Fiji eases restrictions

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There will be no restrictions on the size of outdoor gatherings after Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama announced ease of COVID-19 restrictions Sunday.

Funerals, weddings, birthdays and other events can be held outdoors without restrictions on the number in attendance.

Indoor venues can operate at 80 percent capacity, and everyone at the event must be fully vaccinated.

The Fijian Government will continue to enforce a mask mandate for all indoor public venues, on public transportation, and in crowded public settings like markets, shopping malls, and bus stand.

Bainimarama said the Fiji Police Force will remain empowered to issue spot fines to rule-breakers.

He said businesses that poorly enforce mask-wearing will be fined or shut down.

“In all other settings outside your home, mask-wearing is still strongly encouraged.”

He also mentioned that mask wearing will not be required if you’re walking the seawall, going for a jog or walk to exercise, or having a picnic on the beach or gathering in your home.

Businesses, workplaces including public transportation can now operate at 80 percent capacity to children and to fully vaccinated adults.

Bainimarama said the only exceptions to this relaxation are taverns, bars, and gaming venues.

“These are especially high-risk businesses due to the way they require people to crowd together.”

“We’ll be announcing a set of protocols that take effect from 11 November that will allow these venues to safely re-open to fully vaccinated members of the public.”

He said all venues must use the new VAX-Check tool to verify the vaccine status of their patrons.

Meanwhile, anyone who is fully vaccinated can now travel to Vanua Levu by boat or by air with transport companies that are COVID-safe compliant.

Bainimarama said travellers must register a negative COVID-19 test result on the Rapid COVID-19 Test before travel.

He said upon arrival, they must immediately enter home quarantine for a period of seven days, but they will be home with family at last.

Bainimarama said travel to the other islands including the outer islands will still be maintained under the current protocols and easing of restrictions will be implemented once there are increased rates of vaccination.

“So, I once again urge all those in the islands to please get fully vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

“We plan to drop any quarantine requirement for inter-island travel once more Fijians in Vanua Levu and other islands are fully vaccinated. From 11 November, we will open regular inter-island travel if and only if vaccination rates continue to steadily rise in the Northern Division and the maritime islands.”

“These are measures I am truly happy to announce on Fiji Day because they are important steps toward reuniting us physically as one nation and one people,” he added.

Bainimarama also announced Year 12 and 13 students will return to school from 01 November.

He said Fiji’s ability to vaccinate adolescents from ages 15 to 17 now opens the opportunity to bring Year 12 and 13 students back to the classroom.

“The Ministry of Education will announce re-openings for other school years later, but we needed to give this group priority because many of these students are preparing for university or vocational training, and they are at an important point in their academic careers.”

“I want to urge parents who have not made sure their 15, 16, or 17-year old is vaccinated to do so urgently so that they can be protected and be safe and get back to their normal schooling,” he said.

Bainimarama also announced the Fijian Government has put daylight savings time on hold for this year.

He said putting a hold on daylight savings will make the reopening of scheduled commercial air service much smoother.

Bainimarama said by doing so, “we will not have to worry about shifting arrival and departure times, which may look like a simple thing but requires some significant logistical adjustments domestically and internationally”.

SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS