International Border Restrictions Remain As SOE Extended

In its meeting this week to endorse the extension of the State of Emergency (SOE), the Council of Ministers (COM), agreed on other areas that needed to be addressed to facilitate services during the SOE.

COM firstly approved for the State Law Office to prepare regulation order for the Minister responsible for the National Disaster Management, Bruno Leingkon, to allow international cargo to be brought into the country as well as allow domestic chartered sea vessels on their return travel to transport kava from Harold affected islands to Port Vila and Luganville.

Vessels to be used are only those that are chartered by the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO).

The Council of Ministers in agreeing for the President of Vanuatu to extend the State of Emergency under the Disaster Risk Management Act No. 23 of 2019, outlined that the SOE will be over the whole of Vanuatu for the prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be in response to the impact of Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Harold.

The 30-day extension approved by COM can also be extended later on, subject to the advice of the National Disaster Committee (NDC).

The Council of Ministers approved for all ministries to reprioritize resources towards COVID-19 and TC Harold Response prior to utilization of emergency fund.

The Minister of Climate Change has been tasked by COM to issue regulation orders for the Ministry of Internal Affairs to ensure peace and security are maintained; improve health facilities to infection prevention and control standards for COVID-19 response; maintain international border restrictions in line with COVID-19 prevention measures; maintain good hygiene practices and social distancing; control of COVID-19 information that is released to the media; and regulation for TC Harold disaster affected islands and areas.

Finally COM noted that a draft repatriation plan has been developed for the NDC’s endorsement to be presented to COM at its next meeting for approval.

This means Vanuatu citizens stuck overseas will have to wait a few more days before the next Council of Ministers to know about any plans for repatriation.

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