New COVID-19 restrictions commence today in Papua New Guinea

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Papua New Guinea National Pandemic Controller has issued 12 new measures that come into effect today, as the country pursues a new ‘national isolation strategy’ to combat rising COVID-19 infections.

Prime Minister Marape announces the national isolation strategy. Credit: PNG National Health Department

With over 3,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and an overwhelmed health system, PNG is facing a second wave of COVID-19.

Prime Minister James Marape has declared a National Isolation Strategy that comes into effect today.

He said the strategy ‘will ensure people are not moving from place to place unnecessarily,’ while endeavouring to keep business and government going. He asked that people ‘remain in your province, remain in your district, remain in your village and where you are’ to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19.

Pandemic Controller David Manning announced last week twelve new measures that come into effect today and place restrictions on travel, movement and social activities. All previous measures have been revoked.

Social activities

The use of masks is mandatory in markets, enclosed spaces, aircraft, public transport, government departments and buildings. Children under the age of 12 and people with certain medical conditions are exempt.

‘All businesses, social venues, markets, shopping centres, schools, educational institutions and places of worship must comply with the Niupela pasin (new normal) guidelines,’ say the new measures.

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In other restrictions,

  • Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned.
  • There’s a ban on nightclubs, bars and gambling activities ‘for the duration of the pandemic’.
  • Restaurants can operate from 7am to 10pm but are subject to following COVID-safe practices.
  • Retailers can operate from 7am to 8pm and must follow COVID-19 protocols.
  • Sporting events are suspended.
  • Liquor shops must close over the weekend (Saturday and Sunday).
  • PMV Buses can only carry up to 15 passengers; taxis are limited to two passengers. All passengers must wear masks.
  • Funerals and haus krais are restricted to no more than 50 people.
  • Religious gatherings are also restricted to 50 people.

While domestic flights will continue, there is no travel between provinces unless approved by the controller:

‘No person may travel, by foot, vehicle, vessel or aircraft from one province in PNG to another province, except for persons who have a valid reason for travel.’

The valid reasons for travel include essential business travel, students returning home or to their educational institutions, persons returning to their home provinces, medical assistance and medivac and emergency transport.

Manning also announced that medical supplies are exempted from customs duties.

International travel

Air Niugini has Credit: Air Niugini via Facebook

International travellers will need an exemption in writing from the Controller or his delegate to enter PNG and need to complete the e-Health Declaration Form before boarding the plane.

People wanting to enter PNG need to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test – only PCR tests are accepted.

Travellers also need to follow quarantine procedures, including quarantining at their own cost at designated hotels in Port Moresby and the potential use of tracking devices.

The Controller has also clarified that people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 are not exempt from quarantine.

Following restrictions to travel between PNG and Australia announced by the Australian government last week, Air Niugini has advised its customers that from 18 to 27 March flights to Cairns have been cancelled and the number of passengers flying to Brisbane cut to 30 per cent. However, the airline also said that the new restrictions will not affect freight movements between Brisbane and PNG.

Province control

Controller Manning has instructed all provincial administrators to be responsible for the implementation of the new measures in their provinces.

Each province must set up a Provincial Control Centre managed by a Provincial COVID-19 Taskforce.

The Controller has also asked provincial chambers of commerce or provincial business peak bodies to be in charge of developing a business COVID Continuity Plan for operation in each province.

In Morobe Province, the Morobe Provincial Emergency Committee has declared a ‘No mask, no entry’ policy for all business houses and government facilities.

Manning has said that failure to adhere to these measures could result in a possible lockdown.

Comments

  1. Rem Iwangu says

    Agreed to be abide by safety protocols stand.

  2. Michael Glipu says

    There is no need for a complete shut down…since the economy is very fragile and will definitely result in an economic collapse for PNG…covid awareness and one on one protection should be driven by govt….all funds should be directed towards protection and avoidence of transmission and infection..people now have afair idea and can manage themselves… and continue to survive since live must continue to move on…

    • gummy herbs says

      pls advise when the liquor shops( bottle shops) re -open???the new closures only stated from march 21 that liquor shops ”must close on saturday//sunday!!!))—why are they closed –pls advise

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