As announced by the Hon. Prime Minister last night, we have made some changes to the Containment Zones and to policies governing business operations during the pandemic.
While there have been changes to Containment Areas, businesses cannot go back to operating in the usual manner and will still have to abide by the minimum COVID-safe measures: mandatory wearing of masks, maintaining 2-metre distancing, regular hand washing/sanitisation and activation of careFIJI app.
For Nadi-Lautoka zone
Effective 4 am today, the Lomolomo border separating Nadi and Lautoka has been removed — forming one Nadi-Lautoka Containment Zone.
Curfew hours in Nadi-Lautoka Containment Zone and Viti Levu, except the Lami-Suva-Nausori zone, will be from 8pm to 4am commencing today. Curfew hours within the Lami-Suva-Nausori Containment Zone remains the same: 6:00 pm to 4:00 am
All businesses can operate, with the exception of those that are considered high risk.
We are working on protocols for these high-risk businesses to open and are quite advanced with protocols for businesses such as hairdressers and barber shops.
Vanua Levu (North)
For our fellow Fijians living in the North and the maritime islands, we have now eased restrictions and are allowing all businesses, including high-risk businesses, to operate. Of course, this needs to be done in a COVID-safe manner.
Our containment measures have been effective enough to keep Vanua Levu and our maritime islands safe. However, having no recorded cases should not allow us to become complacent. We want to keep those areas free of COVID, and for this to happen, everyone must make sure that safety comes first.
Non-Containment Areas (Viti Levu)
Businesses, except for high-risk, in the Viti Levu non-Containment areas can safely resume, following COVID-safe measures and observing the 8pm to 4am curfew.
For the Lami-Suva-Nausori Containment Zone, only essential and approved businesses can operate. These protocols are unchanged, with the sole exception of the removal of internal borders.
In line with the Hon. Prime Minister’s announcement, certain businesses and industries that are able to comply with additional measures will be given approval to operate on a case-by-case basis.
We have been in discussions with a number of businesses, and are reasonably assured, that some can now operate. These businesses have the ability to establish bubbles that allow safe movement from home to work and return.
I know there will be anxiety amongst Fijians on allowing more businesses to open, but after being closed for almost a month, there is a socio-economic imperative to consider.
These businesses are important to the Fijian economy. They employ thousands of Fijians who rely on them for their livelihood. Many have export orders to fulfil and a number of them are extremely important to our micro and informal sector.
Again, health and safety will take precedence. Which is why, the curfew hours for the Lami-Suva-Nausori Containment Zone remains 6pm to 4am and high-risk businesses remain closed.
The removal of borders between these zones means that Fijians in these zones need to follow COVID-safe measures more stringently. Mandatory wearing of masks, maintaining 2-metre physical distancing, regular hand-washing/sanitisation, activation of careFIJI app, and moving only for essential reasons — these protocols all remain.
As was announced, we will soon be introducing on-spot fines for any breaches. Whether you are found without a mask or if you are a business found not adhering to COVID- safe measures.
We are doing this so businesses will be accountable. Businesses should take responsibility of their premises, as well as customers or employees. A business that allows anyone who is not following the minimum COVID-safe measures to enter their establishment, will be held responsible. After more than three violations, businesses may be made to shut down.
In line with the Hon. Prime Minister’s announcement, the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport will be responsible for the following:
Continue to assess applications for passes through the COVIDpass portal (www.covidpass.mcttt.gov.fj). Again these passes include curfew passes, movement of essential goods and permits to operate
Registration of Fijians seeking relocation from Vanua Levu and maritime islands to Viti Levu and vice-versa, by calling 163
Developing and creating awareness of existing business protocols to allow businesses to open in a COVID-safe manner
The Ministry, together with selected agencies, will conduct monitoring of businesses that are able to operate to ensure compliance with COVID-safe measures.
Relocation of Fijians – Domestic Repatriation
As stated by the Hon. Prime Minister, Fijians who are in the North and Maritime Islands and want to return to Viti Levu, will be able to do so.
Since the announcement last night, the Ministry has already registered over 600 Fijians through our 163 helpline.
As much as movement needs to be restricted, there are hundreds of displaced Fijians who haven’t seen their families for close to a month now. There are children as young as 2 years old without their parents, there are the elderly and more vulnerable who don’t have the appropriate care. So, as did when repatriating Fijians stranded overseas, we still have a duty of care to Fijians domestically.
You will need to register with the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport — providing the reason and the preferred mode of travel, duration of your stay and where you intend to stay when relocating.
These relocations will not be for a short period of time, not just a few days visit. It must be for permanent relocation or for medical reasons.
Fijians who want to travel from Viti Levu to the non-containment zones or to other containment zones will be advised of the requirements and movement protocols as soon as they are finalised. In the meantime, we ask that you to register and await further advice – we shall get back to you in 4 days with developed protocols.
Please remember, there may be certain restrictions for areas that are considered high-risk or are under lockdown.
Fijians wanting to relocate can call our helpline 163 to register their interest.
Business operators are urged to remember that businesses cannot operate as normal. Normal has a new definition that requires everyone to take extra precautions.
How you set up your back-of-house operations is equally important as how you serve your customers. Your employees can no longer be seated in a small, confined space with no physical distancing. If they do, you are risking lives.
We urge businesses to consciously go beyond the minimum protocols and come up with safer ways to do business. You know your businesses better than we do.
If you have the ability to implement improved digital solutions in your operations, please do so. If you can, this is the time to invest.
With the rise in new cases, our contact tracing efforts have become even more important. Therefore, we request that businesses prioritise downloading the careFIJI application.
We need to implement COVID-safe practices holistically. Not only on paper, but create awareness amongst all your staff and anyone who walks through your doors. We need to police this ourselves and be accountable for our actions.
One sure way the business community can assist is by being as adaptive and as flexible as possible because these protocols can change depending on the situation.
These recent measures do not give reason to begin moving around unnecessarily, to visit our friends and family. There should only be three reasons to leave your homes – first, to buy goods such as food, second, for essential and approved work, and third, for medical reasons.
We, as a Ministry, are doing the best we can to re-open businesses safely. We need your help and your commitment to ensure these measures are effective in keeping Fiji safe.