Year 12 & 13 students back to school on 30th June while other students to start on 6th July
Face to face classes in universities can start on 30th June
By: Semi Turaga
Year 12 and Year 13 students in secondary schools will start classes on Tuesday - 30 June 2020 while the rest of the primary and secondary school students, as well as early childhood education, will open one week later, on Monday - 6th July.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has also announced that tertiary institutions as well can open for face-to-face classes from 30 June.
Bainimarama says Year 12 and Year 13 students will start classes on 30 June to allow them to get back into preparing for their exams.
He says their plan to reopen schools has catered for a realigned school curriculum, ensuring that all of Fiji’s schools are on the same page.
Bainimarama says it simply wouldn’t be fair for children in different schools to be disadvantaged just because of where they live, and which school they attend, whether public or private.
He says this is why they have taken the time to address re-opening for the remainder of the 2020 school year with particular care. Bainimarama says principals, teachers, and school management will be responsible for COVID-proofing their schools, practicing the healthy habits that they have embraced in every corner of COVID-safe economic recovery.
He says there are over 238,000 students in Fijian schools across the country.
Gatherings of 100 people allowed but nightclubs to stay closed
By: Semi Turaga
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has announced that nightclubs will stay closed while from Monday, the 22nd of June, they will be allowing for gatherings of up to 100 individuals.
Bainimarama says, for the time being, this 100-person limit will apply to weddings, funerals, cafes, restaurants, conferences, and other community gatherings.
He says all throughout Fiji, we need to start gatherings not as large, uncontrolled masses, but as self-contained groupings.
Curfew now 11pm to 4am starting from tomorrow
By: Semi Turaga
The new nationwide curfew hours starting from tomorrow (Monday - 22nd June 2020) will be from 11pm to 4am.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has announced that the nationwide curfew will remain in effect but to allow for more economic activity and freedom of movement, it will now be enforced from 11pm and lifted at 4am.
He says this is not just a matter of health, but a matter of public well being.
Bainimarama says they have heard from countless Fijians asking that the curfew be kept saying that they feel safer with restrictions.
He says this revised curfew will remain in effect until further notice.
All sports activities and facilities will now be permitted but under strict regulations – PM
By: Navitalai Naivalurua
Sporting facilities and activities will now be permitted but it will be permitted with strict rules.
This has been highlighted by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during his COVID-19 announcement today.
Bainimarama says gyms, fitness centres and swimming pools, both public and those at the hotels will be re-opened from tomorrow.
He says it is the responsibility of facility operators to ensure the facilities are clean and they maintain contact tracing information for every person who uses their facilities by checking for careFIJI installation and keeping a manual log for those who do not have smartphones.
He adds live sporting events can also resume, but with restrictions.
The Prime Minister says formal indoor and outdoor sporting venues can host sporting events with spectators at 50 percent capacity, as long as physical distancing is maintained within the venue.
He says for informal sports events at the community level, the 100-person limit applies and they will be reviewing this policy shortly.
He says team officials will be responsible for symptom screenings of their players and should not allow anyone who is sick to play.
He adds cinemas will also be able to re-open their doors from tomorrow, but under various conditions.
The Prime Minister says cinemas will be limited to 50 percent of capacity and all groupings of theatre-goers such as friends and family members who attend and sit together, will now be required to sit 1.5 metres apart from other groupings or individuals.
He adds in between each showing, service areas need to be wiped down, seats deep cleaned and public areas must be thoroughly sanitised.
Houses of worship to re-open with 100 worshippers at a time
By: Semi Turaga
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says effective from Friday, the 26th of June, they are allowing houses of worship to re-open their doors to 100 worshippers at a time.
He says starting tomorrow, over the next three to four days, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services will be meeting with religious leaders to talk about how the new normal will look in houses of worship, and how they can adapt to protect Fijians who come to them.
Bainimarama says science shows serious risks in houses of worship because of the close proximity, the intimacy of congregations, and practices such as indoor singing.
He says they will be working hand-in-hand with churches, mosques, and temples to explain and limit these unique challenges.
Bainimarama says now more than ever, houses of worship need to be not a source of risk, but of refuge. He says they are asking each church, mosque, and temple to share the burden of responsibility, and look after their worshippers with the same duty of care that is at the centre of all their efforts.
Bainimarama is asking houses of worship to set up hand-washing stations, limit physical contact, encourage distancing measures, and consider holding more services to ensure adherence to the 100-person limit.
careFIJI COVID-19 tracing app now available to download
By: Semi Turaga
The careFIJI app, Fiji's COVID-19 tracing app has been launched by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and it is now available on Google Playstore or the Apple App Store.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says the careFIJI will do far more than making contact tracing more efficient and effective.
