Papua New Guineans defy national mask-wearing rules in spite of covid

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Sir John Guide Stadium
Public servants attending the dedication service at the packed Sir John Guise Indoor Complex in Port Moresby on Monday ... facemasks rare. – Image: Kennedy Bani/The National

By Lulu Mark in Port Moresby

In spite of Papua New Guinea’s mandatory mask-wearing requirement under the National Pandemic Act 2020, many public servants attending a dedication service in Port Moresby have failed to wear one.

They were issued masks before entering the Sir John Guise Indoor Complex but took them off once inside.

Pandemic Controller David Manning has again emphasised that the mandatory wearing of masks is one of the 11 measures to stop the spread of the covid-19 which some people were openly defying.

The national covid-19 total is 843.

The rules are:

  • NO person shall be permitted entry to, or otherwise remain within any enclosed space within an establishment, unless the person is wearing a mask or face covering, in a manner which covers their mouth, nose and chin;
  • NO person shall be permitted entry into or otherwise remain on public transport unless the person is wearing a mask or face covering in a manner which covers their mouth, nose and chin;
  • NO person shall be permitted entry into an aircraft anywhere in PNG unless the person is wearing a mask or face covering;
  • NO person shall remove their mask or face covering while on an aircraft in PNG; and,
  • ALL persons working in a designated market, establishment or on a public transport in which they interact in person with customers, clients or work in an enclosed space with other colleagues must wear masks at all times.

Face masks ‘a must’
Manning stressed that business and government departments and agencies must ensure that all employees must wear mask or face coverings.

But at the public service dedication service on Monday, the majority of the people who sat side by side were not wearing masks.

An officer from the Department of Community Development was seen handing out masks to public servants entering the Sir John Guise Stadium.

But once inside, some removed their masks.

Those exempted from the measures include:

  • CHILDREN under 12;
  • PERSONS with underlying medical conditions which inhibit their ability to wear a mask, including persons with physical or mental illness or impairment or disability;
  • PERSONS who are unable to place or remove a facemask or face covering without assistance;
  • PERSONS undergoing dental treatment or medical care to the extent that the procedure requires that no face covering may be worn; and
  • PERSONS participating in sporting activities.

Manning said penalties would be imposed on those who failed to wear masks.

Asia Pacific Report republishes The National articles with permission.

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