PORT MORESBY,13 AUGUST 2020 (PNG GOVT) —- Papua New Guinea Controller of the National Pandemic Response David Manning says the 14 day lock down of the National Capital District following a surge in COVID-19 cases officially ends Wednesday 12 August 2020.
Manning also issued 11 new measures aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19. Ten of the new measures come into effect on Monday 17 August 2020 and replace all previous measures. This includes a 10pm to 5am curfew. Measure 11 on public transportation in Port Moresby comes into effect today, 13 August, 2020.
The 11 measures include measures on domestic and international travel, the establishment of provincial coordination measures, burial of deceased persons, customs duties, COVID-19 testing and surveillance, business and social measures, the mandatory wearing of masks (Port Moresby only) and measures on public transportation (Port Moresby only).
Manning said there is currently an ongoing repatriation flight being arranged for the Philippines on Sunday. Other flights are also being arranged to bring in the expatriate workforce required for important government projects around the country. However, these will be done under stringent control measures.
The measures on international travel basically remain the same. The first port of entry for aircrafts or vessels coming into PNG is Jackson’s International Airport, and ports are Motukea, Lae, Rabaul, and Madang.
Other measures include:
- No person including PNG citizens and permanent residents are allowed to enter PNG except by aircraft;
- Traditional border crossings between Indonesia, Australia, Solomon Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia remains suspended;
- No person is permitted to board an aircraft bound for PNG unless provided an exemption in writing by the Controller of his delegate;
- No aircraft coming into PNG from another country shall have entry at a port of entry in PNG unless the aircraft is departing from Cairns or Brisbane Airports in Queensland, Australia or exempted in writing by the Controller; and
- No person is permitted to board an aircraft bound for PNG unless they have been tested for COVID-19 within a seven day period prior to boarding an aircraft, have been tested for COVID-19 using Real Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests and that their tests have returned negative for COVID-19.
On domestic travel:
- No roadblocks shall be established by any person including authorised officers except those directed by the Controller;
- All domestic flights must comply with the following requirements;
- Hygiene and social distancing restrictions as issued by the Controller;
- All passengers must complete an Air Passenger Travel Form which are to be submitted to Provincial Health Authority upon arrival; and
- All persons must have a valid reason for travel within PNG. Valid reasons include students returning home or to school, residents returning to their usual residence, essential services, essential business travel, and for medical relief and emergency travel including repatriation of deceased persons.
- No person may travel by aircraft from one province to another unless provided an exemption in writing by the Controller or his delegate;
- No domestic flight(s) may occur from one province in PNG to another unless provided an exemption in writing by the Controller or his delegate.
- Only essential travel will be allowed in the following categories:
- Students returning to their usual place of residence or returning to their educational institution (one way tickets to be issued);
- Persons returning to their usual residence (one way tickets will be issued);
- Essential services;
- Seeking medical assistance and medivac; and
- Emergency transport, including but not limited to repatriation of deceased persons.
- Cargo flights and medivac are exempted.
- All flights shall within 24 hours of occurring submit to the office of the Controller a flight and cargo manifest; and
- All domestic flights must comply with hygiene and social distancing as issued by the Controller.
“To quicken the process and allow minimal disruption to business, government services and life I am authorising the airlines to manage domestic travel requirements under COVID-19. I expect them to strictly manage the essential travel with daily reports presented to the National Control Centre for scrutiny. Stiff penalties will be imposed on any airline that fails to strictly enforce the restrictions. Profit should not be their only driving force but a social obligation to help us stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We have assessed the situation very carefully over the last five months. Whilst our current measures are not as restrictive as those during the State of Emergency, we have learnt a lot to enable us to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 whilst causing as little disruption as possible to the lives of our people.
“COVID-19 is here and it will be with us for some time into the future. We have to learn to live with it. Education, business, government services, churches and religious services as well as cultural and sporting events must be able to continue under the new normal or “niupela pasin” going forward,” Manning said.
