By GYNNIE KERO and SAMUEL BARIASI
SCHOOL holidays have been extended for at least three more weeks but markets and bus services are to reopen as certain state of emergency restrictions are relaxed after the first 14-day lockdown.
Schools and tertiary institutions are expected to resume classes on April 27, according to Prime Minister James Marape.
“We know the first term holiday is due at the end of this week. So we are allowing them to remain at home. Before April 27, we will make a decision on the future of education in the country,” he said.
Education Minister Joseph Yopyyopy said the academic year would be short by four weeks.
“We will revise and advise parents and authorities of new term dates, holidays, examinations and how the four weeks will be recovered,” Yopyyopy said.
National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop said parents should organise a home study timetable for their children.
“We will be asking teachers and the parents to come up with some workable plans in which children staying at home can still do some lessons,” he said.
He suggests that teachers could set homework which parents can give to their children.
“This is so that students can continue to learn while they are at home,” he said.
Parkop said it was important for students to stay at home.
“If the children go to school in the event of an outbreak, they will be the most vulnerable people because they are crowded together,” he said.
“Our schools are overcrowded and it is not easy for us to practise (social) distancing.”
Although Parliament last Thursday approved the extension of the State of Emergency for two months as part of the Government’s Covid-19 response, Controller and Commissioner of Police David Manning said the ban on some services would be lifted. They include:
- Buses to resume tomorrow (April 7) but must adhere to health and safety measures such as the number of passengers taking into account social distancing. For example a 25-seater bus should carry only 15 passengers. Buses are also expected to have regular wash and clean-up;
- Domestic flights are to resume;
- Sale of alcohol are to be restricted to supermarkets, restaurants, and hotels. The liquor ban continues to apply to bottle shops in suburban areas, settlements and villages.
Police checkpoints on the major highways are to remain although they will allow through fuel, food, medical supplies, equipment and essential service employees.
Isolation facilities will be established in all provinces.
There are penalties for any person or company found to have breached emergency regulations.
“The state of emergency is in place to ensure the safety and health of our people,” Manning said.
“(Police officers and soldiers) will continue to patrol and attend to all security and crime issues in the country and along the border.”
He said domestic flight passengers would be required to provide a statement on the purpose of their travel. The restriction on international flights will remain.
Manning said expatriates considered “essential” in efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic would be allowed into the country.
“All international passengers will be required to be in quarantine for 14 days in facilities identified and being developed,” he said.