With no confirmed case of COVID-19, the Federated States of Micronesia continues to enforce measures to keep the outbreak off its territory.
This includes the complete travel ban that the FSM Government had instituted to protect its citizens.
Richard Clark, the Public Information Officer for the FSM Office of the President, spoke with PNC about these restrictions which had been put in place as part of the government’s public health emergency declaration.
FSM President David Panuelo first issued a public health emergency declaration on January 31. One of the components of the declaration stated that all persons traveling directly or indirectly — either by air or sea transfer — from anywhere in mainland China, since January 6, are banned from entering the Federated States of Micronesia, according to Clark.
Moreover, persons traveling into the Federated States of Micronesia, from countries, states, and territories with confirmed cases of COVID-19 were not allowed to enter the nation unless they stayed in a country, state or territory with no cases of the coronavirus for a period of no less than 14-days immediately prior to entering the FSM.
This changed slightly in March when Hawaii and Guam reported confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to Clark.
So the FSM president issued an updated declaration on March 14, which states that all inbound travelers into FSM will be required to submit to a 14-day quarantine. But the government also considered the recommendations of the governors of the FSM states who are pushing for a strict travel ban in the FSM
“With that said, the President has also been respecting the requests and wishes of all four FSM states —- states of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae…In consultation with the FSM COVID-19 task force and the state COVID-19 task force, President Panuelo and all FSM state governors, it was agreed that the nation does not want to allow any arrivals,” Clark said.
As of late March, all FSM states have enforced strict travel regulations. Yap, Chuuk and Pohnpei are prohibiting aircraft passengers from disembarking in their respective states. Meanwhile, Kosrae has not been receiving air traffic passengers, according to information from the Office of the FSM President.
The complete travel ban has remained in effect for the past several weeks.
In terms of outbound travel, Clark said since the March 14 declaration, FSM citizens are prohibited from leaving the nation to areas with confirmed COVID-19 cases. However, exemptions were given to individuals who are returning to their places of employment, education, or attending to a family emergency.
For non-citizens who are living in the FSM, they are allowed to depart but would not be allowed to return until the restrictions are lifted.
Citizens within FSM’s borders have been supportive of the complete travel ban.
“They have voiced their desires to their municipal governments and their state governments and of course, the national government to ensure that the travel restrictions remain in place until such a time that the COVID-19 pandemic has been effectively contained,” Clark said.