Controller David Manning has removed the capital’s curfew and travel restrictions are wound back. We examine the latest measures in Papua New Guinea’s fight against COVID-19.
It is a good time to fly again as travel restrictions ease across PNG after a shake-up of the pandemic rules by Controller of the COVID-19 National Pandemic Response, David Manning, this week.
Effective 3 October, the new rules will see international flights open up to a few key routes such as Australia (excluding Victoria), Singapore and Japan while a raft of international arrivals will be allowed to have just seven days of quarantine when arriving in PNG.
‘We must continue to be vigilant and observe all COVID-19 protocols. COVID-19 is here in PNG and will be around at least for the next year or so.’
The move has been welcomed by PNG’s national airline.
‘Air Niugini is pleased to announce that all restrictions on domestic air travel have been removed, and will be offering a range of sales to promote domestic tourism,’ the company said in a statement.
‘Air Niugini expects to announce the recommencement of scheduled flights to Hong Kong and Manila shortly. Passengers will continue to be temperature tested upon entering all airport terminals, provided a face mask at check-in, and will need to fill in the passenger contact tracing form at check-in and the health form whilst on-board.’
The curfew is lifted
Meanwhile, in Port Moresby the night-time curfew has been lifted and a raft of other changes have been made to the government’s pandemic response.
Taxi passenger limits have been scrapped and sporting clubs and churches can have more than 50 people. However, the mandatory wearing of masks remains in place in the capital.
‘Whilst I have removed some of the restrictions and relaxed or eased others, I urge everyone not to let their guard down,’ Manning said. ‘We must continue to be vigilant and observe all COVID-19 protocols. COVID-19 is here in PNG and will be around at least for the next year or so. The WHO [World Health Organization] has embarked on securing a vaccine by the end of 2021. But even if a vaccine is found it will be a couple more years before we can even have access to it.’
See the full list of Niupela Pasin (New Normal) rules below:
- International flights will now open up for Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and the Solomon Islands. Previously, flights came only from Australia and flights from other countries had to be approved by the Controller. Passengers are still required to get approval from the Controller’s office to travel into the country and must do PCR test with negative results to be allowed to come to PNG.
- Passengers from New Zealand, Fiji, Solomon Islands, all Australian states except Victoria, New Caledonia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Palau and Niue who have spent seven days in these countries will now be quarantined for seven days at home or at a designated quarantine facility in PNG. Those seeking home quarantine will need the Controller’s approval.
- There are no restrictions on domestic flights and passengers are no longer required to seek prior approvals to travel. However, they are expected to continue to observe COVID-19 measures in safe distancing, wearing of masks, regular hand sanitizing/washing, and are required to fill a National Department of Health form which is to be handed to the Provincial Health Authority upon arrival.
- Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and GeneXpert remain the only two COVID-19 testing equipment.
- The mandatory wearing of face masks remains in the National Capital District.
- There are no limitations on the number of passengers on taxis and public motor vehicles in the NCD. However, drivers and passengers are required to wear masks at all times that cover their nose, mouth and chin.
- Venues, or parts of venues, that provide night club activities and services and only serve alcohol without food will remain closed for the duration of the pandemic.
- Licensed premises that sell takeaway alcohol shall not sell alcohol on Saturdays or Sundays.
- Schools, churches and sporting competitions must comply with all COVID-19 protocols as set out including social distancing, wearing of face masks and hand sanitising.
- Ban on gatherings of 50 or more persons is still in force. Sporting activities and churches are exempted but will need to strictly adhere to all COVID-19 protocols.
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