Countries and territories in the South Pacific region continue to adjust restrictions to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Several governments are maintaining public health emergencies but have eased or lifted movement and business restrictions. Measures vary across the region. As of Oct. 20, the following controls are in place:
- American Samoa: The government has extended a state of emergency declaration through Nov. 1, and officials are maintaining Code Blue threat level, the lowest on a three-tiered scale. Authorities 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 who violate gathering limits. Businesses can operate from 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. Beaches and parks have reopened. Schools have also resumed classes. The issuance of entry permits remains suspended until further notice. Inbound travelers must test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to entering American Samoa. Arrivals must quarantine for two weeks, with the exception of medical workers. Authorities continue to suspend Hawaiian Airlines (HA) flights through Nov. 1. Samoa Air (OL) flights also remain suspended indefinitely; officials are regularly reviewing conditions and could allow OL flights to resume at short notice.
- Cook Islands: The government is allowing citizens, permanent residents, work permit holders, and resident permit holders into the country. Passengers traveling to the Cook Islands must complete a COVID-19 test no earlier than 96 hours of departing for the islands. Arriving travelers must undergo supervised quarantine for 14 days. All other passengers are banned from entering the country indefinitely. Authorities have relaxed most domestic restrictions. Bars and nightclubs have reopened, but officials are restricting operating hours to 1100-1800 through March.
- Federated States of Micronesia: The government has banned citizens from traveling to countries affected by COVID-19, including the US, Japan, and China. The government has also banned all inbound flights, with exemptions for cargo deliveries and repatriation flights. Authorities are also enforcing enhanced health precautions for cargo and tanker vessels entering Micronesian ports.
- Fiji: Most foreign nationals remain effectively banned from entering. Fiji Airways (FJ) continues to suspend all international flights. Officials require allowed passengers to undergo a 14-day quarantine and download the government's careFiji contact tracing mobile application. Authorities have called on Fijian nationals to suspend outbound travel. Restrictions remain in place nationwide, though officials have relaxed some gathering and commercial measures. Some venues, including theaters and those hosting community events like weddings, can operate at 50-percent capacity. Gyms and pools have reopened. Some classes have resumed, including for Year 12 and 13 students. Inter-island transport has resumed, and Fiji Link (FJ) has restarted limited domestic flights. Cruise ships remain banned from docking. A 2300-0400 curfew remains in effect; officers are monitoring roads during the curfew and will send home people who are without valid reasons, such as work or emergency purposes. Businesses with shift workers during curfew hours must provide employees with a letter on their work requirements and hours and an official contact number for verification. People who breach regulations could face fines or imprisonment.
- Guam: A public health emergency remains in place through at least Oct. 30, and the government is maintaining Pandemic Condition of Readiness Level 1 (PCOR-1). Social gatherings may take place with up to five people. The government will reopen parks and beaches and allow public and private pools to operate. Outdoor fitness classes can take place at full capacity. Indoor religious services, gyms, fitness centers, and dances studios can also resume, with approval of social distancing plans. Authorities previously eased restrictions on retail stores and service businesses. All reopened businesses and religious services can operate at 25-percent capacity. Outdoor dining has resumed at restaurants in addition to take-out service. Owners must ensure 2 meters (6 feet) between customers at reopened establishments. Essential businesses, such as banks, grocery and convenience stores, healthcare providers, pharmacies, and gas stations, continue to operate without capacity limits. Office work has also restarted, though officials continue to encourage work from home arrangements; meetings are allowed by appointment only, including for government services. All businesses must maintain customer information for contact tracing purposes. Officials continue to ban entry to individuals with travel history to mainland China within the past 14 days. The government requires arrivals to quarantine for 14 days. Inbound passengers will quarantine at government facilities until receiving a COVID-19 test on the sixth day. Travelers can complete the remainder of the quarantine period at home if they receive a negative test result.
- Kiribati: The government has extended the border closure until at least the end of December. Authorities allow cargo and humanitarian flights. Officials will authorize some repatriation flights, beginning with flights from countries and territories without COVID-19, in the coming weeks. Officials require all passengers to spend 14 days in a COVID-19-free country before entry and to produce a health clearance for COVID-19. Travelers who do not have the required health clearance will not be allowed to enter Kiribati. Authorities have also increased security at all ports of entry. Nonessential businesses remain suspended.
- Marshall Islands: Inbound international travelers remain banned through at least Nov. 5; officials are considering an extension of the restriction through the end of 2020. The government has suspended nonessential outbound air travel until further notice. Some US military personnel have been allowed to enter with a three-week quarantine period. Authorities are requiring allowed citizens to quarantine at government facilities for 14 days on arrival, though some people may have to quarantine for up to 21 days if entering without authorization. Entry for fishing vessels from countries or territories with COVID-19 activity, cruise ships, and private ships remains suspended. Cargo shipments are allowed, but ships must remain at sea for 14 days before entry.
- Nauru: Officials are allowing some essential international travel. Inbound passengers must spend 14 days in a designated safe country before entry; the designated countries include mostly Pacific countries, including Australia (except Victoria State), French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and New Zealand, among others. Arrivals must wear protective face coverings on inbound flights, complete a health declaration form, undergo checks for COVID-19 symptoms upon landing, and quarantine for at least five days at a designated residence under health observation before release. Aircrew members, medical workers, and transit passengers are exempt from the requirements. The government requires all commercial maritime crew to remain at sea for 14 days and provide documentation 12 hours before arrival; authorities will conduct COVID-19 tests onboard vessels; ships can only enter the port after test results become available. Air cargo operations are ongoing with quarantine measures for the crew.
