BY ALEX DADAMU
PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare in his nationwide address on Monday has announced that the Cabinet in its meeting recently has agreed to some new measures.
Sogavare urged everyone to comply with these immediate measures as a means of preparedness for the ongoing safety of each individual and our population as a whole. He said it must also be made clear that all other measures under the state of public emergency regulations orders remain in place throughout the country.
He made clarifications that based on the assessment of the current risk level as being of low risk, taken together with the assurance from our health authorities that both persons infected with COVID-19 are currently in isolation at the National referral hospital isolation unit and they pose no risk of transmitting the virus to the community, the Prime Minister stated that there will be no immediate lockdown until further advice.
Other Measures approved by the Cabinet are:
* The public is strongly being advised by the Government through the Health Ministry is to adopt and implement COVID-19 safety measures for purposes of public preparedness.
*Social Distancing in Public transport; Buses and Taxi’s operators and drivers are advised to limit the number of passengers – Taxi’s maximum of three passengers and buses maximum of one to two passengers per seat row.
*Quarantine and isolation facilities are strictly out of bounds to the public.
*People who have nothing to do in an Area should remain at home or return to the provinces.
*Citizens in the provinces are encouraged to remain in the provinces unless there is an urgent need to travel to Honiara.
*On-air skills for schools within the on your city boundary.
*Early Childhood classes’ to close for two weeks up to 16 October 2020 until Education Authority issues further advice on the current situation.
*Other classes to continue as usual until further notice.
*Schools must activate their incidental standard procedures and implement COVID-19 safety measures which include no handshaking and apply social distancing.
*Avoid crowded areas, washing hands with soap and water, use hand sanitizer sanitizers, coughing into elbows, and wearing masks in schools and public places.
*The Honiara Central Market will remain open until further advice. However, market vendors and NGOs advised to wear face masks and practice personal hygiene.
*The illegal roadside market in the City and Guadalcanal province from Burn Creek to Henderson, and from White River to Kakabona must be removed.
*All meetings, seminars, or conferences may continue, but with the advice to observe full COVID-19 safety measures, planned meeting venues must also be inspected and approved by the health ministry two weeks before any meeting is convened.
*All meeting areas of venues must have a proper toilet, washing facilities, and hand sanitizers. General public gatherings are discouraged. However, in the event this occurs, all persons must strictly observe COVID-19 safety measures.
*Sporting events that have already been proved by the Oversight Committee, the Minister of Health have advised that it may continue. However, it is subjected to the full observance of the advice provided by the Minister of Health on COVID-19 safety measures. As for new sports, or sports that have not yet been approved by the Oversight Committee, they must apply for approval, and it can only be considered subject to assessments carried out by the Minister of Health.
*All sporting bodies have been provided with the COVID-19 safety guidelines for sports by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
*Church services will continue including weddings, but subject to the full observance of COVID-19 safety measures. In addition to social distancing it in seating arrangements, no handshaking, and coughing into elbows. Worshipers are encouraged to wear face masks. Use hand sanitizers and church churches must proper water and toilet facilities for large gatherings such as weddings. Organizers must inform the Minister of Health at least two weeks prior to the event so that they can inspect the venue and provide appropriate advice.
*The Ministry of Health Ministry has developed COVID-19 safety guidelines that can be used by churches and parishes.
*Nightclubs, casinos, public bars, and Kava bars will remain open of course, but subject to the full observance of COVID-19 safety measures.
*Fundraising and concerts will only be allowed subject to assessment by the Ministry of Health of the venues and approval by the Oversight Committee. Thus, organizers of concerts must request the Minister of Health for approval at least two weeks before the event to allow time for inspection.
*Fundraising concerts in residential areas are totally banned.
*In terms of international repatriation flights, the government is suspending repatriation flights temporarily until further notice.
*Cargoes flights and outgoing passenger services are not affected. Special Purpose flights and stopovers are also not affected.
Prime Minister Sogavare, in the meantime, said that with the confirmed positive cases, the current emergency regulation will be amended to provide for the measures for quarantining and isolation of persons and their testing regimen.
“The amendments of the emergency regulation will also include provisions for extended quarantine periods, if required to comply with World Health Organization discharge criteria for COVID-19 infected patients, or where other circumstances necessitate an extended quarantine period for individuals or groups of persons within quarantine stations,” the Prime Minister stated.