Cabinet approves further easing of COVID-19 restrictions for entry into the country
CABINET on Thursday approved further easing of restrictions to enter Solomon Islands on incoming travelers, especially, the removal of the 72 hours PCR test prior to entering the country, a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet announced.
Since the re-opening of borders on July 1 and the subsequent expiry of the State of Public Emergency (SOPE) on July 24, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) stepped up its surveillance and database, which, indicated isolated cases of COVID-19.
Cabinet has considered that the trend towards evidence-based approaches to restrictions reflects the evolving nature of the pandemic also help restore confidence in travel while help keeping both visitors and tourism workers safe.
Current evidence shows that current travel restrictions are primarily effective at the early stage of the pandemic and may help to delay a pandemic, however, the effect of travel restrictions decline over time as cases are inevitably imported.
Cabinet also noted that most countries around the world have either lifted or have partial requirements for entry without and have adopted different models of approach such as easing of burden on health facilities.
Cabinet further noted that, in terms of the likelihood of importation of new variants and starting a new wave of outbreak in Solomon Islands is low while vaccination coverage of atleast one dose for those 18 years and above currently stands at 70 percent while for double doses at 53 percent.
In its conclusion, Cabinet maintained that only travelers who are not citizens of Solomon Islands must be fully vaccinated with proof of complete vaccination against COVID-19 requirements are permitted to enter the country while Solomon Islands Nationals who are unvaccinated can enter the country subject to proof of negative PCR test 72 hours prior to entering the country.
Meanwhile, Cabinet has directed the Attorney General’s Chambers to work with the Immigration Division to amend the Immigration Regulation in order to accommodate the changes to the pre-arrival requirements, particularly, the removal of the 72 hours PCR test prior to entering the country requirement for travelers.
Government will soon announce when this exercise will come into effect as soon as the regulation covering this requirement is amended.
It further directed MHMS to step up on its surveillance capacity and capabilities and as appropriate expand and increase its surveillance sites in the provinces from 13 to 20 and to continue delivering and administering its COVID vaccination rollout programme and ensure to increase coverage to 80 percent with at least one dose.