Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: South Pacific nations and territories continue to adjust measures amid reduced COVID-19 activity as of June 12. Travel restrictions ongoing.
- Alert Begins: 12 Jun 2020 08:27 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 30 Jun 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 June 12, the following restrictions are in place:
- American Samoa: The government has extended a state of emergency through at least July 1. The government is maintaining a Code Blue threat level (the lowest on a three-tiered scale) and encouraging residents to wear masks in public. However, the government has eased some COVID-19-related restrictions. 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. Inbound passengers must acquire health clearances within three days before departure. The government is requiring everyone, except medical workers, to quarantine for two weeks. Officials have reduced commercial passenger flights, and Hawaiian Airlines (HA) flights between Pago Pago and Honolulu remain suspended through at least July 1.
- Cook Islands: The government will partially reopen the country’s borders from June 19. Officials will allow Cook Island citizens and work permit holders who had not traveled outside either 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. Authorities are not issuing visitor permits as of June 7. 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: Most foreign nationals have been effectively banned from entering the country. All arrivals, regardless of nationality, must undergo 28-day self-quarantine. Authorities have reduced the nationwide curfew to 2200-0500 daily. 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. Officials have banned public gatherings of 20 or more people. Police are enforcing nationwide social distancing measures, and people ignoring government orders could face fines or imprisonment. 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 relaxed most COVID-19 restrictions. Gatherings of all sizes are permitted, and sporting and religious services have resumed. However, officials will continue to restrict the sale of alcohol Friday-Sunday weekly. Air Tahiti Nui (TN) resumed domestic flights May 22 with health measures in place; TN plans to further expand domestic service to Mataiva, Arutua, Ahe, Manihi, Hao, Makemo, Gambier, Raivavae, Rimatara from June 14. The government has suspended all but critical travel to countries with COVID-19 activity and banned all cruise ships from docking. Authorities may still require passengers to obtain health clearance within five days of arrival; the measure applies to all inbound passengers, who must present the clearance at check-in counters before boarding aircraft. All arriving passengers must quarantine for two weeks upon arrival but can choose between self-quarantine and staying at government-designated facilities. The government plans to reopen the country’s borders to international inbound travelers from July 15. Although passengers will not be required to undergo quarantine, travelers will still be required to have taken a polymerase chain reaction test within 72 hours of traveling to French Polynesia, provide a medical certificate, and for non-resident travelers to have international travel insurance.
- Guam: Officials have extended the public health emergency through at least June 29. 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. Residents and essential workers will be able to quarantine at their homes. The government has restricted public gatherings and suspended school. Authorities have allowed some commercial establishments to reopen, including shopping malls and retail stores, and gyms reopened as of June 8. though other entertainment venues remain closed. Government offices reopened June 1, though employees must adhere to social distancing measures. Public transport, healthcare, grocery and convenience stores, pharmacies, banks, and other essential services are exempt from the measures. 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 have been suspended.
- Marshall Islands: Authorities have extended a ban on all inbound international travel through at least July 5. The travel ban also applies to residents and citizens. The government has also advised residents against traveling abroad. Leaders have warned people living or working on outlying islands that the government would shut down all transport to population centers upon the discovery of COVID-19 cases.
- 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 two weeks. 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 June 15, the government will lift 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 masks 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 for 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: Most flights to the territory remain suspended. Officials are no longer requiring arriving passengers to submit a health screening showing a negative test result for COVID-19. Authorities will quarantine all arriving travelers at designated facilities for five to seven days and undergo testing before release. The government reduced the Community Vulnerability Level from red to yellow, allowing more business activity to resume. However, authorities continue to ban gatherings of more than 10 people and encourage the public to wear masks and maintain physical distancing requirements. Businesses can open to the public 0500-2100 daily and must restrict customers to 50 percent of maximum capacity. Restaurants have reopened and can have dine-in customers provided owners limit patrons to 25 percent of maximum capacity, ensure employees have protective equipment, and maintain physical distancing, among other measures. Religious services can also resume, but with only 25 percent of building capacity. Some entertainment venues, such as bars, gaming facilities, and a casino, remain closed. Officials have reduced an ongoing curfew to 2300-0500 nightly. 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.
- Palau: Inbound movement from abroad remains suspended until further notice.
- Samoa: 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. Authorities are allowing ferry travel between Upolu and Savai'i islands on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. A five-person limit on social gatherings remains in place. However, most businesses continue to operate, but with limits on the number of patrons. As of June 10, officials have allowed churches to resume several daily services, but with physical distance requirements in place. 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.
- Solomon Islands: All nonresident foreign nationals remain banned from entering the country. International flights and cruise ships are banned indefinitely. 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 night clubs remain closed.
- Tonga: Authorities have extended an existing state of emergency until at least 2000 July 8; additional extensions are likely. The government will likely maintain a border closure and related flight ban as long as the state of emergency remains active. A ban on all foreign nationals remains in effect. Tongan citizens and emergency personnel can enter the country but must quarantine for two weeks; officials will isolate any symptomatic passengers at a military facility in Tongatapu. Authorities continue to require health declaration forms upon entry for all passengers. Officials have further eased social distancing measures as of June 12. Gatherings up to 50 people can take place indoors, while up to 100 people can meet outside; the measures do not apply to churches or educational institutions. Authorities have reduced an ongoing curfew to 0001-0500 nightly. Most nonessential businesses, such as gyms and bars, have reopened; however, nightclubs and bars may only operate Wednesdays through Saturdays. The government has banned cruise ships from docking indefinitely.
- Tuvalu: Inbound travelers are required to undergo 14-day quarantines before entering the country.
- Vanuatu: All ports of entry remain closed indefinitely. Inbound commercial international flights and cruise ships remain banned, though some international cargo flights have also occurred amid the ongoing response to Tropical Cyclone Harold. 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.