Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: South Pacific nations and territories continue to adjust measures amid reduced COVID-19 activity as of July 21. Travel restrictions ongoing.
- Alert Begins: 21 Jul 2020 07:59 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- 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 adjust restrictions amid reduced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Several governments are maintaining public health emergencies, but have eased or lifted movement and business restrictions. The severity of screening measures and travel restrictions vary across the region. As of July 21, the following restrictions are in place:
- American Samoa: The government has extended a state of emergency through at least July 30. The government is maintaining a Code Blue threat level (the lowest on a three-tiered scale) and is encouraging residents to wear protective face coverings in public. Officials are permitting gatherings of up to 150 people for essential reasons, such as funerals, religious services, and cultural events, but nonessential gatherings remain restricted. Officials may prosecute individuals ignoring gathering restrictions. Authorities have also reopened beaches and parks. Businesses can operate 0500-2100 daily but must limit customers to 50-percent capacity. Public transport services are also limited to 50-percent capacity and will be available 0500-2100. Schools remain closed. Officials have suspended the issuance of entry permits until further notice. Inbound travelers are required to have tested negative for a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival. The government is requiring everyone, except medical workers, to quarantine for two weeks. Officials have extended an ongoing ban on Hawaiian Airline (HA) flights between Pago Pago and Honolulu through at least Aug. 31. All Samoa Air (OL) flights also remain suspended.
- Cook Islands: The government has partially reopened the country’s borders as of July 21. Officials are allowing Cook Island citizens and work permit holders who have not traveled outside New Zealand or the Cook Islands in the last 30 days to enter. Passengers can receive exemptions for the 30-day rule from the Ministry of Immigration and Foreign Affairs. Foreigners remain banned from entering the country until further notice and flights from other destinations remain suspended. Authorities have relaxed most domestic restrictions, such as a ban on social gatherings, the closure of educational and religious sites, and limitations on alcohol availability. Bars and nightclubs have reopened, but officials are restricting operating hours to 1100-1800 through March 2021.
- Federated States of Micronesia: Authorities have extended an ongoing state of emergency through at least July 31. 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; occasional flights may operate but are for departing foreign nationals. Authorities are also enforcing enhanced health precautions for cargo and tanker vessels entering Micronesian ports.
- Fiji: Authorities continue to implement restrictions nationwide. Officials have relaxed some gathering and commercial restrictions since late-June. The government is allowing public gatherings of up to 100 people at weddings, funerals, restaurants, cafes, and places of worship. Some facilities, including gyms and pools, have been allowed to reopen. Theaters can reopen with 50-percent capacity. However, a 2300-0400 curfew remains in effect. Officers are monitoring roads during the curfew and will send people home except for work or life-threatening reasons. Businesses with shift workers during curfew hours are required to provide employees with a letter of their work requirements and hours, as well as an official contact number in the event officials want to verify the information. Police are enforcing nationwide social distancing measures, and people ignoring government orders could face fines or imprisonment. Some classes have resumed, including for Year 12 and 13 students. Most foreign nationals have been effectively banned from entering the country. All arrivals are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine. Arrivals from Australia and New Zealand have the option of providing documentation verifying they spent 14 days in quarantine in their home country and tested negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours of departing for Fiji, which will allow them to avoid a strict quarantine but still remains separated from the general public. Travelers from those countries that do not provide the documentation will quarantine at their own cost at a government quarantine facility or hotel. Authorities have called on Fijian nationals to suspend outbound travel. Inter-island transport has resumed, and Fiji Link (FJ) has restarted limited domestic flights. The government continues to ban all cruise ships from docking.
