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COVID-19: Gradual lifting of restrictions | 02 May 2020

‘There is no room for complacency’

 

As per President Danny Faure’s address on Monday April 27, certain restrictions currently in place, following the Public Health Emergency, will be gradually lifted from Monday May 4. That is, if the situation stays under control between now and then.

Let us remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is dynamic, so while restrictions are removed in light of the current situation, measures can be reviewed or revised at any moment, in the interest of protecting public health.

In the meantime we will adapt as we move forward.

As mentioned, we are in a new reality. One that requires new ways of doing things, a new way of living, and a new sense of responsibility. This means a change in behaviour by each and every one of us. There is no room for complacency. Key to this therefore is the need to continue observing health guidelines to better protect ourselves and our country from COVID-19.

From Monday May 4:

1. All restrictions on internal movement of people will be removed. Large gatherings however are still discouraged and will be guided by revised regulations and public health orders.

Key to note:

  • Physical distancing needs to be continuously observed
  • Workers can go back to work. Companies and organisations have worked on individual plans detailing how they will deliver services while adhering to health requirements. Key processes need to be in place to guide daily operations. These are summed up as three core principles:

-           Vigilance – Ability to detect people who have COVID-19 symptoms

-           Ability to implement physical distancing

-           Maintaining good level of hygiene at all times - remember to wash hands or use sanitisers.

  • Technical health people and appointed health and safety officers will be on hand to assist with the integration of the principles into work processes
  • Employers and employees can consider working from home options (full or part time)

Public Transport

  • SPTC has developed a plan to manage the flow of passengers from Monday May 4
  • Considering workers will be back at work, bus times will be adjusted and buses will be provided to accommodate workers and other passengers in the best way possible, while adhering to guidelines from the department of health.

The following key services can resume while following guidelines from the department of health:

1. Religious services, including funeral services

2. All shops – which can stay open until 8pm

3. The majority of services and businesses

4. Construction companies can resume work in line with set guidelines

5. Restaurants and food establisments can open provided conditions from the department of health are met and guidelines are respected.

 

A timeline for resumption of services has been developed but can be revised if circumstances change.

In May

Air Seychelles will carry out repatriation flights for our Seychellois patients presently in India and Sri Lanka. These flights will also serve any Seychellois currently stuck in these two countries. Those impacted should get in touch with the Seychelles embassies in the respective countries.

From May 11

All child-minding and day-care services, all post-secondary institutions including A-Levels, The Guy Morel Institute and University of Seychelles, will reopen.

From May 18

All creche, primary and secondary schools will reopen.

For both of the above, the following principles are important:

- Vigilance – Ability to detect people who have COVID-19 symptom

- Ability to implement social distancing

- Maintaining good level of hygiene at all times - hand-washing with soap and water is preferable. Sanitisers is a second option.

As the Public Health orders are still active, anyone who goes against the mentioned guidelines will commit an offense.

From June 1

Travel

1. The airport will reopen for commercial flights in line with guidance and advisory issued by the department of health.

2. Seychellois will be able to travel abroad as per strict guidance, advisory and regulations issued by the department of health.

To note:

- This will be a controlled re-opening

- Travel advisories will be published. This will apply to people leaving the Seychelles and travelling abroad as well as those coming into the country

- Tourism is not expected to pick up immediately so the re-opening targets mostly cargo flights, technical stops, transits and private transfers

- Private jets, being of smaller crew size can access the airport, however they will need to adhere to existing travel advisories from both Seychelles and their country of origin

- Citizens are discouraged to have leisure trips or personal holidays noting that the COVID-19 situation in many countries is still very volatile

- People with medical emergencies can travel under guidance from DOH

- All government officials cannot travel until further notice unless absolutely necessary

- Students currently abroad and wish to travel to the Seychelles will need to follow travel advisories of their host country and that of Seychelles

- As prevention and protection measures there will be control at the airport, entry screening and the use of travel check forms to be completed by incoming passengers

As the Public Health orders are still active, anyone who goes against the set travel restrictions will commit an offence

Immigration

- GOP holders from overseas cannot come back to the country yet

- No new GOPs will be processed.

3. Leisure boats and yachts will be able to enter Seychelles territory, respecting any guidance from the department of health.

4. Sporting activities can resume, following guidance from the department of health.

5. Gyms, cinemas, bars and casinos can reopen, in line with guidance from the department of health.

Preventative measures

- Strict border control: When the borders are re-opened, strict medical surveillance will be in place to detect any new cases and necessary steps will be taken if need be.

- Rigorous contact tracing: Contact tracing will be strengthened and response time shortened to effectively break any chain of COVID-19 transmission

- Enhanced testing: High levels of testing will be conducted and those who test positive will be admitted to the treatment centre. The option to test before someone travels could be a requirement, however since there is no guarantee that if a person tests negative at the point of testing that they are not infected, testing needs to be substantiated with social distancing, good hygiene and vigilance.

Contingency plan

As we move ahead in the new reality, we still need to prepare for the worse. Therefore the department of health is still ordering equipment so as to make sure that we are ready to react in the swiftest and most efficient manner should new cases arise. We have received several donations, which is remarkable but the

health department is also procuring from reputable suppliers abroad. In terms of staff capacity we expect the arrival of two medical officers, 45 nurses, 1 laboratory technologist and two public health officers to help ease pressure on our frontline health workers.

We are also holding on to our quarantine facilities until the end of May, or beyond.

The good news

The public health emergency structure initiated in Seychelles early on when the pandemic hit the world has enabled us to control the COVID-19 situation in the country. We now have it under control and can strongly tackle a potential surge of the virus in our community. This battle means every Seychellois needs to take their responsibility seriously.

 

Contributed by the department of health

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