Cruise passengers met with violent protests in Reunion over COVID-19

Police officers responded with teargas after local protesters threw stones and demanded health checks of tourists. Credit: Richard Bouhet/AFP/Getty Images

Violent protests erupted at Pointe des Galets, Réunion Island, to block passengers onboard the cruise ship Sun Princess from disembarking due to coronavirus fears.

Around 30 protesters met around the port demanding health checks on tourists to avoid contamination of the island; there are currently no recorded cases of COVID-19 on Réunion Island.

The protesters tried to block the disembarkation of cruise passengers from the vessel and threw bottles and pebbles at the security forces who then intervened and responded with teargas.

“Of course we are not against the arrival of tourists, they are necessary for the development of our economy. We just want to be sure that there is no risk of the coronavirus propagating,” protester Yannis Latchimy said to the Guardian newspaper.

The Sun Princess docked in Reunion Island on 1 March after being refused entry to Madagascar on 13 February. The Madagascan authorities turned the vessel away stating that the virus incubation period of 14 days had not passed since the ships stop in Thailand (where there have been cases of COVID-19).

Princess Cruises, the Sun Princess owner, also owns the cruise ship Diamond Princess, which was quarantined by Japanese authorities in Yokohama.