- French Polynesia: The government has reopened its borders to inbound international travelers from July 15. Passengers are required to provide proof prior to boarding that they have taken a polymerase chain reaction test and tested negative for COVID-19 in the last 72 hours. Travelers are also required to present a receipt of health registration of the Electronic Travel Information System. Arriving passengers are required to test themselves four days after arrival, using testing kits provided to passengers as they disembark from the plane. If a passenger tests positive, they will have to report to a health center. Quarantine measures for arriving passengers are no longer mandatory. Gatherings of all sizes are permitted, and sporting and religious services have resumed. However, officials continue to restrict the sale of alcohol Friday-Sunday. Air Tahiti Nui (TN) has resumed domestic flights with health measures in place and expanded service to Mataiva, Arutua, Ahe, Manihi, Hao, Makemo, Gambier, Raivavae, and Rimatara June 14. All but critical travel remains suspended to countries with COVID-19 activity, and cruise ships continue to be banned from docking.
- Guam: Officials have extended the public health emergency through at least Aug. 29 due to ongoing COVID-19 activity. The government has lowered its response level to Pandemic Condition of Readiness Level 3 (PCOR-3) as of July 20. Under PCOR-3, authorities permit all businesses and schools to reopen, though the adjustment does not apply to sporting events and senior citizen centers. Businesses, places of worship, and public transport services must limit patrons to 50 percent of capacity, require people to wear masks unless eating, and abide by physical distance requirements. The government will also allow public gatherings of up to 50 people. From July 24, authorities will allow travelers from low-risk locations, such as Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Micronesia, Palau, and the Northern Mariana Islands, to enter the island without testing or quarantine requirements for visits shorter than five days. Officials 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. Officials are adjusting the length and location of quarantines for arriving passengers based on if they have traveled from a high-risk area. High-risk areas include several US states, some Asian countries, and other regions experiencing large caseloads. Travelers from lower-risk areas can self-quarantine. People coming from a high-risk area who have taken a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test and received a negative result within 72 hours of arrival are also allowed to self-quarantine. Those self-quarantined can election to take a PCR test on the seventh day and could be eligible for early release. Inbound passengers without testing must quarantine at a government facility and have the option to receive a PCR test on the tenth day of quarantine to qualify for early release. A curfew is ongoing for all minors 2200-0600 Mondays-Fridays and 0001-0600 Saturdays and Sundays.
- Kiribati: 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. Nonessential businesses remain suspended.
- Marshall Islands: Authorities have extended a ban on inbound international travelers through at least Aug. 5. The government has also advised residents against traveling abroad. However, the government is considering repatriating some citizens, pending the completion of a quarantine facility and ongoing talks with the Hawaiian government, which may also provide quarantine facilities for some inbound passengers. Authorities are requiring arrivals to quarantine for 14 days,
- Nauru: 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 14 days. Air cargo operations are ongoing but face quarantine measures.
- New Caledonia: Inbound international commercial flights remain suspended through at least July 31, though repatriation, freight, and medical transport, as well as flights rotating France-based personnel, are continuing. Officials are stopping all foreign nationals from entering the territory. Most returning residents will have to self-quarantine for 14 days. Authorities have allowed some passenger transport with Wallis and Futuna to resume, and returning residents from the territory do not have to quarantine. Officials will quarantine visitors displaying COVID-19 symptoms at a medical facility. As of July 21, the government has lifted all COVID-19-related restrictions within the territory. Gatherings of all sizes may occur, restaurants and bars can resume normal operations, without contact tracing or capacity caps, and residents will not need to wear protective face coverings on public transport.
- Niue: The government has extended travel restrictions through Aug. 31; however, officials are allowing weekly flights from Auckland, New Zealand, for repatriation purposes and essential personnel. Nonresident essential workers require an invitation from the government. All arriving passengers must quarantine for 14 days. Authorities continue to extend tourist visas for stranded foreign nationals at no cost.
