Tonga restrictions eased as COVID cases drops across the country

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The Tongan Government has agreed to allow bars and kava clubs and certain face to face education in classrooms to open and put in place new isolation and quarantine timelines, starting from Saturday, as COVID-19 cases in the Kingdom continues to decrease.

The Prime Minister, Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni announced the changes in the first face to face press conference with the media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conference room in Nuku’alofa since Tonga moved back to red colour restrictions two months ago.

“These easing of restrictions has been agreed to by Cabinet following Ministry of Health’s advice on the status of COVID-19 in the country and the fact that cases are continuing to decrease,” PM Sovaleni stated.

New curfew time starting from 11pm to 5am.

All government services return to full service from Monday, 09 May and public transport will also open, including bus services.

Bars and kava clubs around the country now open from Saturday, but operators will need to get permit from the Ministry of Health once they provide their compliance plan.

“It is important that all those who operate bars and kava club to get that done and convince the Ministry of Health of their management plan and how they will be able to manage customers and members of the public when they are open,” said Sovaleni.

Classroom education will be open to students in Form 2, 5, 6 and 7. This will also include Tertiary students.

Students in Forms 1, 3 and 4 and all primary and kindergarten levels will still have radio and television classes in the next two weeks.

The Prime Minister, who is also Minister of Education and Training, says the onus will be on school management, teachers and students on how they manage the health requirements when schools open.

“We will see how they go and will monitor over the next two weeks,” he said.

Returning passengers will now quarantine for seven days before they are released if they still test negative.

Essential staff who are returning and those that have recovered from COVID-19 will only undergo three days of quarantine and will be released if they return negative results from a PCR test.

Repatriation flights will continue on Wednesday and Thursday from Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

Government has opened restriction on funerals, birthdays, weddings and churches. But all need to follow health requirements of wearing masks, keep social distancing and hand washing.

The Ministry of Health and Tonga Police Force will still continue to monitor events and those who do not follow the requirements will be taken to task.

Families or bubbles can play sports such as pickle ball, lawn tennis and badminton at home.

Gyms will also open from the new week, with members of the public requested to be responsible.

But all contact sports such as volleyball, netball, rugby, rugby league, athletics and other contact sports will need to discuss their competition and plans with the Ministry of Health.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Health Dr Saia Piukala said there is a need to push vaccination for children in the five to 11-year old age category.

Since vaccination started three weeks ago only 27% of the targeted population have been vaccinated.

New statistics revealed today confirmed there were only 61 new positive cases that were recorded in the last 24 hours in Tongatapu, Vava’u and Ha’apai.

Updated vaccination figures of the 12-year old and above category stands at 98% for the first dose, 91% of the second dose and 57% for the booster shot.

Dr Piukala stated that in the last five-days average new cases have been less than 100 cases.

“It has been 13 weeks since first case on February 1, 2022 and we are thankful for everyone for working together by the members of the public and Ministry of Health in following health advisories such as wearing masks, washing of hands and keeping social distancing,” he said.

SOURCE: TONGA GOVT/PACNEWS