He says it will instill a sense of confidence in other countries and show the world, and tourists, that Fiji is perhaps the safest nation on Earth to live, work, and holiday in.
Bainimarama adds that it will bring back lost jobs of friends and neighbours and restore lost income, and put us back on track to economic greatness. He says because the App uses Bluetooth and not data for its core function, careFIJI itself takes almost no data to use once it’s installed.
Bainimarama says careFIJI is designed to be as easy, secure, and hassle-free as possible.
The Prime Minister says it takes around 10 megabytes to install the App.
He says thanks to an agreement struck by the Ministry of Communications, both Vodafone and Digicel have agreed to reimburse their customers with ten times that amount, 100 megabytes free of charge.
Bainimarama says the digitalFIJI team has developed a dedicated website that provides additional information about the careFIJI app.
He says people can visit the website data-free by going to www.carefiji.digitalfiji.gov.fj
If businesses do not comply with COVID-19 safe protocols, we won’t hesitate to go back on easing restrictions - Bainimarama
By: Semi Turaga
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has made it clear that if businesses aren’t complying with the safe COVID-19 measures, the government will not hesitate to go back on the easing of restrictions.
He says most of the public interactions take place in the workplace, wherever that may be.
Bainimarama says especially for those of working indoors for extended periods of time, their places of work can pose a serious risk, that’s why working Fijians must download careFIJI.
He says the government is leading that push through example by mandating that all users of government-issued phones, members of the disciplined forces, and users with phones issued by government-funded statutory bodies, download the careFIJI App. Bainimarama says entities in which the government holds interest and social welfare recipients, other government assistance beneficiaries, as well as civil servants, should all download careFIJI.
He says they will also be working closely with private sector partners, particularly those in key economic sectors with large staff numbers, to encourage uptake of the App.
Bainimarama is asking every business, of every size and across every industry, to be leaders in their respective fields by drawing up their own gameplans for running safe, COVID-proofed operations.
He says every business in Fiji has the responsibility of adhering to COVID-safe protocols, which have been comprehensively outlined, by industry, in the framework that will be posted online. Bainimarama says they are not sending the police to every workplace in the country to enforce these policies, this strategy relies on self-regulation.
He says it relies on businesses stepping up and doing the right thing for their customers and their country but if businesses aren’t complying, they won’t hesitate to go back on the easing of restrictions.
Fiji is working on its own Bula Bubble - PM
By: Navitalai Naivalurua
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has highlighted that Fiji’s leading medical experts are in talks with Australia and New Zealand health experts in laying the groundwork for integrated public health approaches critical to the reopening of our borders.
Bainimarama says Dr Aalisha Sahukhan, Dr James Fong and Dr Jemesa Tudravu are in talks with Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, and are liaising with Professor Michael Baker, the Head of the University of Otago’s Public Health Department.
He says this international, doctor-to-doctor collaboration will continue as we move forward.
He adds while Australia and New Zealand are working out their Trans-Tasman bubble, Fiji’s equal or arguably, greater and the success against the virus puts Fiji in a position to take the lead in the Pacific.
The Prime Minister says the Government is working on a Bula Bubble, between Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.
He says they are working with Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji on the regulations of welcoming Aussies and Kiwis to holiday in Fiji in a manner that is carefully controlled and safely insulated.
He adds Australian and New Zealand tourists who want to visit Fiji will need to follow a strict criteria where visitors will need to present a certificate from a recognised medical institution certifying their 14 days of quarantine in their home country, along with proof of a negative COVID test result within 48 hours of their departure for Fiji.
He says the other option is upon arrival in Fiji, they can complete 14 days of quarantine at their own cost in a Fijian Government-designated quarantine centre or a hotel of their choosing, after which a negative COVID test can clear them to start their “Bula Bubble” vacation.
He further says this Bula Bubble will allow Aussies and Kiwis to once again enjoy the best of Fiji while remaining separate from any other travellers and the general public.
The Prime Minister says they are currently identifying geographically-isolated resorts that are the best fit for the “Bula Bubble” and Fiji Airways, in collaboration with Tourism Fiji and the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport will announce more details in due course.
Fiji establishes safe 'Blue Lanes' for yachts and pleasure crafts while cruise ships are still banned
By: Semi Turaga
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has announced that Fiji is establishing safe “Blue Lanes”, open to those yachts and pleasure craft sailing to Fiji but the requirements are strict.
He says being alone at sea is a verifiable, self-contained quarantine which means anyone coming by pleasure craft to Fiji, so long as they haven’t interacted with others, are very low-risk, but their economic impact is very high-reward.
