A COVID-19 special: ‘Our way to recovery’

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. Picture: SUPPLIED

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said in his press conference recently that from October 4, all workplaces, tertiary institutions, houses of worship, hotels, restaurants, cafés, cinemas, gyms, pools, and tattoo parlours will open at 70 per cent capacity. But he has also made it clear that these places will only be opened to fully vaccinated persons.

Mr Bainimarama said as part of Fiji’s Vaccination Authentication Exercise –– they will roll out a VAX-Check tool that allows for real-time digital verification of vaccine status that venues can use to confirm the vaccine status of their patrons. He said when the doors of these venues open, all other COVID-19 safe measures must be strictly enforced. That means masks must be worn, two metres of physical distance should be maintained where possible, and careFIJI must be installed on everyone’s phones, with Bluetooth switched on.

Mr Bainimarama said they will introduce new regulations that allow for spot checks on venues, businesses and houses of worship. “Those who do not respect these measures risk serious fines or being shut down.

I repeat you will be fined heavily or shut down if you do not follow these regulations,” he warned. Mr Bainimarama urged Fijians to wield these new freedoms responsibly as the journey to the new normal was a marathon. “Our journey to the new normal is a marathon, not a sprint. We have to move forward in step with the science at a careful and responsible pace.

This war is not over and the defence is to continue to test, trace, and isolate COVID-19 positive patients. He said community leaders should continue to keep careful track of who exits and enters their communities. Employers should continue to enforce COVID-19 safe practices for their staff and their customers. And leaders in houses of worship should be sure their devotees are adherent to COVID- 19 safe practices as well. “My fellow Fijians, most of us are doing what needs to be done to end this deadly outbreak, and that has put us on track to hit the 70 per cent and 80 per cent thresholds for the full vaccination of our target population faster than we ever dared to hope,” Mr Bainimarama said.

He said at the 70 per cent threshold, the curfew hours for Viti Levu will move from 10pm to 4am. At the 80 per cent threshold, the curfew will be from 11pm to 4am.

By then we expect that all businesses will fully re-open to fully-vaccinated Fijians, all sports –– including team sports –– can be played again, like rugby, football and netball, and stadiums can re-open.

“Our goal is to free our country –– and our economy –– from the rut of the pandemic,” he said.

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