He said school are set to open by Monday 17 August 2020 as per COVID-19 protocols developed by the Departments of Education and Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (DHERST) including the mandatory wearing of face masks for students and teachers and the availability of hand washing facilities or hand sanitisers.
Public transportation, especially the buses will resume on 17 August 2020. However, PMV buses to carry only 15 passengers and must carry hand sanitisers for passengers. Buses must be regularly washed down or sanitised as well.
Markets will remain open and implement the “Niupela Pasin” protocols including maintaining physical distancing and the wearing of face masks for both vendors and buyers. Loitering around and within the market places will be discouraged.
Public gatherings are to also implement the new normal or “Niupela Pasin”. No more than 15 people are expected to gather in public areas except for markets and shops.
Business and social
COVID-19 is spread through human movement and interaction so Measure No.9 sets the protocols required to contain the spread of the virus Manning said and this includes:
- Venues or parts of venues must immediately close for the duration of the pandemic that provide night club activities and services and only serve alcohol without food.•
- Venues or parts of venues that operate for the purpose of the sale and consumption of alcohol may operate subject to patrons:
- Washing hands with soap or hand sanitiser upon entry and exit;
- Being sold alcohol only if they have also ordered food; and
- Follow all hygiene standards issued by the Controller.
- Licensed premises that sell takeaway alcohol shall not sell alcohol on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.
- The PNG Sports Foundation shall be responsible for:
- Approving requests for affiliated bodies to play matches;
- Approving requests for affiliated bodies to resume training; and
- In consultation with the National Department of Health, setting protocols and guidelines for sporting clubs, teams and matches relating to COVID-19.
- No club or sporting matches shall be allowed any spectators.
- For churches:
- All persons on entry or exit places of worship must wash their hands with soap or hand sanitiser;
- Practise social distancing of 1.5 meter between each person; and
- Follow all other hygiene standards as issued by the Controller.
- Licensed bookmakers may only operate on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and only in venues in Port Moresby, Lae, Mt Hagen, Madang and Goroka.
- The following religious gatherings shall not occur:
- Provincial church gatherings;
- National church gatherings;
- Conventions; and
- Provincial or national outreach programmes.
- The Council of Churches in consultation with the National Department of Health and all faith groups in PNG shall prepare standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all religious activities and gatherings under COVID-19.
- The PNG Business Council shall ensure businesses develop COVID-19 Continuity Plans for operation in the NCD. All restaurants in the NCD shall submit to the PNG Business Council the physical size of restaurant seating areas and seating plans. The PNG Business Council shall determine maximum patronage for restaurants in the NCD;
- An immediate ban is placed on gathering of over 50 persons; and
- The ban on public chewing of betel nuts in the NCD except in private dwellings.
“I strongly urge everyone to faithfully observe the health and medical protocols in physical distancing, washing of hands, wearing face masks and staying at home. COVID-19 is real and is already here in PNG. The 11 new measures were carefully thought through and imposed with the intention to stop the spread of COVID-19 but at the same time allow business to continue as normal as possible.
Wearing of face masks
“We are now living in an international pandemic that has affected more than 215 countries, infected over 20 million people and caused the death of just over 740,000 people. However, we can protect ourselves from the disease by practising COVID-19 protocols including the wearing of face masks,” Manning said.
The new measure number 10 makes it mandatory to wear a face mask in Port Moresby. The following measures apply only to the NCD except otherwise stated:
- No person shall be permitted to enter into or otherwise remain within any designated market without wearing a face mask or face covering in a manner which covers their mouth, nose and chin;
- No person shall be permitted entry to or otherwise remain within any enclosed space within an establishment unless the person is wearing a face mask or face covering in a manner which covers their mouth, nose and chin; and
- All other measures as contained in the measures which can be accessed on the COVID-19 website: covid19.info.gov.pg….. PACNEWS