The world as we know it seems to have changed irreparably but we are hopeful that in the not too distant future international borders will open and once again we will be able to welcome visitors back to the sunny Yasawa Islands.
Thankfully Fiji has been spared from the worst of the Coronavirus, with only 18 cases recorded and 14 recoveries to date – with just four cases still active. There have been no cases in the Yasawas. However, the lockdowns and closure of borders have had a disastrous economic effect as so many people depend on tourism for a living. Then, right in the middle of the Corona crisis, Cyclone Harald swept through the Pacific. We didn’t have a direct hit, but the strong wind and rain destroyed many crops which has made things even tougher for local villagers.
Island people are resilient and despite the crises the bula spirit remains strong. We hear and see so many acts of kindness as communities pull together to help each other but of course the quicker the islands can reopen for foreign visitors, the quicker people can get back to work and support their families.
In a very positive turn of events this week, the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand are in talks to put a Trans Tasman travel bubble in place that will allow travel between the two countries in the next few months, and there are hopeful signs that Fiji and other Pacific Islands may also be included which will be great news for us all – so watch this space.
What is happening in Fiji now with the Coronavirus and will it be safe to visit soon?
Well, to give you a brief outline, the Fiji government was very quick to react and to protect the health of its citizens by banning foreign nationals from high risk countries as early as February. By March all cruise ships were blocked from entering Fiji. The same month Fiji recorded its first case, when a flight attendant who had recently been to the United States and New Zealand tested positive for Coronavirus. The government moved swiftly to lock down Lautoka – closing schools and non essential businesses. International flights were suspended and Fiji’s borders closed. Two weeks later Suva was locked down. The good news is that there have been no recorded deaths from the virus and no community transmission – with all cases linked to those returning from overseas travel or who had come in contact with an infected person.
At present, a nationwide curfew is still in place from 10pm to 5am, social gatherings are limited to 20 people or less and social distancing is still very much in force. Anyone returning to Fiji from overseas must complete 14 days mandatory quarantine.
Overall the outlook is very hopeful here in Fiji, and Prime Minister Voreque Bainimerama has announced that he is expected to declare Fiji COVID-19 free from the community on 15 May. Fiji Airways is resuming some domestic services to kickstart domestic travel, but for the time being international flights remain suspended until 30 June. However, Mr. Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO has confirmed that “We remain flexible and will be ready to launch services as soon as practical.”
Here at Navutu Stars we are all doing well and can’t wait to see you all again soon. We are still closed but have a small team keeping the resort and our gorgeous beaches clean and tidy and we will continue to take measures to protect our staff and guests once we reopen, including adhering to strict hygiene standards. As for social distancing, well as we are limited to a maximum of 2o guests at any one time and our big private bures are surrounded by deserted white sandy beaches and the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean, so you could say we have always practised social distancing.
On behalf of all the Navutu family, soto tale, stay safe and see you soon.