Border Closed Until December As Repatriation Proceeds

New Zealand Defence Force returning Vanuatu nationals home in June.

Photo: NZ Defence Force

Vanuatu’s State of Emergency for COVID-19 will remain in place until December 31 and may be extended if the situation warrants an extension.

That is the stand of the Government (as per the Council of Ministers approval earlier), reiterated to Daily Post by Public Relations Officer (PRO) to the Prime Minister’s Office, Fred Vurobaravu.

Mr Vurobaravu says Vanuatu’s approach to COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place, given the COVID-19 situation in neighbouring countries such as Australia, Fiij and Papua New Guinea.

He said the much talked about Tamtam Bubble is a concept that is still being worked on in preparation for a post-COVID-19 and pending the instructions from the National Task Force and the National Disaster Management Office after assessments and reviews of the pandemic situation in the region.

At this stage a Tamtam Bubble is unlikely to become reality this year, as 2021 is becoming more likely the year for the travel bubble to be implemented.

The Government PRO said, while borders remain closed, the focus now is on repatriating seasonal workers under New Zealand’s Recognized Seasonal Employer’s scheme and Australia’s Seasonal Workers Programme as well as students.

He says a total of 7,000 citizens that are overseas are targeted in the second phase of repatriations.

There are also arrangements being made to bring home from New Zealand the body of the High Commissioner of Vanuatu to New Zealand, Johnson Naviti who passed away recently, as well as the body of chief Kenneth Worwor.

Vurobaravu also revealed that the government, through the Ministry of Finance has established a Revenue Committee to look at how best the country can create its own revenue internally with less dependence on the outside world.

Meanwhile, Air Vanuatu revealed last week that its first flight to begin the repatriation phase two will begin tomorrow (Wednesday August 12, 2020).

The airline says, as announced by the Vanuatu Government, each returning passenger is required to purchase his or her own airfares.

Brisbane – from AUS$500/pp one way

Auckland – from NZD$600/pp one way

Noumea – from 29,555XP/pp one way

Nadi – from FJD$765/pp one way

The airline says once purchased, tickets are non-refundable in case of cancellation or No-Show.

Changes are not permitted. Business class seats are not available for sale.

Customers can purchase tickets through Air Vanuatu’s regional sales offices in Sydney, Auckland, Noumea and Port Vila. Tickets are not available for sale online.

Ticket sales will be closed 72 hours before departure as the airline is required to provide the passenger manifest to Vanuatu Public Health and NDMO for approval in order to arrange appropriate quarantine facilities prior to arrival in Port Vila.

Passengers holding existing tickets with Air Vanuatu must purchase “new” tickets to be included on the repatriation flights, the airline informed the public about this last week.

Any tickets currently held as credit will be valid for future travel until December 2022.

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