- New Caledonia: Officials have extended restrictions through at least March 27, 2021. Inbound international commercial flights remain suspended, though authorities will authorize some repatriation, freight, and medical transport flights. Foreign nationals remain banned from entry, except for those essential to the economy. Most returning residents have to quarantine for 14 days in government-run facilities; returning residents from Wallis and Futuna do not have to isolate. Officials will quarantine visitors displaying COVID-19 symptoms at a medical facility. The government has lifted all domestic COVID-19-related restrictions. Gatherings of all sizes may occur, restaurants and bars can operate without contact tracing or capacity limits, and residents do not need to wear face coverings on public transport.
- Niue: Most foreign nationals remained banned from entry; however, exceptions are in place for the children, spouses, and other dependents of Niue residents, as well as for diplomats and essential workers. Nonresident essential workers require government approval before entry. Foreign nationals must quarantine in New Zealand for two weeks before travel. Officials are allowing weekly flights from Auckland, New Zealand, for repatriation and essential personnel; arrivals 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; however, the government has downgraded the Community Vulnerability Level to Blue - the second-safest level - and relaxed social distancing measures. Officials have shortened the nightly curfew by four hours to 0200-0400, with exceptions for essential employees, medical care, and emergency services; violators will face fines. Most social gatherings are now capped at 25 people; limits for religious services are now increased to 75-percent capacity. Businesses can operate 0500-0100 daily at 75-percent capacity. Restaurants and bars must ensure employees have protective equipment and maintain physical distancing, conduct temperature checks for patrons, and ensure customers wear protective face coverings, except when eating. Schools can reopen after obtaining official approval. Some entertainment venues, such as gaming facilities and casinos, remain closed. Public beaches have also reopened outside of curfew hours, but primarily for wellness and fishing activity. Inter-island travel continues to operate. Most flights to the territory remain suspended. Officials are exempting inbound travelers 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, self-quarantine for 14 days, and consent to a COVID-19 test five days after arrival. Nonresidents have to provide documentation that they have taken a PCR test within six days prior to arrival; passengers who cannot provide proof must spend five to seven days in government-designated quarantine sites at their own cost and undergo testing before release.
- Palau: International travel has officially resumed, though flights remain restricted through at least January. The government plans to allow at least two flights with the US per month; other flights may operate in the coming weeks, but entry will remain limited to available quarantine capabilities. Inbound travelers must self-quarantine at their place of origin for 10 days and take COVID-19 tests at the beginning of the self-quarantine period and within 72 hours before departure. International passengers must also apply for a quarantine certificate and book a quarantine facility in advance. Travelers must pay for quarantine in most cases. Authorized travelers must quarantine 14 days; arrivals must also agree to monitor and report their health for seven days beyond the quarantine period.
- Samoa: Officials have extended the state of emergency through Oct. 26. Most social gatherings are limited to five people; up to 50 couples can attend church services, weddings, funerals, and meetings, with protocols such as two-meter (6-foot) physical distancing in place. Restaurants can operate 0600-2200 Monday-Saturday and 1200-2200 Sunday for takeaway services. Supermarkets and other walk-in stores can open 0600-1900 Monday-Saturday and 1500-1900 on Sunday. Most businesses can operate with limits on the number of patrons. Street vendors' operations are limited to produce and cooked food. Ferry services between Savai'i and Upolu island are operating Monday-Saturday. Authorities will allow flights between the two islands for medical reasons on Sundays. All businesses, except restaurants and markets, public transport, and private pharmacies, are closed on Sundays. Most foreign nationals and international flights remain banned until further notice. Returning travelers will need a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of boarding the Samoa-bound flight and must isolate for 14 days after arrival. Travel between Samoa and American Samoa is possible with protocols, such as requiring passengers to provide evidence of their presence in American Samoa for 28 days before departure and a medical exam within 72 hours before boarding the Samoa-bound flight.
- Solomon Islands: A state of public emergency remains in place through Nov. 30. The government has begun to implement social distancing measures after two repatriated citizens tested positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine. Officials have closed early childhood centers and roadside markets as a precaution. Authorities have also restricted the number of passengers in taxis and buses. The government continues to encourage Honiara's residents to avoid nonessential events and limit travel with other provinces. Casinos, pubs, kava bars, and nightclubs remain open but must follow social-distancing guidelines. Nonresident foreign nationals remain banned from entering the country. International flights and cruise ships remain banned, though some repatriation flights are occurring. National carrier Solomon Airlines (IE) has suspended scheduled commercial international flights through at least Jan. 10. People who can still enter the country have to quarantine for 14 days at designated sites upon arrival. The government has increased security in border areas with Papua New Guinea's Bougainville autonomous region.
- Tonga: Authorities have extended the state of emergency through Oct. 26. Indoor gatherings are limited to 50 people, while outdoor events can involve up to 100 people; exceptions are in place for educational institutions and churches. A nightly 0001-0500 curfew remains in effect. Most nonessential businesses, like bars and gyms, have reopened. Cruise ships remain banned from docking. Foreign nationals remain banned from entering; Tongan citizens and emergency personnel can enter but must quarantine for two weeks. Arrivals have to submit health declaration forms upon entry.
- Tuvalu: Inbound travelers are required to undergo 14-day quarantines before entering the country.
- Vanuatu: The state of emergency is in effect through Dec. 31. All ports of entry remain closed indefinitely. Inbound commercial international flights and cruise ships remain banned, with an exception for some international cargo flights. Domestic flights remain operational.
- Wallis and Futuna: The border remains effectively closed, as passenger flights and ships remain banned. However, officials are allowing some travel with New Caledonia. Authorities are using thermal scanners to screen arriving passengers.
Countries and territories will likely continue to adjust their response in the coming days and weeks, depending on COVID-19 activity within their borders and neighboring countries.
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.