Lautoka on lock down

The most stringent local and international travel restrictions in Fiji history takes place from midnight tonight as government locks down Lautoka City in bids to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama ordered a complete lockdown of Lautoka, Fiji’s second largest city and home to the sugar industry this afternoon.

The lockout keeps within a defined “Greater Lautoka Area” those who live in the sugar city and keeps out everyone else including those who work but don’t live there.

The Greater Lautoka Area area is from the King’s Road at Nacilau Junction past Matawalu Village, to the feeder road at Vakabuli Junction, to the Queen’s Road at Natalau Junction.

The measure follows confirmation that a Fiji Airways flight attendant from Lautoka had contracted the virus in the United States of America last weekend. He is in stable condition at the Lautoka Hospital.

“Yes, we’ve introduced historic levels of travel restrictions. Yes, we’ll be practicing social distancing. But that doesn’t mean we’re distancing ourselves from the genuine care and camaraderie that bind us together as a society,” the PM said.

“The first case is identified in Lautoka, and that is where the most stringent local travel restrictions will take effect.”

Along with schools, the government has ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses within the greater Lautoka area until further notice.

Businesses deemed essential during the lockdown are banks, supermarkets and pharmacies as well as:

  • air and rescue services,
  • air traffic control services,
  • civil aviation,
  • telecommunication services,
  • food and sanitary manufacturing plants,
  • electricity services,
  • emergency services,
  • fire services,
  • health and hospital services,
  • lighthouse services,
  • meteorological services,
  • mine pumping,
  • ventilation and winding,
  • sanitary services,
  • supply and distribution of fuel and gas,
  • power,
  • telecommunications,
  • garbage collection,
  • transport services,
  • water and sewage services.

Meanwhile Fijians who work in Lautoka but live elsewhere are not permitted into the defined area and have been directed to report to a branch of their employer closest to the area. This includes those who work for essential services.

Employees of organisations which don’t have a branch near but outside of the defined Lautoka area will be supported in a plan the government will announce in the coming days, the PM said.

“If there is no branch of your company outside of the Greater Lautoka area, please contact your employer and the government will, in the next few days, announce how your absence from work will be treated during this situation.”

“We advise all employers to accommodate the needs of your employees and not make any employees redundant.”

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