This was among a number of changes which became effective as of October 3 when the Controller revoked the previous measures and reissued 12 new measures.
Effective October 3:
- International flights will now open up for Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and the Solomon Islands. Previously flights came only from Australia and flights from other countries had to be approved by the Controller. Passengers are still required to get approval from the Controller’s office to travel into the country and must do PCR test with negative results to be allowed to come to PNG;
- Passengers from New Zealand, Fiji, Solomon Islands, all Australian states except Victoria, New Caledonia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Palau and Niue who have spent seven days in these countries will now be quarantined for seven days at home or at a designated quarantine facility in PNG. Those seeking home quarantine will need the Controller’s approval;
- There are no restrictions on domestic flights and passengers are no longer required to seek prior approvals to travel. However, they are expected to continue to observe COVID-19 measures in safe distancing, wearing of masks, regular hand sanitising/washing, and are required to fill a National Department of Health form which is to be handed to the Provincial Health Authority upon arrival;
- Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and GeneXpert remain the only two COVID-19 testing equipment;
- The mandatory wearing of face masks remains in the National Capital District;
- There are no limitations on the number of passengers on taxis and public motor vehicles in the NCD. However, drivers and passengers are required to wear masks at all times that covers their nose, mouth and chin;
- Venues or parts of venues that provide night club activities and services and only serve alcohol without food will remain closed for the duration of the pandemic;
- Licensed premises that sell takeaway alcohol shall not sell alcohol on Saturdays or Sundays;
- Schools, churches and sporting competitions must comply with all COVID-19 protocols as set out, including social distancing, wearing of face masks and hand sanitising;
- Ban on gatherings of 50 or more persons is still in force. Sporting activities and churches are exempted but will need to strictly adhere to all COVID-19 protocols;
- No COVID-19 vaccination or unapproved pharmaceutical intervention shall be provided to any person within PNG; and
- No vaccine testing or trials for COVID-19 shall occur within PNG.
Manning said: “Whilst I have removed some of the restrictions and relaxed or eased others, I urge everyone not to let their guard down. We must continue to be vigilant and observe all COVID-19 protocols.
“COVID-19 is here in PNG and will be around at least for the next year or so. The WHO has embarked on securing a vaccine by the end of 2021. But even if a vaccine is found, it will be a couple more years before we can even have access to it.
“So our best defense now is to take heed of the COVID-19 protocols and protect ourselves.”
Manning also sounded a stern warning to people who have been misleading the public with the recent measures.
“They sent out measure one only with the message that all restrictions were removed. This is not only irresponsible but a criminal act. You cannot mislead the public, especially during this global pandemic that has so far claimed the lives of over one million people with over 35 million people testing positive for COVID-19.
“I will have this investigated and those responsible will be dealt with.”