The Controller of the Bougainville COVID-19 State of Emergency, Deputy Commissioner and Chief of the Bougainville Police Service, Francis Tokura, has issued two separate orders on Monday, in response to the first case of the COVID-19 virus and the election which got underway yesterday.

Tokura released the new orders as the autonomous region approaches the critical polling phase of the 2020 fourth Bougainville General Election.

Emergency Order #7 relates to Standard Operating Procedures to be employed during polling day.

Supplementary Order #10 on the other hand, pertains to restrictions on people movement within the region.

Emergency Order #7, among other things, is for:

• Office of Bougainville Electoral Commission (OBEC) officials, security personnel, candidates and scrutineers to have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s) like face mask, clinical hand gloves, hand sanitizers and alcohol swipes in all polling locations.

• OBEC officials and security personnel to ensure there’s hand washing before entering and leaving polling booths, use of hand sanitizers before entering and leaving polling booths, compulsory wearing of face masks by all polling officials in all polling areas, social distancing of 1.5-2 meters is observed by Polling Officials, security personnel and everyone taking part in the election, use of alcohol wipes by polling officials and voters in voting compartments.

• Polling to be conducted in locations where there is adequate space to implement social distancing requirements.

• Not more than three (3) voters to be allowed into the polling booth at any one time.

• COVID-19 awareness posters to be displayed alongside official polling posters at all polling locations.

• If a sick person is reported at a polling location, the Assistant Presiding Officer or a member of the Polling Security Team should notify the respective District COVID-19 Response Teams.

• Polling to start at 8am and close at 6pm daily from Monday to Friday only.

Supplementary Order #10 Restricting Movement, among other things, is for:

• All PMV operators to ensure their drivers and crew maintain a daily record of all their passengers to enable implementation of contact tracing.

• Operators to ensure adequate PPE is obtained and supplied to their drivers and crews.

• All PMV drivers and crews to ensure face masks and hand gloves are used when operating and conveying passengers.

• Drivers and crews to ensure strict hygiene measures, with no smoking and chewing of betelnut.

• Restriction on all inter-constituency and inter-district movements for four (4) days starting from tomorrow (Wednesday 12th), except for essential travels, to ensure necessary Contact Tracing in Bougainville is fast tracked.

• All private businesses, development partners and essential public service continue to carry out their duties in compliance with the “New Normal” and safe work practices of hand washing, use of face masks, use of protective gloves and hand sanitizers.

• Restriction on Movement of people across the Bougainville/Solomon Islands Border (Order 17 of Emergency Order #4) is maintained.

Bougainville’s extended State of Emergency will lapse tomorrow.

The COVID-19 Task Force and Secretariat wants a further extension that will last until the end of elections in September.

But that has to go before a Caretaker Government comprising six (6) Ministers before anything can happen.

There Bougainville Executive Council has been revoked now that the region is going through the election.

A new government is expected to be in place on September 17th when the election writs are returned to the Speaker of Parliament.

In the meantime, if the SoE period lapses on August 14, Health Secretary Clement Totavun explained that Bougainville will fall back into being covered by the National Pandemic Act 2020, passed by the PNG National Parliament earlier.

Solomon Times Online is partnering with The Bougainvillean to bring you up to date news from Bougainville - focusing on efforts to contain Covid-19, what is being done at the border with the Solomon Islands and the elections that has started today.


Kelvin Kaspar is a former Chief Sub Editor with the National Broadcasting Corporation of PNG in Port Moresby, but is now the Editor of The Bougainvillean – an upcoming Monday weekly newspaper for Bougainville.