Bainimarama says any boat coming to Fiji will be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.
He says to start, the only port of entry will be Port Denarau Marina.
Bainimarama adds if this pilot project is successful, they will consider extending Blue Lanes to other ports and marinas. He says those eligible to sail to Fiji fall under two categories, both of which will require them to be tested in another country before departing.
Bainimarama says in the first category if their journey to Fiji will take 14 days or longer uninterrupted at sea, once they dock in Fiji and show proof of a negative test result, everyone on board will be screened by the Ministry of Health for symptoms.
He says if they’re deemed to be healthy, their yacht will be allowed to freely visit other ports throughout Fiji.
Bainimarama says alternatively, those with a journey at sea shorter than 14 days will be required to make up the difference in quarantine once they dock in Fiji at their own cost.
The Prime Minister says if they spend eight days alone at sea, they will then be required to pay for six days of quarantine in Fiji, after which they can be cleared by a negative test result, also at their own cost. He says there’s already been a great deal of enthusiasm shown for ideas like this.
Bainimarama says in fact, interest has been expressed in using the Pacific for travel, maintenance, and stocking in the build-up to the 36th America’s Cup next year, in which Fiji could be used as a safe “parking lot” until the start of the start of cyclone season. He says cruise ships are still strictly banned.
Health Ministry confident we are at a good place for schools to open
By: Semi Turaga
The Acting Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor James Fong says there has been a lot of work done with the Ministry of Education in guiding how they can sort out things like hand sanitizers and making sure they are easily accessible as well as ensuring there is COVID-19 safe behaviour in schools.
He says in the scientific world, it is becoming clearly evident that school children do not push the pandemic as much as adults.
Doctor Fong says this is clear evidence that is beginning to articulate itself quite well and it is one of the reasons why they were able to get students back to school.
He says another thing that they have come to understand is that children not getting to school is not good at all for anybody's long term outcomes, both in terms of health and economic outcomes.
Doctor Fong says they are very cognisant of the fact that they need a lot more educated children in order to sustain many of the efforts that are required to raise Fiji's socio-economic level and therefore better the health outcomes.
He says he is very confident that moving forward there will be a lot more lessons learnt but they are at a good place at this point in time to get schools to open.
Doctor Fong says they are confident that even boarding schools will be able to function.
He also said the Health Ministry has accomplished the first part of saving lives from COVID-19 and now wants to focus a lot more on reducing the adverse health impacts of the loss of livelihood.
Doctor Fong says they want to help everybody in engaging safely in gaining their livelihood.
He says the Health Ministry has achieved what they believe is a sufficient level of COVID-19 containment in this country to be able to say that Fiji is COVID-19 contained.
Doctor Fong says the term COVID-19 free is a term they wish to avoid because they believe as long as the pandemic persists no country can ever be COVID-19 free.
He says they can never say that there is no risk, they can only discuss low risk.
Doctor Fong says the health input into border control has been strengthened because of the response during the acute phase and to a large extent there has been a high degree of medical readiness capacity that has been built up especially in terms of their ability to detect cases early, contain those cases and ensure that they reduce the risk of transmission from each case.
He says they have also increased their capacity in terms of clinical management.
Doctor Fong says very recently they have received a donation of 40 extra machines that have been a game-changer in trying to deal with sick people who get COVID-19.
He adds that these machines are called air home machines.
Doctor Fong says these machines are very important in terms of trying to reduce the need for patients to go on ventilators.
He says the other thing that they did during the acute phase was engaged with a lot of non-medical sectors in helping them set up their guidelines that will help break chains of transmission within the community.
Doctor Fong says they have ensured that they at least start discussing in a lot more detail their COVID-19 safe measures.
He says all of this has been achieved through a whole of government approach through the COVID-19 Incident Management Team.
Doctor Fong says one of the key reasons the Health Ministry was successful was because of the whole of government approach during the acute phase.
Teachers to report to school on the 29th of June - Rosy Akbar
All school teachers are to report to their schools on the 29th of June.
This has been highlighted by the Minister for Education Rosy Akbar in a press conference this afternoon stating that this will ensure that all facilities are prepared to kick start the learning process.
She says classes for Year 12 and Year 13 will resume on the 30th of June while all other levels including special and Early Childhood classes will resume on the 6th of July.
She is urging teachers who are teaching in maritime areas to plan their travel now as the Ministry needs them to be at their different working stations by the 29th of June.
Akbar says school principals, teachers and school managers will be responsible for COVID-19 proofing their schools and ensuring that healthy habits are being followed.
She is urging teachers to download the careFiji app to ensure that their lives and the students are protected when school resumes.
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