By REBECCA KUKU
OVERSEAS travel restrictions are expected to be relaxed from next month, and the borders opened up to boost tourism and the economy in general, says Prime Minister James Marape.
“We will start relaxing some travel restrictions (on) testing, clearance and quarantine, so that we can open up our economy again,” he said.
“The New Normal will also be revisited.”
Marape particularly wants to see more tourists coming to PNG to inject life into the industry which since the March Covid-19 state of emergency lockdown had been badly affected.
Most of the people visiting the country now are for business purposes only.
“(They come) mostly for business purposes and we don’t get too many tourists at this time,” he said.
Marape said the PNG economy had been adversely affected by the pandemic after the Government closed its borders and imposed strict travel restrictions in late March.
“(We) encountered one of the biggest challenges in our history,” he said.
Domestic travel restrictions have already been lifted allowing people to move around more.
Airlines have resumed flights to most airports around the country.
Restrictions on international travel have largely remained, with everyone arriving into Jackson airport required to observe a 14-day quarantine in Port Moresby.
Marape reassured the people that things would get better and encouraged citizens to abide by the new normal requirements.
“Our (Covid-19) statistics are not bad. We have 516 cases (so far) and six deaths. From the 516, 301 cases are in the National Capital District,” he said.
Marape advised the people to have faith in the Government “which is doing everything it can to help the economy recover”.
He thanked front liners including doctors, nurses, police officers and soldiers for their sacrifice and dedication during this period.
Meanwhile, five new cases were reported earlier this week, four of which were from Tabubil in Western where the Ok Tedi mine reopened after a six-week closure due to hike in community transmission in its area of operation.
The National Capital District confirmed a single case, that of a 31-year-old man living at Gerehu.
The 13 provinces which have reported cases so far are: NCD (301), Western (189), Central (7), Morobe (5), East Sepik (3), East New Britain (2), West New Britain (2), Milne Bay (2), and one case each from Southern Highlands, Eastern Highlands, West Sepik, New Ireland and Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
National Pandemic Response Controller David Manning has repeated calls for people to strictly follow the Covid-19 protocols to prevent community transmissions.
By REBECCA KUKU