The Oversight Committee has sought and received approval to allow the entry of 17 incoming passengers into the country today, Friday 3rd September 2021, under a special ‘one-off’ arrangement.
The 17 passengers including 2 returning nationals either live in Brisbane or transited through Brisbane to travel to Honiara.
9 of the passengers are essential engineers working with Kitano on the International Airport improvement project and the Kukum Highway Phase 2 project.
Both these projects are in danger of either closing or that the Government would need to meet substantial financial costs to make up for the delay in the construction timeframe brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The other 8 passengers include 2 returning nationals from Port Moresby, 2 senior diplomatic staff who will help oversee their respective government’s development support programs to Solomon Islands, 2 senior personnel in one of our State-Owned Enterprises, a senior staff of UNICEF and a senior staff of Soltuna.
All 17 passengers have complied with the pre-departure requirements under the Emergency Powers (COVID-19)(No.2) Regulations 2021. All 15 foreign nationals have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Two of the passengers, our two returning nationals have each taken their first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Papua New Guinea and will complete their vaccination in Honiara.
The Government has not yet lifted the suspension on incoming passengers.
Until the suspension is lifted, the entry of passengers including our nationals and foreign nationals will continue to follow these ‘one-off arrangements’.
Today’s arrivals come on the back of the recent ‘trial lockdown exercise’ to test our updated SOPs to ensure they are delta-variant complaint. Our front liners will implement these new measures to look after the 17 passengers that arrive today. The number of passengers allowed to enter today was also determined by our capacity to fully implement and observe the updated SOPs.
Decisions on future ‘one-off’ flights will continue to be informed by the ‘lessons learned’ in the recent trial lockdown, as well as experiences gained in looking after the 17 passengers that arrive today.
The numbers of people that will be allowed to enter the country in future ‘one-off’ flights will depend on the capacity of our camp management and health teams, security arrangements, and quarantine spaces available.
The Government has recommenced the planning process for the repatriation flight for students that had graduated in Fiji which was cancelled following the delta variant outbreak in Fiji.
The Government is also looking to repatriate our citizens stranded in Australia and other locations within the framework of our enhanced COVID-19 protocols.