Fiji plans to soften restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and re-open its borders to international tourists, thanks to progress made in vaccinating its population, its Government said on Saturday.
Details of the relaxations would be announced on Sunday afternoon, now that 80% of the adult population has received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said.
“80% of adults in Fiji are fully-vaccinated a full three weeks ahead of schedule! I’m grateful to everyone who’s rolled up their sleeves to help make Fiji safe,” Prime Minister Bainimarama said in a message on Twitter on Saturday, one day ahead of the country’s national day.
“At 4p.m. on Fiji Day, I’ll announce the easing of COVID restrictions at home and our plan to re-open Fiji to the world,” he tweeted.
In September, the Fijian Government announced that once the 80% target was attained, the country would re-open its borders to travellers on its “green list”, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Singapore and parts of the United States.
Under a plan announced at the time, visitors would have to be fully vaccinated and show a negative result for a test taken before departure. Once they arrive in Fiji, they would stay in designated areas where all contact would be with fully vaccinated persons, from hospitality staff to tour operators.
According to government statistics, relaunching tourism, which accounts for 40% of the Fijian economy, is seen as essential to stemming poverty in the country of under 1 million inhabitants.
The Pacific Island nation had been free of COVID for a year until the arrival of the Delta variant in April. The number of cases peaked in July, with over 1,200 new infections per day, then decreased.
On Saturday, only 40 cases were registered.