- Northern Mariana Islands: A state of public health emergency order remains in effect, and the government is maintaining the Community Vulnerability Level at blue, the second-lowest level. Officials are allowing arriving passengers to be exempted from quarantine if they complete an online CNMI Mandatory Declaration Form at least three days before arrival, register to the Sara Alert Symptom Monitoring System and self-quarantine for 14 days, as well as consent to specimen collection five days after arriving. Nonresidents are also required to provide documentation proving that they have taken a PCR test within six days of arriving; passengers who cannot provide proof are required to spend five days in quarantine at their own cost. Passengers who have not fulfilled those requirements will quarantine at designated facilities for five to seven days; travelers must undergo testing before release. Authorities are allowing gatherings of up to 25 people. Officials have reduced an ongoing curfew to 0001-0400 nightly. Businesses can operate 0500-2300 daily but must restrict customers to 75 percent of maximum capacity. Restaurants and bars must limit patrons to 50 percent of maximum capacity, ensure employees have protective equipment, and maintain physical distancing, among other measures. Religious services are available for up to 50-percent capacity. Some entertainment venues, such as gaming facilities and a casino, remain closed. Inter-island travel has resumed, including to Managaha Island. The government previously claimed that local carrier Star Marianas Air (US Airline Code: 1SQ) required a health declaration form for all travelers, but the airline has since denied the claim. It is unclear if officials are still providing health screenings at Saipan International Airport (SPN) before departure. Most flights to the territory remain suspended.
- Palau: Inbound movement from abroad remains suspended until further notice.
- Samoa: The Samoan government has extended the state of emergency through August 2. However, authorities are allowing up to 50 couples to attend church services and meetings, with people required to practice social distancing and stay at least 2m (6.5 feet) away from each other. Restaurants are also allowed to operate on Sundays between 1200 and 2200 for take away services only. Supermarkets and other walk-in stores are allowed to open between Monday and Saturday 0600-1900 and on Sundays 1500-1900. Officials have banned inter-island ferry services between Upolu and Savai’i. Most businesses can operate, but with limits on the number of patrons. Social gatherings are limited to 5 people. The government has also allowed street vendors to resume operations, but only for produce and cooked food. Weddings can also resume at hotels in the country, but guests are limited to 50 people. Markets and beaches remain closed on Sundays. The border remains closed, and inbound international travel is banned. Returning travelers will need a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure and must quarantine for 14 days after arrival.
- Solomon Islands: All nonresident foreign nationals remain banned from entering the country. International flights and cruise ships remain banned, with national carrier Solomon Airlines (IE) suspending international flights through Aug. 31. The government has extended the national state of emergency until July 25. Any returning citizens and residents are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine at a quarantine center upon entry to the country. Honiara remains a national emergency zone, requiring nonresidents of the city to return to their home provinces. The government has encouraged residents to reduce attendance at nonessential events and limit travel between Honiara and other provinces. The government has reopened casinos, pubs, and kava bars in the capital, though nightclubs remain closed.
- Tonga: Authorities have extended an existing state of emergency until at least Aug. 4; additional extensions are possible. Existing restrictions will likely remain in effect, including the closure of Tonga’s borders as well as a flight ban. Authorities continue to ban all foreign nationals; Tongan citizens as well as emergency personnel can enter but must quarantine for two weeks. Arriving passengers are also required to provide health declaration forms upon entry. Officials are isolating asymptomatic passengers at a facility in Tongatapu. The government is still imposing some restrictions as of July 21, prohibiting indoor gatherings of more than 50 people while allowing up to 100 people to meet outside; educational institutions and churches are exempt from the measures. A 0001-0500 curfew remains in effect, while most nonessential businesses, such as gyms and bars, have reopened. The government has banned cruise ships from docking indefinitely.
- Tuvalu: Inbound travelers are required to undergo 14-day quarantines before entering the country.
- Vanuatu: The government has extended an ongoing state of emergency through December 31. All ports of entry remain closed indefinitely. Inbound commercial international flights and cruise ships remain banned, though some international cargo flights have occurred. Domestic flights are operating.
- Wallis and Futuna: The border remains effectively closed, with an ongoing ban on passenger flights and ships. However, officials are allowing some travel with New Caledonia. Authorities are using thermal scanners to screen arriving passengers.
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.