitalization, confinement, or repatriation, should the visitor fall ill during their stay;
  • Provide information about the stay in French Polynesia (except for residents) : itinerary, inter-island transport, accommodation (e-mail contacts / telephone / dates of stay).

The Sanitary entry form is to be completed online on the dedicated digital platform ETIS.pf [Electronic Travel Information System].

Once completed a receipt with an ETIS number will be issued by email;

A printout of this receipt must be presented upon check-in together with the test results in order to be able to board the flight to French Polynesia and  both documents will need to be presented upon arrival at Tahiti’s Faa’a international airport.

The  printout receipt of the health engagement form is to be kept with the traveler at all times and in all places during their stay in French Polynesia.

In order to find a certified Covid19 testing facility, you may want to check the following web sites :

For the United States :

coronavirus COVID-19 in Bora Bora

Safety requirements during the flight

Safety requirements during the stay

Wearing a mask is mandatory (from the age of 11 years old):

  • in all enclosed places and ERPs,
  • in certain open-air public spaces (parks, markets, garage sales, etc.),
  • in the vicinity of certain places (schools, airports, ferry terminals, places of worship, sports facilities, etc.),
  • on public transport,
  • during authorized gatherings (funeral ceremonies, protest events, professional gatherings, guided tours, etc.).
  • Failure to comply with these requirements is punishable by a fine of up to €745.82.
  • Respecting prevention measures at all times and in all places;
  • In case of a change of itinerary, travelers should update the “itinerary” part of their file on the Etis.pf website;
  • In addition to the test required prior to departure, a self-test provided by French Polynesia, will need to be carried out on the fourth day after arrival in the destination. An envelope will be given to each traveler upon their arrival at the airport. This test consists of an oral and nasal swab, to be self-performed at the date indicated on the envelope containing a self-test kit with instructions and an information note.
  • Self-diagnosis of visitors: in case of doubt on the traveler’s state of health (fever and/or flu symptoms), they are required to contact the reception of their accommodations and/or call directly to (+689) 40 455 000. If they feel any sign of distress, they should dial “15” (emergency services);
  • Depending on the diagnosis made by the Health Authorities, follow their instructions which may include isolation measures and / or carrying out an additional RT-PCR test.

Is Bora Bora free of coronavirus?

Not anymore. For the first time since since the start of the pandemy, there is a small cluster of 36 positive cases in Bora Bora.

What is the current situation of coronavirus Covid-19 in Bora Bora?

Being a secluded island in the middle of the Pacific ocean, Bora Bora have remained in a little bubble, safe and protected until December 2020, when a small local cluster started. Currently as per January 20th 2021 we sadly report 36 local active cases of residents with Coronavirus Covid-19 in Bora Bora.

If you want to follow the evolution day to day of Bora Bora town, you can check the next link https://www.facebook.com/CommuneBoraBora, is the official Facebook Page of the island, information in french.

Coronavirus is causing major problems for Bora Bora’s economy, bringing setbacks that could take years to recover from. 

Due to the travel ban, the island was lockdown to any international flights, cruise ships or boats since March 18th until July 15th 2020.

All resorts, hotels were temporary closed for four months because they couldn’t afford to open without international clients. We don’t have official numbers about the job count fall in the service and tourist industry. But because Bora Bora is a 100 % driven by tourism, from the 20th of March almost all the island was unemployed.

The hotels helped giving forced paid vacations to their employees and the fallout was softened by a series of relief bills coming from the Government.

Three hotels have decided to use this off time to renovate. Le Méridien and Sofitel Marara and Sofitel Private Island have temporary closed, leaving hundreds unemployed.

Currently the resorts are welcoming guest , all resorts have reinforced health and safety standars, everyone practice social distance, all activities / restaurants are outside, all staff wear masks, and the concierges/front desk are accessible via app, chat or email to limit person-to-person contact. Everybody is happy to welcome tourism again and save the economy.

Please help us to protect our island following the next saftery measures:

https://youtu.be/K03ZGFs9w_g

Can I get a negative Covid-19 test in Bora Bora before leaving French Polynesia?

No, currently there are no labs, or options for getting tested in Bora Bora. The clinic of Bora Bora performs tests only if you suffer from symptoms but doesn’t provide pre-flight options for travellers. Government agencies are working to organize a collection network for additional islands (sampling, transmission to the Lab Institute, obtaining the results and payment) and will provide details as soon as available. For now, travelers should therefore be advised to go to the island of Tahiti before their departure and choose one of the options below.

