Manning made this comment following criticisms on the new measures on international and domestic travel.
“There will be no mandatory vaccination nor situations created to force people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This will always remain a personal choice for every Papua New Guinean and we respect that,” he stated.
“I apologise to the people of PNG for the fear and anxiety caused because of the way in which the measures were written, which created room for misinterpretation. The amendment to the measures was simply to include those who have been vaccinated as a sixth category under Schedule one of Domestic Measure Number 3.
“We have since revoked the measure dated 30th of June and simplified it to best capture our intent in the new measure dated the first of July, 2021.
“It was not our intention to marginalise those who have not been vaccinated, nor force them to be vaccinated but to ensure that those who have been vaccinated are free to travel when and wherever they wish domestically.
“In our attempt to face the ongoing daily challenges of COVID-19, such as the discovery of new variants while at the same time returning to the New Normal or Niupela Pasin, there will be amendments made to our measures to capture the progress made and lessons learnt, as in the recent inclusion of the 6th category to the Domestic Travel requirements.
“We will always respect our people’s right to choose to be vaccinated or not to be, but at the same time, we will endeavour to ensure that those who chose to be vaccinated are not inconvenienced in any way by the measures in place.”
In accordance with Domestic Travel Measure 3, Schedule 1 - all intending travellers must comply with 1 of the 5 approved reasons to travel. As outlined in Schedule 1, those reasons are:
1) Students returning to their place of residence or educational institutions;
2) Persons returning to their usual residence;
3) Essential business travel;
4) Seeking medical assistance and medivac; and
5) Emergency transport, including but not limited to repatriation of deceased persons.
Fully vaccinated persons are exempt from the five reasons to travel. They are free to travel as and when they wish to. The airlines are responsible for compliance of these reasons prior to the issuance of domestic travel.
“As the Controller of the PNG national response, I will continue to appeal to citizens to take the vaccine. Let me take this time to also remind parents and guardians that as per the categories of the National Department of Health National Vaccine Roll-out Program, persons under the age of 18 are not required to be vaccinated.”