COVID-19 State of Emergency extended to June 11 in Tonga

Nuku’alofa – May 18, 2020: 9am (Nuku’alofa Times): Tonga’s State of Emergency put in place because of the COVID-19 has been extended to June 11.

Prime Minister Hon Dr Pohiva Tuioneto’a confirmed this in a press statement sent to the media on Friday, May 15.

There was no press conference called to make the announcement, as has been the norm.

The statement said “that pursuant to sections 32 and 34(1) of the Emergency Management Act 2007
the Prime Minister has renewed the Declaration of a State of Emergency that was made on 17 April 2020, to be applied over all the land and sea areas of Tonga commencing from Friday 15 May 2020 at  8.00pm until Thursday 11 June 2020 at 8.00pm, unless further renewed in accordance with
the law”.

The Prime Minister has also re-issued National COVID-19 Restrictions Notice (“Notice”)
which will be effective from 8.00pm, Friday, May 15, 2020 to 8.00pm Friday May 29, 2020
and it shall apply to the areas specified in the Renewal of the Declaration of a State of
Emergency dated 15 May 2020.

The following changes have been made to restrictions that we initially put in place:

(a) Mass gatherings can now include 40 people indoors and 80 people outdoors.

(b) The night-time curfew shall apply from 10.00pm to 5.00am daily.

(c) Liquor licensed night clubs, clubs, bars and kava clubs shall open four (4) days a week from
Wednesdays to Saturdays.

(d) Kava gatherings at a private location or residential household is restricted to only four (4)
people. However this does not apply to persons living in the same residential household.

“Tonga has relaxed the restrictions to allow for more activities to take place, bearing in mind the need to always adopt “COVID-19 free” approaches to the way of  life of all Tongans. The Tongan community has moved towards the practice of hygiene and sanitation, and it is important that Tonga maintains this,” the statement said.

At the global level, COVID-19 cases continue to rise with confirmed cases being reported at 4.2 million people and confirmed deaths at 290,000 people. It remains unclear when international trade and travel will resume normal operations given the global situation.
However, countries with confirmed cases are adopting a slow but sure approach in lifting their
restrictions.

Government acknowledges all who have implemented safe hygiene approaches in their place of
business or leisure, in particular the effort of kava clubs in the Kingdom who have showed
their support and have adopted the sanitation and hygiene requirements issued by the Ministry
of Health.

Government also appreciates the hard work done by the Ministry of Health in
leading Tonga through the crisis, the Tonga Police and His Majesty’s Armed Forces, and
all relevant officers in ensuring compliance with the notices.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has received three testing machines which are being placed at the Vaiola Hospital.

Once the hospital testing lab is completed testing can then be conducted locally.

Concerns have been raised by Tongans stuck overseas, who want to return to their families in Tonga but are unable to because of the closed borders.

 

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