Yesterday, President Remengesau announced that Palau will charter United Airlines flight on May 21st to bring in stranded Palauan citizens in Guam.
The flight is said to bring back Palauans, students and other citizens, that have travelled out of Palau and got stranded due to COVID-19 restrictions. Report also said that citizens of other countries that are stranded in Palau or may want to leave Palau to return home, may book this same flight out.
Senate President Hokkons Baules and House Speaker Sabino Anastacio both voiced their disagreement to the planned charter flight saying that it would be better to pay for accommodations of stranded citizens until this COVID-19 crisis is settled.
“It would cost around $100k dollars to charter a plane. It is better to use that money to pay for accommodations of those citizens where they are until it is safe to bring them back,” expressed Senate President Baules.
“A stranded person implies that the person has a returned ticket. We need to know the exact number of these stranded citizens. It makes more sense to pay for them to remain where they are then to charter a plane to bring them in,” added Speaker Anastacio.
Some citizens have also expressed opposition to the idea of returning citizens, especially coming from areas with positive cases of COVID-19, due fears of the virus getting into Palau.
President Remengesau in his daily briefings stated that the decision to bring in stranded Palauans home will be based on Palau’s capacity to handle them, such as testing, quarantine sites, hospital preparation, and CDC and WHO’s expert recommendations.
Vice President Raynold Oilouch, Chairman of the National Emergency Committee said that the Committee will meet to discuss the procedures for handling the returning locals and make necessary recommendations to the President.