Severity: Critical Alert
Entry/Exit: Nations and territories in the Pacific continuing measures to limit spread of COVID-19 as of April 18. Restrictions eased in some locations.
The locations affected by this alert are:
- American Samoa
- Cook Islands
- French Polynesia
- Marshall Islands
- Federated States of Micronesia
- New Caledonia
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Solomon Islands
- Wallis and Futuna
This alert began 18 Apr 2020 10:05 GMT and is scheduled to expire 21 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): South Pacific (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Entry bans, transport and business disruptions, longer immigration wait times; possible quarantine measures
Countries and territories in the South Pacific region continue to enforce transport and business restrictions to halt the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Several governments have declared public health emergencies; however, the severity of screening measures and travel restrictions vary across the region. As of April 15, the following restrictions are in place:
- American Samoa: The territory remains under a state of emergency. The government has declared a Code Blue threat level, which includes provisions such as requiring businesses to operate 0600-1800 only, quarantining arriving passengers, closing public and private schools, and suspending all public gatherings until further notice. Officials may prosecute individuals ignoring the restriction on gatherings. Authorities lifted requirements that US passport holders from states with COVID-19 activity were required to spend 14 days in Hawaii before arrival; however, the measure remains in place for travelers from other countries. Passengers must still acquire health clearances within three days before departure. Officials have reduced flights to Tonga and halted charter flights indefinitely. Travelers from Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, and Fiji must remain in Samoa for 14 days and receive a health clearance before arrival.
- Cook Islands: Officials declared the nation free of COVID-19 April 18. Authorities are easing movement and gathering restrictions; travel between Rarotonga and outer islands will resume from April 20. Restaurants may resume operations with social distancing measures in place. Religious services may also resume. Schools will reopen from April 20. The government continues to require all incoming passengers to quarantine in New Zealand for 14 days before travel. A 14-day quarantine is also in place for all arriving passengers before travelers can proceed to outer islands in the country. Foreigners remain banned from entering the country until further notice, except for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents and Australians living in New Zealand. Flights from other destinations, including Australia and French Polynesia, are suspended. The government has canceled at least 11 planned cruise ship port visits through April. Officials are also banning travelers who have been to Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam within 14 days of arriving at the Cook Islands.
- Federated States of Micronesia: A public health emergency remains in effect. Authorities in Yap State have instituted a 1900-0600 daily curfew. The government has banned citizens from traveling to countries affected by COVID-19, including the US, Japan, and China, among others. The government has also banned all inbound flights, with an exemption for cargo deliveries. Authorities are also enforcing enhanced health precautions for cargo and tanker vessels entering Micronesian ports.
- Fiji: The government is prohibiting people who have recently traveled to the US, Europe, the UK, Iran, South Korea, and mainland China from entering the country. All arrivals, regardless of nationality, must undergo 14-day self-quarantine. Authorities have extended a nationwide 2000-0500 curfew. Officials have banned public gatherings of 20 or more people. Inter-island transport remains suspended; officials are allowing ferries to transport goods between islands. The government has also banned all cruise ships from docking.
- French Polynesia: Authorities have extended the nationwide 2000-0500 curfew through April 29. People caught ignoring the curfew may face fines and imprisonment; however, officials have started lifting restrictions in all islands, except Moorea and Tahiti. While most public gatherings remain banned in outer islands, meetings of up to 20 are possible for funerals and up to 50 people for religious services. Schools may start in some areas from April 20. Officials have authorized food production to begin in several areas, including during curfew hours, and allowed takeaway alcohol sales to resume with restrictions on quantity and types of beverages. Leisure trips between Moorea and Tahiti and outlying islands remain banned. Authorities will require certificates specifying health, work, or family reason for travel before movement is allowed on ferries connecting the main islands; however, cargo shipments will continue. Air services between the islands for leisure purposes also remain suspended. Authorities continue to require all arriving passengers to self-isolate for 14 days. Authorities may still require passengers to obtain health clearance within five days of arrival; the measure applies to all inbound passengers, who must present the clearance at check-in counters before boarding aircraft. The government has suspended all but critical travel to countries with COVID-19 activity and banned all cruise ships from docking.
- Guam: Officials have extended the public health emergency through at least May 5.Authorities continue to ban entry by individuals who traveled in mainland China within 14 days of arrival. All arriving visitors, regardless of their country of origin, are required to quarantine for up to 14 days. Nonresidents will have to pay for their quarantine measures. The government has closed public offices for two weeks, restricted public gatherings, and suspended school as of April 14. The government has also closed all entertainment venues, including restaurants and movie theaters, and stopped on-site work for most industries through at least March 30. Public transport, healthcare, grocery and convenience stores, pharmacies, banks, and other essential services are exempt from the measure. Police are enforcing a curfew for all minors; the measure is in effect 2200-0600 Monday-Friday and 0001-0600 Saturday and Sunday.
- Kiribati: The government has issued a state of emergency as of April 14. Officials require all passengers to spend 14 days in a COVID-19-free country before entry. Passengers must also produce a health clearance for COVID-19. Travelers who do not have the required health clearance will not be allowed to enter the country. Authorities have also increased security at all ports of entry. Cruise ships and fishing boat passengers must undergo health inspections upon arrival; vessels that have previously visited a country with COVID-19 activity must remain anchored for 14 days before entry.
- Marshall Islands: Authorities have extended a ban on all inbound international travel through May 5. The travel ban also applies to residents and citizens.
