Critical Alert

Papua New Guinea eases international travel controls, ends Port Moresby curfew as of Oct. 6. Entry ban, social distancing measures ongoing.


Alert Begins 06 Oct 2020 03:21 AM UTC
Alert Expires 06 Nov 2020 11:59 PM UTC

 

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

 

Summary
Papua New Guinea has eased some international travel controls and domestic social distancing measures amid reduced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Authorities lifted all restrictions on domestic flights and removed the approval requirement before travel. The government has also ended a 0001-0500 curfew and capacity limits on public transport in the National Capital District (NCD). However, NCD residents must wear facemasks in indoor public areas and on public transport. Authorities continue to ban gatherings of more than 50 people nationwide, though religious congregations, sporting events, and markets are exempt from the restrictions. However, these establishments must ensure adequate social distancing and that patrons observe safe hygiene practices.

Companies that have reopened must comply with government mandates to prevent the spread of COVID-19; directives may vary by industry and type of establishment. Food businesses can only provide alcohol with food orders. All nightclubs and bars remain closed indefinitely; takeaway alcohol sales can only occur Monday-Friday.

Officials are now allowing flights from Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and the Solomon Islands to enter Port Moresby's Jacksons International Airport (POM). 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. Port Moresby's Motueka Port and ports in Rabaul, Morobe, and Madang, are the only official maritime ports of entry for vessels and cargo shipments arriving in the country; however, all ports remain open for cargo handling.

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 continue health screenings for all arrivals, and most inbound passengers must quarantine for 14 days in Port Moresby. However, the government allows passengers who have spent the previous seven days in Australia (except Victoria), New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, and several South Pacific nations to undergo seven days of quarantine at designated facilities or home. Permission is required to self-quarantine. Other returning citizens and permanent residents can stay at a designated hotel paid for by the government or at a hotel of their choice at the traveler's expense. Authorities will quarantine permitted foreign nationals at a hotel at the traveler's cost. Immigration and customs officials also require health declarations and travel history information before allowing passengers into the country. Officials may deny entry to passengers suspected of having COVID-19 or quarantine them in government facilities, 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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