Businesses back, sports activities begin as vaccination reaches target
Gift to the Nation and the world as Fiji marks 51st Independence Anniversary
Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama has given the greatest gift to his people on Fiji Day marking the 51st Anniversary of Independence- opening all activities without any restrictions, as the country surpasses its vaccination target.
He said that the country’s borders will open on December 1, 2021 for fully vaccinated travellers from Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Qatar, Germany, Spain, France, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan and most Pacific Island Countries and Territories.
“To come to Fiji, travellers must have spent at least 10 days in any of these places. This list is not fixed, countries can be added as they achieve widespread vaccination of their populations.
Fiji will have a no-jab, no-fly policy,” he said.
Tourists from travel-partner countries will have no quarantine requirement from 11 November onward ahead of the official reopening on December 1, 2021. Instead, after showing proof of vaccination and testing negative for the virus 72 hours prior to their departure, they will arrive in Fiji and go to their hotel.
Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama addressing the Nation on Fiji Day on October 10, 2021 (Facebook)
Strict travel conditions
Travellers aged 18 years and above must be fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or (this is a new addition) the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 Vaccines. Before departing for Fiji, anyone aged 12 years and above must show a negative RT-PCR result for Covid-19 from a test taken within three days of departure. At Nadi Airport, immediately upon arrival, all travellers must download ‘Care Fiji’ onto their phones.
Mr Bainimarama also announced the resumption of all sports activities.
“I am very happy to announce that we can start playing contact sports again, including Rugby, Netball, Football, Basketball, and Cricket. And there will be no restrictions on the size of outdoor gatherings. Funerals, weddings, birthdays and other events can be held outdoors without restrictions on the number in attendance. Indoor venues can operate at 80% capacity, and everyone at the event must be fully vaccinated,” he said.
However, face-covering including masks and vaccination is mandatory for anyone attending these events, he said.
Mr Bainimarama announced that more than 80% of the adult population has been fully vaccinated and that the target was achieved long before the set date of October 31, 2021.
“We hit our goal a full three weeks ahead of schedule. And today, on Fiji Day, we can celebrate with some major announcements about what we can all expect life will look like for us heading into December of this year,” he said.
Fiji offers exciting locations for tourists (Tourism Fiji Photo)
Gratitude for sacrifice
Thanking the people of Fiji for their ‘sacrifices,’ Mr Bainimarama praised the discipline and compliance observed over the past several months.
“We did not regain the privilege of returning to our Churches, Temples and Mosques simply because we wanted it or even demanded it. We earned it through sacrifice. Fiji’s streets were never filled with mask-less protestors calling for the premature rollback of health restrictions. We returned to our houses of worship, to our places of work, to our businesses and into the arms of our friends and family the right way: By becoming one of the fastest-vaccinated countries in the world. And we should be proud to have made that journey together with compassion, patience, and vigilance,” he said.
However, it is ‘not mission accomplished’ and Covid-19 is still lurking, he warned.
He said that although about 80.3% of Fijians are fully vaccinated, there are many who received only one dose of the vaccine and hence partial protection is not enough.
With its exotic beaches, food and friendly people, Fiji is a favourite tourism destination for New Zealanders (Newsroom Picture)
Mission to optimise vaccination
“Our mission is to make sure all those Fijians get the second dose. And as for the several thousand people who are not vaccinated at all, some of whom represent large chunks of certain communities in certain locations, we need to get them off the side-line and into this national effort,” Mr Bainimarama said.
He acknowledged the hardships that Fijians had to endure during the months of the pandemic, the most significant of which was the ‘loss of freedom.
But with the high rate of vaccination, and the ‘No Jab, No Job’ policy, much of the freedom can be restored.
“Tens of thousands of Fijians now also have a chance to return to their livelihoods, whether they work in hotels, restaurants, bars, tour companies, factories, or as drivers, roadside vendors, or other self-employed entrepreneurs,” he said.
Paying tribute to the people on Fiji Day, Mr Bainimarama said that he attended the first Fiji Navy Church Service after five months of worshipping from home.
“Sitting among my fellow servicemen and women, along with my loved ones and friends, new and old, I was grateful. Grateful to every Fijian who helped get us here; our doctors, nurses, and members of our disciplined forces, the lorry drivers, and our teams deploying food rations and disbursing unemployment assistance, and grateful to each of you, the Fijians who have chosen the protection that vaccines offer,” he said.
Win Together Sweepstakes
As a part of its efforts to promote vaccination, the Fijian government has instituted a lottery scheme called, ‘Win Together Sweepstakes,’ with ten winners getting F$51,000 each.
“We named this National Vaccine Lottery, the Win Together Sweepstakes because even if your name is not among these ten lucky Fijians, all of us win when all of us become fully vaccinated. We have shared in the sacrifice of this struggle as the President reminded us in his Fiji Day address and we all share in the success of our response. Our national prize is the good health of our people and the ability to live our lives and earn our living, as we all choose. The best reward for being vaccinated is the protection vaccines provide against Covid-19. But it takes time to get both doses, and those who have made that good choice deserve a “thank you” from their Nation,” Mr Bainimarama said.
I am also very happy to announce that we can start playing contact sports again, including rugby, netball, football, basketball, and cricket. And there will be no restrictions on the size of outdoor gatherings. Funerals, weddings, birthdays and other events can be held outdoors without restrictions on the number in attendance. Indoor venues can operate at 80% capacity, and everyone at the event must be fully vaccinated. Again, let me remind everyone that mask-wearing is a must in all indoor public spaces and in crowded outdoor spaces.
Stadiums can also open. But spectators must be vaccinated and if sitting in close proximity at organised sporting events must wear masks.
Greetings from us
On behalf of Indian Newslink, we offer our salutations to the people of Fiji and dedicate our services to a great Nation, as we have done since our establishment on November 15, 1999. We wish the country continued prosperity and hope that the slogan, ‘Fiji, the way the world should be’ will be reinstated.