Beginning January 26, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires all passengers 2 years of age or older on a flight to the United States, regardless of their immunization status, to present at check-in :

  • A negative result from a Covid-19 viral test carried out within 3 days prior to their international flight;
  • or, in the case of a previous Covid-19 infection within the last 3 months prior to departure, a positive viral test result, along with an official letter from a physician indicating that the passenger has made a full recovery and is authorized to travel..

Virological tests for nucleic acid amplification RT-PCR and rapid antigenic tests are tests accepted and authorized by the French Polynesian Health Authority.

Test result documents must clearly state the name of the medical authority that performed the test, the date of the test, the type of test performed, the name of the traveler and the test result. In case of a negative result, the document must clearly state “NEGATIVE RNA SARS-COV2 NON-DETECTED” or “NEGATIVE RNA SARS-COV2 NON-DETECTED” or “COVID 19 NON-DETECTED”.

French Polynesia government agencies are working to organize a collection network for additional islands (sampling, transmission to the Lab Institute, obtaining the results and payment) and will provide details as soon as available. For the latest updates please visit regularly updated COVID-19 Traveller Insights Dashboard 

* The traveller should check with the health authorities of the country of destination what type of test is required but an RT-PCR test will cover all requirements.

Air Tahiti Nui rapid antigen Covid-19 between 4 hours and 1 hour prior to departure, on Tahiti Airport

Air Tahiti Nui will allow all passengers booked on its flights to Los Angeles to perform a rapid antigen Covid-19 test between 4 hours and 1 hour prior to departure, on the site of Tahiti-Faa’a airport.

These tests are rapid antigen RAPIDTECH tests which detect the presence of the SARS-COV-2 virus responsible for Covid-19 through a nasopharyngeal sample (in the nose). The results will be delivered in less than 15 minutes.

These tests will be offered at a flat fee of USD 40 / XPF 5,000 per test.

Only passengers booked on an immediate departing flight will be accepted, upon presentation of a valid Air Tahiti Nui ticket.

The United States center for Disease Control (CDC), has required that effective from January 26, 2021, all incoming passengers, 2 years and older of any nationality arriving in the United States from any country, regardless of vaccination status must have a negative Covid-19 test:

Air Tahiti Nui will allow all passengers booked on its flights to Los Angeles to perform a rapid antigen Covid-19 test between 4 hours and 1 hour prior to departure, on the site of Tahiti-Faa’a airport.

These tests are rapid antigen RAPIDTECH tests which detect the presence of the SARS-COV-2 virus responsible for Covid-19 through a nasopharyngeal sample (in the nose). The results will be delivered in less than 15 minutes.

These tests will be offered at a flat fee of USD 40 / XPF 5,000 per test.

Only passengers booked on an immediate departing flight will be accepted, upon presentation of a valid Air Tahiti Nui ticket.

The exact details of the CDC requirement are as follows :

1. Present a negative pre-departure Covid -19 viral test result at check in for their Air Tahiti Nui flight conducted during the preceding 3 calendar days of the ATN international flight. The test may be a rapid or laboratory RT-PCR test or a rapid antigen test.

The passenger must present a clear test result document showing their name, the name of the licensed medical authority performing the test, date of the test, type of test and the negative result. Specifically, either “NEGATIVE SARS-COV2 RNA NOT DETECTED” or “SARS-COV2 ANTIGEN NOT DETECTED” or “COVID-19 NOT Detected”.

Passengers 2 years of age or older are required to have this test. This test document is retained by the passenger.

If a passenger has recovered from a previous Covid-19 infection, the passenger may instead travel with written or electronic documentation of a positive viral test that confirms previous SARS Covid 2 infection and a letter from a medical Doctor, Licensed Health Care provider or Public Health Official stating the passenger has fully recovered and is cleared for travel.

2. In addition to this test, passengers 2 years of age and older, must complete a Health Attestation document:

 (<https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/pdf/attachment-a-global-passenger-disclosure-and-attestation-2021-01-12-p.pdf>),

Either electronically or in writing to the airline at check in. A parent or authorized individual may complete the attestation form on behalf of a passenger aged 2-17 years.

This document requires:

  • Name of each passenger as it appears on their passport
  • Confirming the passenger understands they must provide a negative pre-departure test result for Covid-19.  
  • The test was a viral test and taken within 3 calendar days before departure.
    • Or have recovered from Covid 19 in the last three months, and being cleared to travel by a licensed medical professional.

A copy of this document must be given to the Airline who are required to retain it for two years.        

Any passenger not presenting these two documents will not be allowed to board the flight.

Covid-19 test location on Tahiti

Louis Malardé Institute (ILM) in Papeete :

Address: COVID FARE at the crossroad between rue des Poilus Tahitiens and of rue du 5 mars 1797, Papeete
Hours: Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The traveler must present himself at the Institute 72 hours before departure with his Airline ticket. The traveler will be provided with an ID and access code to download their results from the institute website.

