Cabinet has approved immediate response measures under the current Emergency Regulations in light of the two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and there will be no immediate lockdown until further notice.
This is based on the assessment of the current risk level as being of ‘low risk’, taken together with the assurance from health authorities, that both persons infected with COVID-19 are currently in isolation at the National Referral Hospital Isolation unit, and they pose no risk of transmitting the virus to the community.
However, the Government through the Health Ministry is strongly advising the public to adopt and implement COVID-19 safety measures for purposes of public preparedness.
Public transport (buses and taxis) operators and drivers are also advised to limit their number of passengers (taxis – maximum of 3 passengers, and buses maximum of 2 persons per seat row).
Other measures approved by Cabinet under the Emergency Regulations are as follows:
1. Early Childhood classes within the Honiara City to close up to 16th October 2020 until further notice, until the education authority issues a further advice on the current situation.
Other classes will continue as usual until further notice.
However, schools must activate their incidental standard procedures, and implement COVID-19 safety measures such as avoid handshaking, apply social distancing, avoid crowded areas, washing of hands with soap and water, use hand sanitizers, coughing into elbows and wearing masks in schools and public places.
2. The Honiara Central Market will remain open until further advice.
However, market vendors and goers are advised to wear facemasks and practice personal hygiene.
That said, illegal / roadside markets in Honiara city and Guadalcanal Province from Burns Creek to Henderson and from White River to Kakabona must be removed.
3. All meetings, seminars or conferences may continue but with the advice to observe full COVID-19 safety measures.
Planned meetings must also be inspected and approved by the Health Ministry 2 weeks before any meeting is convened.
All meeting areas or venues must have proper toilet, washing facilities and hand sanitizers.
4. General public gatherings are discouraged.
However, in the event this occurs, all persons must strictly observe COVID-19 safety measures.
5. Sporting events that have already been approved by the Oversight Committee and have received advice from the Ministry of Health may continue.
However, it is subjected to the full observance of the advice provided by the Ministry of Health on COVID-19 safety measures.
Sports that have not yet been approved by the Oversight Committee, must apply for approval and it can only be considered subject to assessments carried out by the Ministry of Health.
All sporting bodies have been provided with the COVID-19 Safety guidelines for Sports by the Ministry of Health and medical Services.
6. Church services will continue subject to the full observance of COVID-19 safety measures.
In addition to social distancing in seating arrangements, no handshaking & coughing into elbows, worshippers are encouraged to wear facemasks, use hand sanitizers, and churches must have proper water and toilet facilities.
For large gatherings such as weddings, organisers must inform the Ministry of health at least 2 weeks prior to the event so that they can inspect the venue and provide appropriate advice.
The Health Ministry has developed COVID-19 Safety Guidelines that can be used by churches and parishioners.
7. All nightclubs, casinos, public bars and kava bars will remain open subject to the full observance of COVID-19 safety measures.
8. Fund-raising and concerts will only be allowed subjected to assessment by the Ministry of Health of the venues and approval by the Oversight Committee. Thus, organizers of concerts must request the Ministry of health for approval at least 2 weeks before the event to allow time for inspection. Fundraisings or concerts in residential areas are totally banned.
9. In terms of international repatriation flights, the Government is suspending repatriation flights temporarily until further notice.
However, Cargo flights and outgoing passenger services are not affected. Special purpose flights and stopovers are also not affected.
That said quarantine and isolation facilities are strictly out of bounds to the public.
People who have nothing to do in Honiara should remain at home or return to the provinces.
Our citizens in the provinces are also encouraged to remain in the provinces unless there is an urgent need to travel to Honiara.
Prime Minister Sogavare urges everyone to comply with these immediate measures as a means of preparedness for the ongoing safety of each individual and the population as a whole.
Prime Minister Sogavare also wished to make it clear that all other measures under the State of Public Emergency Regulation Orders remain in place throughout the country.
The Government is fully committed to the fight against COVID-19 in the interest of the health and wellbeing of its citizens, national safety and economic stability.