Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Papua New Guinea lifting some COVID-19 restrictions as of May 4. State of emergency, entry ban, border closures ongoing.

This alert affects Papua New Guinea

This alert began 04 May 2020 11:30 GMT and is scheduled to expire 18 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

Authorities have lifted the 2200-0500 curfew over the National Capital District and Central Province as of May 4 due to a reduction in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases. While public gathering restrictions remain in effect, exceptions are made for multiple locations, including hotels, banks, pharmacies, and supermarkets. Public transport has resumed, albeit with limitations on passenger numbers. Authorities are also allowing sports and religious activities to continue, with some social distancing measures imposed on some of the religious activities.

Authorities have allowed universities and tertiary schools to reopen as of May 4. Public transport has resumed in most of the country. Social distancing measures remain in place, with authorities allowing customary gatherings of no more than four people. Lingering disruptions and schedule changes are likely in areas where public transport has resumed. Government officials may continue to relax restrictions in the National Capital District, Central Province, as well as in other areas in the coming days. However, if more COVID-19 cases emerge, governments at provincial and local levels could reinstate or enhance restrictions. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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