NATION

‘No Grog Parties’- Ministry Warns As Time For Viti Levu Border Reopening Nears

“When we open up containment borders, we open up the borders for travel, however, it does not mean that we plan on having a big birthday party in the village."
14 Sep 2021 12:17
‘No Grog Parties’- Ministry Warns As Time For Viti Levu Border Reopening Nears
Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete. Photo: Ronald Kumar

With containment borders within Viti Levu highly likely to open up this week, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services has reiterated the need to continue to adhere to strict COVID-safe measures.

Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete said all public health safe measures are still in place and they would need to be adhered to as borders reopen and people are able to travel.

“When we open up containment borders, we open up the borders for travel, however, it does not mean that we plan on having a big birthday party in the village.

“The Fiji Police Force will still be going out there issuing public health infringement notices to anyone that is caught not adhering to public health measures enforced by law,” Dr Waqainabete said.

“If you are going to the West, then you are urged to go straight to the destination you are going to,” he said.

“You are still not allowed to mass gather so that means you are not allowed to go from one village to another and have some grog.

“You will still need to mask up in public, you will still need to practice COVID-safe protocols as you are still binded by the public health law.”

Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services Dr James Fong said the ministry was also looking at vaccination rates along the Queens and Kings highway for implementation of appropriate measures during reopening.

“We are looking at all the vaccination rates in localities along the highway and will put in measures as appropriate,” Dr Fong said.

Dr Fong also stated that there was a downturn in COVID-case numbers coupled with the decreasing numbers of admissions, severe disease, and deaths which consistently indicated that Fiji was on the tail end of the epidemic.

“Our hospital COVID-bed occupancy is getting less with increased critical care bed reserves which are now increasingly deployed for non-COVID clinical care and our oxygen therapy intervention reserves are at 80 per cent.

“These gains will support our national endeavour to get people back to their homes and facilitate our return to greater social and economic stability.”

Hotel, resorts owners prepare for COVID-safe reopening when borders reopen

Tanoa Hotel Group Area Manager Narend Kumar said the reopening of the Viti Levu borders would be great news for the tourism sector.

“Welcoming news. Tanoa Hotel Group is ready to reopen, with strict protocols in place. We will follow the guidelines set by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services,” he said.

“Tanoa brand is strong with locals hence we will capitalise on it. Plus, we are accredited with Tourism Fijis’ Care Fiji Commitment initiative on COVID-19 travel safe travel protocols. Looking forward to the opening, our staff are very excited to resume work.”

He added that there would be appropriate measures put in place to ensure the safety of guests and staff.

“We would encourage all guests who wish to utilise our restaurants to be fully vaccinated. This will depend if the ministry allows hotels to open restaurants. We are a fully vaccinated company; all staff are 100 per cent vaccinated,” he said.

Denarau Corporation Limited (DCL) general manager Nesbitt Hazelman said a number of infrastructure works had been carried out on the island and they were also ready to re-open following all safe COVID-19 protocols.

“DCL reopening will be guided by the Ministry of Health protocols in relation to entry on to the island, all visitors must wear a mask and temperature checks are conducted at the entry Bure,” Mr Hazelman said.

“Each entity on the Island has developed their own standard operating procedure adhering to the Health Ministry’s minimum requirements. We all take our duty of care very seriously.”

In a recent statement, Tourism Fiji chief executive officer Brent Hill said there are specific protocols in place for businesses, including its careFIJI commitment and other best-practice health and safety measures, including full vaccination of staff and guests designed to align the industry to a COVID safe environment.

Dr Waqainabete also added that hotels and resorts had specific COVID-safe guidelines to follow while reopening and that has to be adhered to at all times.

Church collects data to verify information on unvaccinated ministers

As part of its preparations on the reopening of churches in the country, the Methodist Church in Fiji has started collecting data from its 59 divisional heads. This is to get a fair idea on which of its ministers have chosen not to vaccinated and their reasons.

General Secretary for the Methodist Church in Fiji Reverend Iliesa Naivalu said the message had been sent out to its 59 divisional heads around the country to submit names of their ministers and deaconesses who have been vaccinated and those that have not been vaccinated.

“I have also requested divisional heads to get medical certificates from those that have not been vaccinated due to medical reasons. This has to outline the medical reasons for why they have not been vaccinated.

“If there is no medical certificate, then a written response of why they have chosen not to be vaccinated.”

Reverend Naivalu said the Health Ministry had outlined the importance of vaccination.

“If the ministry would, at a time require everyone to be fully vaccinated to be able to enter a church, this would mean that the work of those ministers who have not been vaccinated will be affected,” he said.

“We have received positive feedback from those in the islands and a number of divisional heads, but there are however some left to receive the responses from; many around the urban areas too.

“I am pleading once again to all those in the church to co-operate with us as we are binded by the law of this land.”

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj



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