Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has announced that from 4am today, 17th September 2021, the containment area borders will lift everywhere on Viti Levu, the curfew hours for Viti Levu will be from 9pm until 4am and everywhere in Fiji, social gatherings of up to 20 people will be permitted indoors in people’s homes.
Bainimarama says domestic travel will be open everywhere on Viti Levu from today however inter-island travel will remain highly controlled, including to Vanua Levu, until we achieve higher vaccination coverage in Vanua Levu and our outer islands.
He says with domestic travel open, public service vehicles will be able to operate at 70% capacity, and employers who were required under COVID-safe measures to transport staff to and from work will no longer need to do so.
The Prime Minister says for outdoor venues, gatherings will be allowed up to 30 people.
From October 4th, all workplaces, tertiary institutions, houses of worship, hotels, restaurants, cafés, cinemas, gyms, pools, tattoo parlours will be able to open at 70% capacity, but only to fully vaccinated persons.
Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama says as part of the Vaccination Authentication Exercise, they will be rolling out a VAX-Check tool that allows for real-time digital verification of vaccine status that venues can use to confirm the vaccine status of their patrons.
He says when the doors of these venues open, all other COVID-safe measures must be strictly enforced.
The Prime Minister says this means masks must be worn, two metres of physical distance should be maintained where possible, and careFIJI must be installed on everyone’s phones, with Bluetooth switched on.
Bainimarama says these relaxations are not for anyone to tread carelessly.
He says they are introducing new regulations that allow for spot checks on venues, businesses and houses of worship.
Those who do not respect these measures risk serious fines or being shut down.
The Prime Minister stresses that we must wield these new freedoms responsibly as our journey to the new normal is a marathon, not a sprint.
Bainimarama says this war is not over and the defence is to continue to test, trace, and isolate COVID-19 positive patients.
He advises that if you are feeling unwell, please stay home, and please continue to keep a careful eye on those most vulnerable, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
The Prime Minister says community leaders should continue to keep careful track of who exits and enters their communities, employers should continue to enforce COVID-safe practices for their staff and their customers and leaders in houses of worship should be sure their devotees are adherent to COVID-safe practices as well.
He has also revealed that they will soon publish the vaccination rates of all areas along the King’s and Queen’s highways and other major routes so that travellers know which areas are safest to stop to take a rest, fill in fuel, buy vegetables, coconuts to drink or hot corn or BBQ to eat.
Bainimarama says everyone should read that list carefully before getting in the car and heading anywhere.
Please avoid areas with lower vaccination coverage.
If you are an unvaccinated Fijian living in an area with low vaccine coverage, do not wait another day to get the jab.
If you are only partially vaccinated, please maintain strict adherence to every COVID-safe measure and make sure to get your second jab.
The Prime Minister also confirms at the 70% threshold, the curfew hours for Viti Levu will move from 10pm to 4am.
At the 80% threshold, the curfew will be from 11pm to 4am, they expect that all businesses will fully re-open to fully vaccinated Fijians, all sports including team sports can be played again, and stadiums can re-open.
Bainimarama says their goal is to free our country and our economy from the rut of the pandemic.
READ FULL COVID-19 UPDATES.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says once we vaccinate at least 80% of adults in Fiji, we will be in an excellent position to open quarantine-free travel with other countries that have deployed the same Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines we are using in Fiji.
Bainimarama says at this point, that includes Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Korea, Singapore, and parts of the USA.
The Prime Minister says at the rate we are going, we expect to be ready to accept travellers well before our goal of celebrating Christmas in Fiji with our friends from around the world.
He says in fact, they are looking at reopening as soon as this November.
Bainimarama says while much of that depends on the next several weeks and what the science informs us is safest, he wants the Fijians who depend on tourism to know they are doing everything possible to get you back to work and bring this industry back from the brink.
He says they will be establishing mutually recognised vaccine protocol agreements with the governments, which essentially shows that we are comfortable with their levels of vaccine coverage and that we can rely on the vaccine status of their travellers and, vice versa, that Fijians can prove their vaccine status when travelling abroad.
