Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Papua New Guinea lifting some COVID-19 restrictions as of April 23. State of emergency, entry ban, border closures ongoing.

This alert affects Papua New Guinea

This alert began 23 Apr 2020 06:47 GMT and is scheduled to expire 07 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Curfews, movement restrictions, heightened security, transport and business disruptions, enhanced health screenings, quarantine measures

Summary
Officials have started to lift some restrictions implemented to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of April 23. Authorities will allow universities and tertiary schools to reopen from April 27, followed by other schools May 4. Public transport has resumed in most of the country, with social distancing measures in place. However, only taxi services are available in the National Capital District and Central and Western provinces, which are under tighter regulations; taxis must also abide by an ongoing 2000-0600 daily curfew in these areas. Lingering disruptions and schedule changes are likely in areas where public transport has resumed.

Leaders have also cleared the resumption of domestic flights. Flag carrier Air Niugini (PX) will operate a regular schedule to most destinations; flights remain regulated to border provinces with Indonesia. Authorities are requiring passengers to complete a travel application with the airline at least 24 hours prior to flights. The government has also lifted a ban on international flights, though inbound passengers remain restricted to Papua New Guinean nationals and permanent residents. PX maintained limited services to Singapore, Brisbane, and Cairns under previous orders, primarily for cargo flights and departing passengers.

Despite eased restrictions, a nationwide state of emergency remains in place through at least June 5. The government has instructed businesses to implement safe work practices and to allow nonessential staff to stay at home through the state of emergency. The land border with Indonesia remains closed. Officials deployed more military personnel to the border crossing, though reports of illegal crossings continue. Authorities have banned cruise ships and passenger yachts with more than 15 people; however, ports have reopened for cargo shipments with workers wearing protective gear.

Stricter measures may be implemented at the provincial and local levels not under national government orders, particularly if any COVID-19 cases emerge. Governments could shutter entertainment venues, liquor stores, public markets, and street vendors and prevent unnecessary movement. Reports indicate that food challenges are emerging in some areas, and looting and robbery cannot be ruled out. Increased security is likely, particularly in major cities.

Travel Restrictions

Authorities continue to ban most foreign nationals from entering the country, except for permanent residents. Officials have intensified health screenings for inbound passengers. Staff at Jacksons International Airport (POM) and other ports of entry are using thermal scanners to monitor patients for possible symptoms. 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 arriving passengers that they suspect of having COVID-19, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

Advice
Postpone travel if affected by travel restrictions. 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. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. 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.

Resources
Ministry of Health: www.health.gov.pg

National Airports Corporation: www.nac.com.pg

PNG Ports Corporation: www.pngports.com.pg

Air Niugini: www.airniugini.com.pg