The next step forward for Palau, the “new normal”, has started with Executive Order 442 “Re-establishing Essential Air Services, signed by President Remengesau Jr. on July 31, 2020.

“We are now at the point where we cannot stay still or go backward.  We have to, as an island nation, take steps forwardwhile careful to ensure that everything we do continue to protect the people of Palau,” explained Remengesauof the move to implement Essential Air Services.

Executive Order mandates the Ministry of Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce to establish “Essential Air Services” no later than September 1, 2020.

The Order calls for a “regularly and reliably scheduled so that necessary travel can be planned and taken on a commercial basis by individual citizens, patients or employers.”

Anticipated passengers includereturning residents, essential workers, visiting non-resident citizens, non-essential workers and visiting non-citizens,

The number of flights will be based on the capacity of the NEC and Ministry of Health to handle in terms of available number of quarantine rooms and services required.

Every passenger must have a negative COVID-19 test result 72 hours prior to boarding a plane. MOH regulations mandates that the test be PCR test.  EO also mandates that a person must have a confirmed quarantine room before coming to Palau.

When inquired, President Remengesau said that “starting now, the cost of quarantine and testing will be born by incoming passengers except for Palauan citizens, for now.”

All passengers are required to undergo quarantine upon arrival.  Based on MOH regulations, quarantine days will depend on the originating port and its definition of risk.  For example, Taiwan with 60 days no local transmission will require 7 days quarantine whereas places with active locally transmitted cases will be required 14 days quarantine.

Executive Order states that the work to repatriate stranded citizens have provided Palau the opportunity to train and prepare its frontline workers. “As result, Palau has greatly improved COVID-19 readiness in terms of equipment, in terms of training and in terms of planning.”

First two countries to establish “essential air services” to and from are the Republic of China Taiwan and the United States.

Yesterday, a flight arriving from ROC-Taiwan, brought 6 essential service people and one diplomat.  They will be quarantined for 7 days, tested twice before released.  After they are released, they are expected to stay at their place of work for7 days.  They will take their final test and be allowed to join general population.

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