Traveling from an Orange Country to Tunisia: What’s It’s Like to Quarantine in Tunisia
There has been significantly fewer Covid cases in Tunisia compared to other North African countries. Much of this success is the result of the government responding quickly to the crisis with a strict country-wide military lockdown. Stories of Tunisian factory workers self-isolating to produce face masks and the leverage of technology to combat Covid in Tunisia have also played a vital role to prevent the spread of the virus. Tunisia has since opened up the country for tourism but with healthy and safety precautions in place. This article will outline what it was like to do my quarantine in Tunisia.
Tunisia Open for Tourism Based on Country Classifications
Tunisia has also been the first North African country to re-open its borders on June 27, 2020. The Tunisian Ministry of Health is using scientific indicators approved by many countries in the world to classify countries based on their epidemiological risks into a colour code: Green Zone (low prevalence), Orange Zone (moderate prevalence) and Red Zone (high prevalence). These classifications will affect a traveler’s entry into the country.
Generally speaking, Green Zone travelers can enter into Tunisia without restrictions while Red Zone countries are not permitted to enter Tunisia, with the exception for Tunisian nationals and those with residency in Tunisia. Tunisians and foreign travelers coming from the Orange Zone must present a negative PCR test result and will be subject to quarantine for a 14-day period. This blog article will document my journey from Canada (orange country) to Tunisia at the end of July 2020.
From Canada to Paris
My Air France flight from Canada to Paris could not have been better. According to the flight attendant, the flight was flying at less than 50% capacity. I happened to be sitting at the back of the plane where it seemed to be virtually empty. I still made sure to take all the precautions of keeping my face mask on at all times and using hand sanitizers before and after meals. I managed to avoid using the restroom for the entire flight.
Overall, I felt quite at ease throughout the entire flight since the closest passenger was sitting two rows in front of me. This long 7.5 hours flight could not have been better.
From Paris to Tunisia
My layover at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris was quite uneventful. Passengers lined up to board the plane as usual, but there was an additional requirement for all passengers to present their negative PCR test result which must be carried out within 72 hours of the departure date. A woman presented negative results from a Covid blood test instead of the PCR test, but I never found out if she ever made it onto the flight.
Unlike my previous flight, this Air France flight was at near full capacity but somehow there managed to be an empty middle seat beside my window
Arrival at the Tunis-Carthage International Airport
Two and a half hours later, the Air France flight finally touched down at the Tunis-Carthage International Airport. The Tunisians aboard the plane clapped in unison as they often do when the plane makes a safe landing. I exited the plane and entered the airport along with the many Tunisians eager to return home.
Passengers were requested to queue in two lines – one for those coming from Green Zone countries and the other for travellers from Orange or Red Zone countries. I proceeded to the Orange/Red Zone line and was met by a doctor wearing a medical coat who took my PCR negative test result. His assistant handed me a short health questionnaire to complete before going through a checkpoint for a temperature check.
The next stage became a bit confusing. I proceeded through customs, retrieved my checked baggage and waited at the arrival terminal for my transfer. I had mistaken that my hotel transfer would be a personal transfer, so I was expecting a driver to hold a sign with my name. This would be the typical pre-Covid procedure. It took me some time to realize that I was supposed to be waiting in a designated area with other travelers from Orange and Red zone countries for hotel transfers. Designated buses and minivans were parked in this area for hotel transfers, mostly heading to Hammamet and Sousse. I boarded a 8-seater minivan which seated the driver and 2 other passengers. A security personnel arrived and authorized our vehicle to depart to Belisaire Thalasso and Spa Hotel in Hammamet where I would stay for the next 7 days for quarantine.