- Nauru: President Lionel Rouwen Aingimea declared a state of emergency through at least April 16. Officials have banned all international flights except one biweekly flight to Brisbane Airport (BNE). Inbound passengers are required to remain in a quarantine facility for two weeks. Air cargo operations are ongoing but face quarantine measures.
- New Caledonia: Officials will lift territorywide containment measures from April 20. A 2200-0500 curfew will remain in effect in the Dumbea area of Noumea through April 19. Inter-island flights will resume from April 20. Most businesses and public areas will reopen, though some entertainment venues, such as theaters, bars, and nightclubs, remain shut. Officials will continue to cancel religious services and sporting events, though public gatherings of up to 50 people may occur. Schools will resume in Southern Province April 20, and educational institutions in other provinces will restart progressively in the coming weeks. All international flights remain suspended indefinitely, though freight and medical transport is continuing. Officials are stopping all foreign nationals from entering the territory. Returning residents will have to self-quarantine for 14 days. Officials will quarantine visitors displaying COVID-19 symptoms at a medical facility. Authorities have suspended passenger transport to Wallis and Futuna. Officials have also closed entertainment venues and banned gatherings of more than 20 people until further notice. Authorities have denied cruise ships docking rights.
- Northern Mariana Islands: Authorities have declared a public health emergency from March 16. The government has halted all arriving and departing flights since April 6, only allowing freight and medical transport flights in or out. United Airlines is suspending flights to and from Guam from April 6-30. Authorities have suspended domestic flights from April 3. A 1900-0600 curfew for minors remains in place in Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
- Palau: Authorities issued a public health emergency from March 17. The government continues to ban foreign travelers who have visited China as of April 14, including Hong Kong and Macau. Officials in New Zealand are conducting health checks before departure. Schools will remain closed through at least May 15. Authorities have also indefinitely suspended commercial air travel to Palau from March 26, with exceptions for cargo and mail air services. The Kayangel State Government has also suspended transportation to Kayangel through April 30.
- Samoa: Officials have extended the state of emergency through May 2; however, officials have begun to reduce restrictions as of April 15. Inter-island travel has resumed, though authorities are limiting passengers based on the size of the vessel. Service is available between Upolu and Savai'i Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday only. Bus services have also resumed - except for Sundays - with limits on capacity. Buses must cease operations from 1730 daily. Officials are allowing public markets and supermarkets to operate 0600-1800 Monday-Saturday; supermarkets can open 1500-1800 on Sunday. Restaurants may resume activities until 2130 each day. Transport and business owners must ensure social distancing measures. Other restrictions remain in place; officials continue to ban gatherings of more than five people and shutter entertainment venues. Individuals caught ignoring the movement restrictions could face fines. Samoa's ports remain closed to vessels, except ships delivering goods and fuel, and Faleolo International Airport (APW) remains closed until further notice. Health screenings are occurring at all points of entry.
- Solomon Islands: The government has extended the national state of emergency, declared March 25-July 25.Honiara remains a national emergency zone, requiring nonresidents of the city to return to their home provinces. All nonresident foreign nationals remain banned from entering the country. International flights are banned indefinitely from March 28. Any returning citizens and residents will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine at a quarantine center upon entry to the country. The government has encouraged residents to reduce attendance at nonessential events and limit travel between Honiara and other provinces. Schools, casinos, nightclubs, and kava bars are closed in Honoraria. Officials have banned all cruise ships for 90 days from March 20.
- Tonga: Authorities have extended an existing state of emergency until May 15; the government will maintain a border closure and related flight ban through June 12. However, officials announced an easing of other restrictions April 17. Authorities have shortened curfew orders to 2100-0500 daily. Religious services are allowed, and schools will reopen from April 20, with social distancing measures in place. As many as 20 people can gather for indoor funerals, and 40 people may attend outdoor funerals. Entertainment venues and sporting venues remain closed. A ban on all foreign nationals remains in effect. Tonga citizens and emergency personnel are allowed to enter the country but must quarantine for two weeks. Officials will quarantine any symptomatic passengers at a military facility in Tongatapu. Authorities continue to require health declaration forms upon entry for all passengers. The government has banned cruise ships from docking indefinitely.
- Tuvalu: Authorities are preventing foreign passengers who have visited China within 30 days of entering the country. Officials are also restricting entry for seaborne travelers who had visited China or another high-risk country within the last 30 days. The government is also requiring arriving passengers to obtain medical clearance within three days of entering Tuvalu and stay in a lower-risk country for at least five days before entering the country. Authorities are also conducting health screenings at Funafuti International Airport (FUN).
- Vanuatu: Authorities announced, from March 20, the indefinite closure of all ports of entry into Vanuatu. While airlines are restricting international flights, the government resumed domestic flights April 7, with Air Vanuatu (NF) resumed domestic flights April 10.Quarantines of 14 days are required for Vanuatu nationals upon arrival in the country, while foreign nationals must undergo 14 days of quarantine before arrival. Passengers must also acquire a health clearance; travelers without the declaration could face quarantine or must return to their point of origin at their own expense. The government has suspended guest worker programs with New Zealand and Australia. Officials also intend to introduce measures for public gatherings and entertainment venues; however, details remain unclear. Authorities have also banned cruise ships for at least 60 days.
- Wallis and Futuna: Authorities are using thermal scanners to screen arriving passengers. Officials have also banned cruise ships from docking; additional disruptions are possible.
Countries and territories could further adjust their response in the coming days, depending on the severity of COVID-19 cases.
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int