Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Nations and territories in the Pacific continue to intensify measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as of April 7.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • American Samoa
  • Cook Islands
  • Fiji
  • French Polynesia
  • Guam
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Nauru
  • New Caledonia
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Palau
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu
  • Wallis and Futuna

This alert began 07 Apr 2020 15:45 GMT and is scheduled to expire 29 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Coronavirus disease-related restrictions
  • Location(s): South Pacific (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry bans, transport and business disruptions, longer immigration wait times; possible quarantine measures

Summary
Countries and territories in the South Pacific region continue to tighten travel 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 7, 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 as of April 7, 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. Individuals ignoring the restriction on gatherings may be prosecuted. 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 prior to 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 are enforcing, as of April 7, 14-day quarantine for all arriving passengers, before travelers can proceed to outer islands in the country. Authorities are requiring all incoming passengers to quarantine in New Zealand for 14 days before travel. The government is also banning foreigners from entering the country until further notice, making exceptions for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents as well as Australians who live 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: President David Panuelo declared a public health emergency March 14, reinstating international travel restrictions. 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 nationwide from March 25, making an exception for cargo deliveries. Authorities are also enforcing enhanced health precautions for cargo and tanker vessels entering Micronesian ports.

Fiji: Authorities have ordered a two-week suspension of all nonessential activity in the Greater Suva area from 0500 April 3. Officials will close all nonessential businesses, ban social gatherings, and impose a curfew from 2000 to 0500. Only essential personnel will be allowed to enter the area. The government has relaxed movement restrictions in the Greater Lautoka area as of April 7. Fiji Airways (FJ) has suspended all domestic flights as of April 7 in accordance with government orders to cease inter-island travel to curb the spread of COVID-19. Officials are also only allowing ferries to transport goods between islands. Nadi International Airport (NAN) is closed for an indefinite period. Additionally, authorities will ban passenger ferries to the outer islands from March 29; goods shipments to the islands will continue. Officials have also banned public gatherings of 20 or more people. Authorities have extended the nationwide curfew April 3 to be active between 2000 and 0500. The government is prohibiting persons 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, have to undergo 14-day self-quarantine after entering Fiji. The government has also banned all cruise ships from docking. Authorities could expand travel restrictions and self-quarantine requirements further in the coming days.

French Polynesia: Authorities introduced a curfew that is in effect 2000-0500 through April 15. People caught ignoring the curfew may face fines and imprisonment. Officials have prevented leisure trips between Moorea and Tahiti. 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 are also suspended. Authorities continue to require all arriving passengers to self-isolate for 14 days. Officials are also arranging for tourists to depart the area. Authorities may still require passengers to obtain health clearance within five days of arrival. The measure applies to passengers on all inbound flights; travelers must also present the clearance at check-in counters before boarding aircraft. The government has also banned meetings with more than 100 participants and encouraged hotels to reduce occupancy. 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 also closed public offices for two weeks, restricted public gatherings, and suspended school as of April 7. 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 7. 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. Authorities have also closed all schools through at least April 16.

Marshall Islands: Authorities have extended a ban on all inbound international travel through May 5. The government had previously implemented the ban through April 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 bi-weekly 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 have extended territorywide containment measures through April 13. The government had previously implemented the measures for a 15-day period from March 24. Authorities also indefinitely suspended all international flights March 21. As of April 7, 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 restricted public transport between Grande Terre and the Loyalty Islands and suspended passenger transport to Wallis and Futuna. Officials have also closed entertainment venues for two weeks as of March 19 and banned gatherings of more than 20 people. Authorities have denied cruise ships docking rights.

Northern Mariana Islands: Authorities have declared a public health emergency from March 16. The Northern Marianas government plans to halt all arriving and departing flights from 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 are also suspending domestic flights from April 3. Authorities are introducing these measures after having halted flights with China, South Korea, and Japan from April 1. Government offices and school closures are ongoing through at least March 30. 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 7, including Hong Kong and Macau. Officials in New Zealand are conducting health checks before departure. Schools to remain closed through at least April 17. Authorities have also indefinitely suspended commercial air travel to Palau from March 26, with exceptions being made 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. Authorities had previously imposed a state of emergency through April 4. Authorities are prohibiting inter-island travel, making exceptions for the transport of goods or necessary personnel. Samoa has also closed its ports to vessels except ships delivering goods and fuel. The Samoa Airport Authority (SAA) has also closed Faleolo International Airport (APW) until further notice, with SAA offices operating 0900-1500. Health screenings are occurring at all points of entry. Authorities have ordered the closures of entertainment venues, temporarily halted public transport, and restricted public gatherings of more than five people. Individuals caught ignoring the movement restrictions will be fined. Travel to Savai'i has also been reduced to three times per week.

Solomon Islands: The government has declared the capital, Honiara, a national emergency zone as of April 7, 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: Officials are extending movement restrictions April 5-12. Authorities had declared a state of emergency effective March 20-April 17. Residents have been told to stay in their homes, except to purchase essential goods or access essential services. Nighttime curfews will remain in effect 2000-0600 through at least April 12. However, officials are permitting inter-island transport within the Ha'apai, Vava'u, and Niua islands through April 12. Officials have banned all foreign nationals from entering the country through April 17. Tonga citizens and emergency personnel are allowed to enter 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, as of April 7, 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 a 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: The government declared a two-week state of emergency from March 26 through April 9. Authorities have not released precise details regarding the state of emergency, but likely stipulations will include transport disruptions and enhanced movement restrictions. Authorities also 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) planning to renew domestic flights April 9.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. As of April 7, officials have banned cruise ships for at least 60 days.

Wallis and Futuna: Authorities are using thermal scanners to screen arriving passengers as of April 7. Officials have also banned cruise ships from docking; additional disruptions are possible.

Countries and territories could further expand their response in the coming days, particularly to include countries where COVID-19 cases increase.

Advice
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.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int