Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Papua New Guinea continues to adjust COVID-19 restrictions as of Sept 7. Port Moresby shortening nightly curfew to 0001-0500.

Alert Begins 07 Sep 2020 08:44 AM UTC
Alert Expires 21 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Heightened security; possible transport and business disruptions

Summary
Papua New Guinea continues to adjust localized and nationwide social distancing measures as of Sept. 7 to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Officials have shortened the nightly curfew in Port Moresby by two hours to 0001-0500. Other controls, including facemasks requirement for most indoor areas and public transport, remain in place.

Gatherings nationwide remain capped at 50 people except for religious services, which are limited to local services only under national regulations. Markets can operate above gathering restrictions, but officials must ensure people maintain 1.5 meters (5 feet) from other shoppers. Establishments such as restaurants and gambling venues that provide alcohol must only do so with food orders and observe safe hygiene practices. Nightclubs and bars remain closed, and takeaway alcohol sales can only occur Monday-Thursday. Licensed gambling and horse racing venues can operate only on specific days of the week, and sporting events may occur without spectators. Companies that can operate must comply with government mandates directives, which may vary by industry and type of establishment.

Officials are allowing interprovincial travel. However, air services remain restricted to specific reasons, including student travel to or from school, returning to a residence, essential services, business travel, and medical or emergency transport. Officials no longer require air passengers to seek permission in advance of bookings. Public transport services are operating throughout much of the country with passenger capacity limits. Services are prone to disruptions and schedule changes; public motor vehicle (PMV) strikes may occur and prompt temporary transport disruptions. Heightened security is likely, especially in major cities.

The land border with Indonesia remains closed, and officials have suspended traditional maritime border crossings in the region. Authorities have increased military deployments to border areas, though some illegal crossings are likely ongoing. Officials are only allowing flights from airports in Brisbane and Cairns, Australia, to enter Port Moresby's Jacksons International Airport (POM). Motukea Port near Port Moresby, as well as ports in Rabaul, Morobe, and Madang, are the only official maritime ports of entry for vessels and cargo shipments arriving into the country; however, all ports remain open for cargo handling with workers wearing protective gear.

Travel Restrictions
Most foreign nationals remain banned from entering the country. Permitted passengers - including Papua New Guinea nationals and permanent residents - must obtain written approval from the National Pandemic Controller's Office before entry. Authorities require arrivals to receive a negative result from a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test within seven days of travel. No travelers can enter the country via land and sea border crossings.

Officials have intensified health screenings for arrivals. Returning citizens and permanent residents must quarantine for 14 days in Port Moresby at a designated hotel paid for by the government or in another hotel at the traveler's expense. Authorities will isolate foreigners in Port Moresby at a hotel at the traveler's expense. Immigration and customs officials also require health declarations and travel history information before allowing passengers into the country. Officials may deny entry, require self-quarantine, or quarantine arrivals suspected of having COVID-19, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

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. Prepare to discuss and provide evidence for recent travel history. Maintain contact with your diplomatic mission. Plan for possible ground shipping and travel delays; seek alternative routes and shipping methods for time-sensitive cargo.

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.


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