The Council of Ministers (COM) met on Thursday this week and made the following decision (Decision No. 17) requesting for a State of Emergency (SoE) for: (1) Continuing Prevention and Strengthening Containment Measures in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic; and (2) to respond to the Tropical Cyclone Harold Impact Damage.
The Council of Ministers noted the minutes of the National Disaster Committee (NDC) Decisions dated 7th April 2020.
The Council of Ministers (COM) approves for a State of Emergency (SoE) to be declared for the purpose of maintaining prevention and containment measures of COVID-19 along Vanuatu’s international border and to respond to Tropical Cyclone Harold impact in affected provinces of Torba, Penama, Sanma, Malampa and Shefa.
The Council of Ministers approved for the President of the Republic of Vanuatu to declare a State of Emergency under the Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Act No.23 of 2019.
The Council of Ministers further approved for Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA) to ensure peace and security to be maintained, improve health facilities according to IPC standards, maintaining good hygiene practices and physical distancing, censorship of media information related to COVID-19, and Ensuring the continuation of all essential services.
The Council of Ministers approved that religious services resume to normal while maintaining good hygiene practices and physical distancing.
The Council of Ministers approved for a State of Emergency on Tropical Cyclone Harold response to assist affected areas, upgrade NDMO capacities in Luganville to coordinate TC Harold response, and to consider imposing curfew on affected islands in Torba, Penama, Sanma Malampa and Shefa provinces,
In other approvals by the Council of Ministers, COM approved that all ministries reprioritize resources towards COVID-19 and TC Harold response prior to utilization of emergency fund, COM also approves that SoE shall be for a period of 30 days and shall be extended subject to advice of the National Disaster Committee, COM approved that Family Protection from domestic violence is a priority. COM is mandating the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice and the Judiciary of the Republic of Vanuatu to enforce this decision.
The COM also approved for the Minister of Climate Change to issue Orders and Regulations to effectively carry out TC Harold and COVID-19 disaster responses.
The Council of Ministers also approved the National Disaster Management Office to also respond to the current ash fall disaster caused by Yasur Volcano on Tanna Island.
COM also approved that Vt125 million from the stimulus package be directed towards the TC Harold response and recovery including focus on ash fall damage caused by Yasur volcano on Tanna Island.
Schools, sports activities and Restaurants and Kava bars on Shefa and Tafea Provinces can resume to normal duties while maintaining good hygiene practices and physical distancing by Tuesday 14th April 2020.
Furthermore the COM approved that the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities (MIPU) reprioritizes its resources in the affected provinces to: Clear the roads, maintain the roads, clear the airstrips and ports and telecommunications.
The Council of Ministers approved that what applies to businesses over COVID-19 issues be also applied in shipping in particular to affected ones as part of stimulus package –COM Decision No. 16 (12).
COM approved that all government agencies must comply under Section 36 of Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Act.
It was endorsed that Water Tanks donated by Japan Government be distributed to affected areas caused by Tropical Cyclone Harold.
The Council of Ministers instructed the Minister of Climate Change to ease restriction on cargoes especially international relief supplies whilst still imposing COVID-19 control measures.
The Minister of Climate Change and the National Disaster Management (NDMO) was instructed, through France Partners, New Zealand, and Australia, to assist with helicopters.
The Council of Ministers decided that any communities or persons who wish to raise funds or do fundraising to assist TC Harold‘s victims should apply to the Minister of Climate Change for a permit.
The Daily Post could not get the relevant government agencies to confirm as to when the President will declare a 30-day State of Emergency (SoE) following the approval for such State of Emergency (SoE) by the Council of Ministers because yesterday was a public holiday.