Bainimarama says for Fiji’s part, Fiji Airways has achieved the highest possible SKYTRAX 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating and the Diamond certification by the Airline Passenger Experience Association and SimpliFlying, and nearly every hotel and tour operator in Fiji is Care Fiji Commitment certified.
The Prime Minister also confirms that their plan is not to open quarantine-free travel with the entire world in one go.
He says it will be gradual, starting with travellers from exclusive green list areas with similarly high rates of vaccination to ours and low test positivity rates.
Travellers from these potential green list areas must be fully vaccinated and receive pre-departure approval, which will be easily obtained online.
Though they are fully vaccinated, these travellers must also register a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of boarding their flight to Fiji.
Once they arrive, these travellers can vacation in designated travel safe areas where they can enjoy the best of Fiji knowing that everyone they interact with will be fully vaccinated, from their fellow guests to the hotel staff, to the tour operators.
Bainimarama says they are drawing up the boundaries of these travel safe areas in close cooperation with the tourism industry.
He says they will have regular in-country testing and clear protocols in the event of breakthrough infections.
The Prime Minister says the well-established protocols for quarantine centres will remain in effect for people who are not vaccinated or who are not travelling to Fiji from a green list country and they are also accommodating for the long-awaited reunions between friends and family throughout the Fijian diaspora.
Fully vaccinated travellers from green list countries can travel throughout Fiji after spending five days within a travel safe area and clearing another negative COVID-19 test result.
READ FULL COVID-19 UPDATES.
Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong says they will be vaccinating children between 15 to 17 years with the Moderna vaccine and this exercise is expected to start from Monday.
Dr Fong says they will not be making the vaccine mandatory for children though it is the best choice any young person can make for their health and the health of others.
While making the announcement, Dr Fong says they will be vaccinating children between 12 to 14 years with the Pfizer vaccine and more announcements will be done soon.
Dr Fong is encouraging parents and guardians to discuss with their children about the vaccine, encourage them that the vaccine is best for them and help them to understand why they are being vaccinated.
He says the vaccination for children between 15 to 17 years will be rolled out through school clusters and details will be announced this weekend.
Dr Fong further says parents and guardians will be asked to sign a consent form and they can register their children online through the vaccine portal from Saturday.
Dr Fong reiterates that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are safe for children and no short cuts have been taken in granting the approvals for these vaccines to be used to vaccinate children.
He adds that Moderna provides 95%t efficacy while Pfizer provides 92%.
Dr Fong further says like any other vaccine, there is a small chance children who are partially or fully vaccinated can still get COVID.
However he says there is an exceeding rare probability that they will get severe COVID and less likely instance they may die.
Dr Fong says all adults working in schools must be vaccinated and any adult that comes into the school compound must be vaccinated.
READ FULL COVID-19 UPDATES.
Permanent Secretary for Education, Doctor Anjeela Jokhan has revealed that external examinations for Year 12 and 13 students are most likely to be held early next year.
Jokhan says with students starting to receive their first jab from Monday, they will be given weeks of preparation before they sit for their exams.
She says they will not just bring the students and get them to sit for exams because the Ministry is mindful that not every student has done the same work despite being provided study materials.
Jokhan says the whole idea of bringing students back is to ensure that everybody is on the same page before they sit for exams.
When questioned if students in other years will progress to the next grade or will they have to repeat, Jokhan says they are still looking at several options.
She says they have already revealed that they are looking at a 4 term year which means that students come in term one and revise difficult concepts.
To date, 97.7% of the target population in Fiji have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 63.5% are now fully vaccinated.
This means 580,504 adults have received their first dose and 372,434 have received their second doses.
At the 70% threshold, the curfew hours for Viti Levu will move from 10pm to 4am.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says at the 80% threshold, the curfew will be from 11pm to 4am, they expect that all businesses will fully re-open to fully vaccinated Fijians, all sports including team sports can be played again, and stadiums can re-open.
READ FULL COVID-19 UPDATES.
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