By Philip Cass
Tonga will go into lockdown at 1am on Sunday morning, March 29.
There will also be a night time curfew from 8pm to 6am.
Prime Minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa said the lockdown was being ordered as a response to the World Health Organisation declaration that the Covid-19 coronavirus was a global pandemic and was accelerating.
Everybody is expected to stay home except when buying or supplying essential consumer goods for their families; obtaining medical supplies or seeking medical assistance; going to the bank or going to work for an essential service provider.
All public transport will stop, except where exempted.
All liquor licensed bars, restaurants, night clubs, retail bottle shops and liquor manufacturers must stop trading.
All licensed businesses and business activities shall be closed except supermarkets and retail shops selling essential needs and other exempted places.
All public facilities, events and gatherings such as education institutions, religious, kava clubs, bingo, sports clubs, gyms, sporting events and activities, celebrations of birthdays, marriages and other recreational or related gatherings shall be prohibited.
Funerals will be restricted to 10 people indoors and 20 people outdoors, with an authorised officer to be present throughout.
Most levels of government have been recognised as essential services.
Businesses that can stay open include any entity or person involved in the supply, delivery, distribution and sale of food, beverage and other key consumer goods essential for maintaining the wellbeing of people.
This does not include restaurants, cafes or takeaway shops.
The National Reserve Bank of Tonga, banks, insurers, retirement and pension funds and other financial institutions, including any entity that contracts or provides services to them, may stay open.
Pharmacies and private health and dental clinics can remain open.
The list of exemptions also includes private security guards, telecom providers, as well as international development programmes.
The government has also granted an exemption to building and construction related to essential services and critical infrastructure and required to maintain human health and safety at home or work.
Courts and tribunals have also been exempted.
As Kaniva News reported yesterday, Tonga has already sealed its borders, banning international flights and cruise ships.
Philip Cass is an editorial adviser for Kaniva Tonga.