The cost for an RT-PCR test is 17,100 xpf per person.
The cost for an antigenic test is 5,700 xpf per person.

Nahoata’s Laboratory in Pirae :

Address: Crossroad between avenue Pomare and rue Tuterai tane, Pirae
Hours: Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Closed on Sundays

It is recommended to make an appointment as early as possible by phone at 40 54 33 33. For samples taken before 2pm, the results are available the same afternoon and accessible remotely via a secure server. Each patient will be given an identifier to download their results.

The cost for an RT-PCR test is 16 074 xpf per person.
Antigenic tests are not available.

Tamanu’s Laboratory, Tamanu Shopping Center in Punaauia :

Address: Centre commercial Tamanu, 1st floor
Hours: Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Closed on Sundays.

It is recommended to make an appointment as early as possible by phone at 40 42 94 00. For samples taken before 2pm, the results are available the same afternoon and accessible remotely via a secure server. Each patient will be given an identifier to download their results.

The cost for an RT-PCR test is 16 074 xpf per person.
Antigenic tests are not available.

Covid-19 test locations in Moorea

The Moorea Laboratory:

Address: PK 3.5 Mountain-side in Tiaia, Maherepa
Hours: Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Closed on Sundays

It is recommended to make an appointment as early as possible by phone at 40 55 05 85. The results are available the same afternoon and accessible remotely via a secure server. Each patient will be given an identifier to download their results.

The cost for an RT-PCR test is 16 074 xpf per person.
Antigenic tests are not available.

Chronology of the coronavirus in French Polynesia

Upon the March 9th mandate, all travellers were required, regardless of nationality, to provide a medical certificate of clean health before entering the country. The certificate must be dated within five days of the last port of departure.

On 11 March, the first case of Coronavirus COVID-19 in French Polynesia was confirmed in Tahiti (but not in Bora Bora). The first patient was Maina Sage, a member of the French National Assembly coming back to Tahiti from France.

The number of cases reported rose to three on 13 March. Three new cases were confirmed on 18 March, and five on 19 March.

On March 11th the Polynesian Goverment announced mandatory 14 day quarantine to all people arriving by plane on international flights.

Faced with the number of increasing cases (6 cases total) in French Polynesia, the authorities decided to take fast and drastic measures to protect the population and suspended access to the territory for all non-residents. The French Polynesia travel ban was effective from March 18th.

On March 18th started the repatriation for all non-resident travelers.

On March 20th, a mandatory lock-down was announced for all the population in French Polynesia. Any flights or boats inter-Island were also suspended to protect all the little islands, including Bora Bora.

Starting on 24 March, alcoholic beverage were forbidden from being sold. This measure was very unpopular and highly criticized.

On March 27th , curfew was imposed, lasting from 8pm to 5am.

After 40 days of strict lockdown, president Edouard Fritch and the French High Commissioner Dominique Sorain said isolation had worked, the pandemic was under control, the curve of Covid-19 was flattened at 58 cases and 0 deaths and the authorities decided to lighten the lockdown from April 29th.

  • Light alcoholic beverages (beers and wines) became available again.
  • Retailers were able to open, whilst ensuring barrier gestures were respected; restaurants and food trucks were therefore able to reopen.
  • Beaches were also re-opened, whilst respecting social distancing, even on the seaside. Individual leisure, sports and nautical activities were therefore be allowed.
  • The reopening of administrations was gradual, prioritizing teleworking where possible.
  • However, bars, discotheques, cinemas but also sports clubs remained closed, collective trainings were still prohibited, as well as gatherings in public and private meetings with the extended family or friends gatherings were strongly discouraged.
  • Maritime and air travel between the islands was still prohibited in order to ensure active surveillance and control of the epidemic. However, access was possible between Tahiti and Moorea.
  • The curfew was maintained but it shifted from 9pm to 5am.

After two months of lockdown, following again the improvement of the health situation with only a total of 60 cumulative cases, the authorities declared the end of lockdown in French Polynesia starting from May 21th, 2020:

  • Access to the territory for all non-residents of French Polynesia was still suspended (since March 18, 2020).
  • Domestic flights started their operations from May 22nd, with Air Tahiti flights serving only 10 islands: Huahine, Raiatea, Bora Bora, Rangiroa, Tikehau, Fakarava, Rurutu, Tubuai, Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa.
  • Sailing yachts which have been stopped in mooring areas were able to resume their trips.
  • All companies and administrations resumed their activities.
  • Restaurants, bars and nightclubs resumed their activities under usual conditions.

