As of 1 December, the dreamlike island of Fiji is resuming international travel, following nearly two years of closed borders. The Pacific Island shut its borders to foreign nationals on March 2020, in a desperate attempt to preserve the limited medical facilities from reaching exhaustion.
1. Conditions to enter Fiji
The new Omicron variant didn’t stop Fiji’s authorities from considering the reopening of borders. Instead, a strict set of rules is in place for tourists wanting to visit the Pacific Island. In particular, travelers arriving at Fiji must be vaccinated with either the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. All travelers 12 and older must show proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within three days of their departure from a hospital, doctor, or lab.
Additionally, visitors need to book a minimum three-night stay at a Care Fiji Commitment-certified property, take a rapid Covid-19 test 48 hours after their arrival, and have proof of insurance that covers Covid-19. During the first 48 hours, travelers are allowed to explore, but they are asked to use Care Fiji Commitment operators and check in using QR codes.
“I want to thank the Fiji Airways staff, the Fiji Airports employees, our hotel and tourism workers, the drivers, the doctors, nurses, police officers and RFMF personnel and every other Fijian whose combined team effort helped us re-open our border to tourists this week“, said Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama on Facebook.
2. Back on track
“To see the Fiji Airways plane full up and for us to welcome those tourists today was so amazing. It was a great, great feeling and I’m glad to have been there personally”, said James Sowane, director of the Fiji tourism company Tewaka.
With nearly 90% of Fijian adults fully vaccinated, the Pacific Island felt the confidence to reopen its borders to foreign tourists from a small number of countries. “Once you arrive, you can holiday safely and enjoy the best of Fiji knowing that when sticking to Care Fiji Committed businesses, everyone you interact with will be fully vaccinated”, reads the official statement.
Although limited to a number of countries, the resumption of tourism brings significant relief to the island nation’s 1 million people, which accounts for 40% of Fiji’s economy. Since the border closure in March 2020, around 10% of the population lost their jobs.
Rejoicing over the return of tourists, Bainimarama shared warm words for the future travelers: “Today, we are proud and most importantly prepared to welcome the first tourists to fly to Fiji in almost two years. Our message to every fully vaccinated, Covid-tested traveller who arrives to our shores is simple: Welcome Home”.
We have recorded 609 Covid-19 positive patients who died from serious medical conditions they had before they contracted Covid-19; these are not classified as Covid-19 deathsDr James Fong, Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Health
3. Covid-19 in Fiji
According to Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fing, the Island has officially two cases of the new Omicron variant. At stake are fully vaccinated Fijian citizens, returned from Nigeria, whose samples were sent for testing in Australia and returned positive.
Overall, Dr Fong said that since the beginning of the pandemic 52,492 cases were recorded, with 71 percent of the cases from the Central Division, 28 percent of the cases from the Western Division, and 1 percent of the cases from the Eastern and Northern Division of the Fiji Islands.
“We have recorded 609 Covid-19 positive patients who died from serious medical conditions they had before they contracted Covid-19; these are not classified as Covid-19 deaths”, said Dr Fong during his regular update last December 6.