People are not allowed to travel to a different island in Vanuatu by ship during the two-weeks State of Emergency (SOE) as a measure to reduce the potential risk of the deadly coronavirus as it continues to spread globally.
Acting Regulator of the Office of Maritime Regulator (OMR), Kembro Manderson, told the Daily Post that passengers of two ships, MV Makila and Princess Marie were prevented from boarding in Port Vila yesterday (Sunday).
This came following an instruction issued by the Caretaker Minister responsible for the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) to OMR for the temporary suspension of passenger service on inter-island vessels, he said.
Mr Manderson said they (OMR) have been advised not to allow passengers to board any ship from Port Vila and those on the island traveling to urban areas.
“This is to control the movement of people exempting cargo service,” he said.
According to the instruction from the caretaker minister, all inter-island cargo shipping vessels are required to comply with strict cargo handling requirements in compliance with the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) directions.
“The same applies to cargo handlers at the wharf and off-loading ports.
“All inter-island cargo shipping vessel are required to make it clear that hygiene protocols will be observed and these are to be detailed and clearly communicated to all people. For example, these include 1.5 meter spacing, reduced numbers inside the office and hand washing as per guidelines provided by the Health Promotion Unit and located at https://covid19.gov.vu/.
“All inter-island cargo shipping vessel are required to present to OMR and NMDO their schedule for cargo shipment.
“They are required to present their protocols for handling cargo loading, transportation and off-loading in compliance with good hygiene practices and social distancing and MOH directions handing cargo shipment.
“Also, they are to present contingency plans outlining how to protect staff from COVID-19 and be able to maintain service in this current environment”.
Meanwhile, Air Vanuatu has also announced in a statement that all passenger services across its domestic network are suspended effectively as of today (Monday) and will last during the SOE.
Transportation of cargo on a case by case basis is exempted as authorized by NDMO and all domestic air cargo are instructed to comply with strict handling requirement.
All hygiene protocols are to be detailed and communicated to the people.
An exception for emergency flights will be given upon request and authorization from NDMO.