Article Tunisia: President Lifts COVID-19 Restrictions and Lockdown

(June 15, 2020) On June 8, 2020, the Tunisian president, Kais Saied, issued an order completely lifting COVID-19 restrictions and the nationwide curfew. An 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew had initially been implemented in March 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19 disease. On May 13, 2020, the curfew was reduced to 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. During March and April 2020, the Tunisian government also imposed a number of restrictions to curb the pandemic, including the closure of schools, mosques, shops, cafes, and restaurants.

The president’s decision came after the Ministry of Health announced that there had been a drop in the number of COVID-19 infections. However, the minister of health has stated that the country will return to full lockdown if there is a second wave of coronavirus infections. According to news reports, as of June 8, 2020, Tunisia had 1,087 coronavirus cases and 49 related deaths.

Gradual Ease of Restrictions

In May 2020, Tunisia began gradually easing restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. On May 4, 2020, companies in the food and construction sector were again permitted to operate. Half of all government employees were allowed to return to work, and public transportation resumed. On May 11, 2020, clothing shops and stores in malls were reopened. In the same month, Tunisian authorities allowed individuals to move between governorates if they have obtained special permission and wear face masks. Additionally, hairdresser, carpentry, and blacksmith shops, among others, began opening. The Ministry of Health also announced that it is obligatory for individuals returning to work to wear masks, maintain social distancing, and take precautions while using public transportation.

Tunisian authorities announced on May 21, 2020, that mosques and restaurants would be allowed to reopen starting June 4, 2020. Schools were scheduled to open on May 26, 2020, and universities were to resume operations on June 8, 2020. On June 1, 2020, Tunisia announced that it would open its sea, land, and air borders on June 27, 2020.

Launching COVID-19 Tracing App

While easing restrictions imposed in previous months aimed at the reduction of infection rates, in May 2020, the Tunisian government launched a COVID-19 contact-tracing mobile app, called “E7mi.” The app identifies and alerts users if they have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19. The Health Ministry approved the E7mi app after three weeks of testing.

If a user tests positive for COVID-19, Tunisia’s Observatory of Emerging Diseases contacts other users whose cell phones have been detected close to the infected user’s device to notify them. Users’ personal data will be archived for only 14 days under the control of the National Personal Data Protection Authority.

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