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Autonomous Bougainville Government declares State of Emergency

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has declared a State of Emergency across Bougainville in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Under the Bougainville Constitution, the Autonomous Bougainville Government has the power and authority to declare its own emergency.

Yesterday, the Bougainville Executive Council met and discussed certain precautionary measures that will be undertaken in Bougainville.  Furthermore, the decisions reached by the BEC are consistent with the announcement made by the National Government earlier this week for a nationwide state of emergency across the nation.

The following measures were announced as precautions in response to the COVID-19 issue:

  • State of Emergency declared as of Monday 23 March 2020 for 21 days according to the Bougainville Constitution;
  • Resolved that all activities prescribed by the Prime Minister under the National State of Emergency are adopted;
  • The 21-day State of Emergency period will further affect the issue of writ for the 2020 ABG general elections hence the writ will NOT be issued on Friday 27 March 2020; therefore the 2020 ABG general elections will be delayed.
  • Imposed a ban on all flights and ships coming into Bougainville for 21 days except for delivery of cargo and medicines, and deployment of volunteers and technical officials who might be required to provide support in emergency response to COVID-19 in Bougainville;
  • All public servants are allowed to take paid leave of absence from work, effective Tuesday 24th March to 14 April 2020. The government through the Office of the Chief Secretary will issue any further instructions after 14 April 2020 on future work arrangements;
  • All Department Heads can authorize employees to continue priority work at home and submit reports of progress through online communication; and 
  • Essential service agencies such as health workers, customs and border security, police, correctional services and any other agencies that receive instructions from the government are to work as and when required.

The State of Emergency in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville will be implemented by the Assistant Police Commissioner of the Bougainville Police Service, Francis Tokura. He will be assisted by the Acting Chief Secretary of the Bougainville Public Service, Thomas Raivet.

All non-essential staff of the Bougainville Public Service and the general public in Bougainville is urged to stay at home and adhere to basic health and hygiene and practice social distancing.

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