The country’s authorities announced June 5th that the borders will be re-opening to international tourism from all countries. in French Polynesia starting on July 15th, 2020

This rigorous protocol allowed health authorities to rapidly detect the first case of a tourist carrying the Covid-19 virus aboard the Paul Gauguin cruise ship and to isolate this person immediately on August 1, 2020, thus controlling the chain of transmission aboard the cruise ship. No additional cases among the passengers and crew were detected thereafter.

However, as in other countries, The Islands of Tahiti are facing an increase in the number of cases. From July 15th there have been 17 697 recorded cases. These originate mostly from several local clusters in Tahiti and Moorea that have generated numerous local contaminations. Indeed, the majority of the cases are residents or newcomers who have come to settle in the French Polynesia.  Nearly 12,000 people have been tested since July 15. Only 16 imported cases were detected including 11 tourists.

The goverment insist that tourism is not the cause, but the gatherings of residents without respect for barrier gestures and basic health recommendations. We all know these measures, we share their importance, but unfortunately some may think that it is sometimes safe to be exempt from them. Well no, vigilance must be continuous and there is indeed an individual responsibility.

The authorities believe that the isolation of Polynesia on itself is not a viable solution in the long term. There is need to resume an economic life open to the outside, saving thousands of jobs and more generally the stability of the economic and social life of the territory. It is essential to avoid a major economic and social crisis. The decision to open our borders was therefore taken to allow the lives of Polynesians to resume their course, to protect jobs and to face the economic consequences of the health crisis.

The foreseeable and non-reversible increase of active cases has pushed the local authorities to declare a state of health emergency with the application of new measures until Feburary 15th, 2021 included (which may be extended):

  • Prohibition of family or friendly festive events in establishments open to the public (ERP);
  • Prohibition of gatherings of more than 6 people on the public roads or in any public place;
  • Sports establishments reduce their capacity by 50%;
  • Prohibition to organize “bingo” lotteries and cockfights;
  • Funeral wakes limited to groups of 10 people.

In addition, the authorities have decided to extend the applicable measures until January 15th, 2021 included (which may be extended):

  • Maintaining the closure of discotheques and nightclubs and banning of of dancing, ball dancing in all establishments open to the public (ERP);
  • 6 people maximum per table in restaurants and pubs (sitting, minimum distance of 1 meter between each group, mandatory wearing of masks when moving within the establishment);
  • Wearing a mask is mandatory: in all enclosed places and ERPs, in certain open-air public spaces (parks, markets, garage sales, etc.), in the vicinity of certain places (schools, airports, ferry terminals, places of worship, sports facilities, etc.), on public transport, during authorized gatherings (funeral ceremonies, protest events, professional gatherings, guided tours, etc.).
  • Reinforcement of measures within ERPs. Reinforced controls and sanctions. Failure to comply with these provisions is punishable by a fine of 89,000 xpf (€745,820).

A curfew has been established ONLY in Tahiti and Moorea (not in Bora Bora). All trips, circulation or movement in public areas are prohibited, every day, between 9:00 pm and 4:00 am. The curfew took effect from October 24 at 9 p.m. until Feburary 15th 2020, with the possibility to extend it.

To underscore this need, a reminder of the rules to respect is provided to local and international visitors upon their arrival at the airport which invite them to take the right steps to ensure the well-being of visitors and the local population. 

I was supposed to visit Bora Bora soon…

You’ve waited for your dream vacation to Bora Bora for long time. After carefully making all the arrangements for your flight, booking a resort – you started to breathe easy and let yourself get excited visiting Bora Bora.

…then the unexpected coronavirus and the travel ban. What should I do?

Contact your vendors

If the coronavirus has affected your travel plans, contact your vendors, resorts, travel agencies and airlines. They are waiving change fees to offer you flexibility with your bookings.

Try to re-schedule if possible to help the island, re-scheduling your trip you will be the reason we will be here in the years to come, THANK YOU 🙂 Click here to find out the best time of the year to visit Bora Bora.

Remember that you are going to need travel insurance and a A A SARS-CoV-2 virus genome test (list of approved and non approved tests) negative test 3 days before boarding and to fill out the online sanitary entry form.

The coronavirus COVID-19 in Bora Bora: Final Thoughts

We recognise that traveling to Bora Bora requires planning ahead, coordinating schedules, and saving up those hard-earned dollars to have your dream vacation. We hope that this article has armed you with the facts and the current update on coronavirus disease COVID-19 status on Bora Bora. We recommend that you follow the State’s guidance and come see us this summer!

High CommissionerDisclaimer: This article was written on January 20th , 2021. Sources for this article include French Polynesia Health Department, the French Polynesia High Comissioner and the World Health Organization and is believed to be accurate at the time of posting.

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