By MIRIAM ZARRIGA
THE New Britain Highway, the North Coast road, sea ports and the Rabaul wharf, all in East New Britain, have been closed to passengers travelling in from West New Britain for 14 days following the surge in the Covid-19 cases in West New Britain.
The closure is from Nov 30 to Dec 13, when travellers from West New Britain (WNB) would not be allowed to enter the province as it looks to keep its Covid-19 cases at three.
In its latest update by the National Control Centre on Tuesday, it listed WNB as the third highest province with 64 Covid-19 cases reported.
Police Commissioner David Manning, who is the Controller of the Covid-19 National Pandemic Response, confirmed that police would be assisting ENB.
“Police will assist East New Britain provincial administration officers to enforce the lockdown,” he said.
WNB provincial health authority chief executive Stanis Tao told The National that the border was closed.
“It’s confirmed, borders are closed between the two provinces,” he said.
According to a letter from ENB administrator Wilson Matava to his counterpart Tao, the ENB administration and the ENB provincial health authority had set strategies aimed at protecting both provinces by restricting travel to only essential movement of people in all routes and ports of entry.
Matava said checkpoints and roadblocks would be set up at either Navo River or Piandi River.
Police units will be patrolling the New Britain Highway from the North Coast section of the border to the South Coast in Uvol, Pomio, to stop travellers and betel nut traders entering the province.
“Additional health officials and police personnel will be deployed to monitor the border and local sea ports used by travellers from WNB,” he said.
“Roadblocks and check points will be set up at the Kerevat Police Station and Open Bay.
“Those who are found to have breached these lockdown measures will be detained, slapped with fines under the National Pandemic Act, 2020, either as spot fines for individuals or for corporate bodies.”
Matava said those travelling in by air would be subjected to random swabbing and testing.
“They must produce a medical check certificate obtained from a recognised health facility in WNB with travel approval from the officers of the provincial administrator and the chief executive of the provincial health authority with a clearly stated reason to travel into ENB,” he said.
“Students trying to return for the holidays will need to be medically checked and cleared by health professionals in WNB.
“Those coming in by sea will need to show their medical certificates and school identification cards at the Tokunar Guest House to be cleared.”
By MIRIAM ZARRIGA