My Weeklong Hotel Quarantine in Tunisia
Hotel Check-In Process
The check-in process at the hotel went smoothly. A retractable belt divider was placed in front of the hotel reception, creating a six feet distance between the receptionist and the hotel guest. A hotel staff disinfected my checked luggage and escorted me to the hotel elevator. I reached the second floor and entered my room which turned out to be quite spacious with a double bed and a balcony. It was already 10:45PM at this point and I was starving! I called Room Service and a late-night dinner was delivered directly to my door.
Meal Delivery at the Hotel
A table was placed in front of my hotel room door throughout the entire duration of my hotel quarantine in Tunisia. The table would be a visual reminder to stay inside the room at all times, but it was also a serving table for my meals to be delivered.
Meals were placed on this table three times a day: breakfast at 8am, lunch at 12:30pm, and dinner at 7:30pm. A hotel staff will knock on the door to deliver the meals at the designated times. Once the meals are consumed, the tray with any leftover food and garbage can be placed back onto the table to be taken away.
Breakfast was always the same with coffee, sliced deli, pastries, and yogurt. Lunches and dinners were never the same meal which I appreciated. I also received two large bottles of cold water every morning.
I received a phone call on Day 5 of my quarantine in Tunisia. A hotel staff conducted a simple health questionnaire asking for basic information such as contact information, place of origin, and where I intend to travel to after my quarantine. I was also asked to visit the hotel lobby area in the evening at 8pm for a PCR test. A nurse was stationed at the hotel lobby conducting the PCR test. The queue for very short as expected. The testing process went smoothly, and results would be available in two days.
On Day 7 of my quarantine in Tunisia, I went downstairs once again, with face mask on, and proceeded toward another station in the lobby area designated for test results pickup. Sure enough, my test result was negative! The next morning, I presented my negative test result at reception for check-out. As an extra precaution, the hotel parking staff also requested to see my negative test result before allowing me to officially leave the quarantine hotel premise.
From Tunis to Djerba
After departing the quarantine hotel, I traveled by car to the Tunis-Carthage International Airport. The flight check-in process at the domestic departure terminal went smoothly without any additional procedures. Once the domestic flight landed in Djerba, I returned to my home for 7 days of self-isolation at home.
Quarantine in Tunisia Reflections
Overall, my two weeks of quarantine in Tunisia were uneventful and went by quickly without any major issues. It would have been helpful to have clear instructions provided prior to my arrival to Tunisia and also at the Tunis-Carthage International Airport regarding the expected safety procedures. My hotel experience was as good as any hotel quarantine experience could be. No two meals were ever the same with the exception for the standard breakfast in the mornings. Health and safety protocols were in place and I appreciated a few hotel staff who asked me how I was doing while delivering meals to my hotel room. The PCR testing process was very straightforward and simple which is how it should be.
It is understandable that the mandatory 14 days quarantine in Tunisia would make the country less attractive as a tourist destination for Orange Country travellers. However, given the low cost of living in Tunisia, visiting Tunisia can still be a viable and affordable option for Orange Country travellers who can take longer vacations and are eager to travel. Whether you are interested to visit Tunisia from a Green Country or an Orange Country, you can contact our Travel Experts for the latest travel requirements and to help plan a Tunisia tour for you.
Very informative. I will be visiting in the summer but for a month. Where can I get PCR testing as it’s required prior to returning to the US. Also, how long can I get the results.
February 12, 2021 at 3:45 am
The Tunisian Ministry of Health has issued a list of biomedical analysis laboratories approved to perform RT-PCR tests for Covid-19. Based on my coworker’s experience, the turnaround time is about 12 hours to get the test results. You can find the list here: https://news-tunisia.tunisienumerique.com/tunisia-updated-list-of-laboratories-authorized-to-perform-the-rt-pcr-test/
Will you be staying at a hotel? The easiest way will be to contact the hotel reception for approved hospital or lab in the city to get the Covid PCR testing. The reception will be able to help you arrange transportation as well. Hope this helps! Enjoy your summer holiday in Tunisia. Let us know if you’re interested in a private tour.
February 12, 2021 at 8:14 pm