GOV’T WARNS STUDENTS TO ABIDE BY ADVICE OR FIND OWN WAY HOME

The Government is warning students studying in the Philippines to abide by the quarantine rules put in place by the Covid-19 Oversight Committee while being accommodated in hotels in Manila or they will not be allowed to board repatriation flights home.

The Oversight Committee issued this warning in a notice to students on Saturday 18 September following reports that some students are ignoring quarantine rules by attempting to escape hotels to go out for other reasons, while others refuse to go to the allocated hotels. Some buses hired by the government in compliance with the Philippines Social distancing requirements on public transport, to transfer the students to the hotels went back empty as students chose not to go to the pre-arranged and pre-paid hotels.

The Government has spent large sums of money to transport and accommodate the students in hotels from their respective residences in Manila while awaiting their repatriation back home.

Reports reaching the Oversight Committee over the weekend have stated that some students refused to board buses to hotels while others are attempting to escape from hotels for their own interests.

The primary reason students needed to be quarantined together in three batches, one for each flight, is to ensure none of the students come into contact with anyone outside of the group during the quarantine period before the flight.

The rate of community transmission in Manila is extremely high. Just walking around the street increases the risk of being exposed to and catching the Covid-19 virus. It is both mandatory and crucial that all students to remain in each hotel to be quarantined in the hotels from the time they check in until departure – with no exception. They will have their final two tests while being in the hotels.

Any students that break this mandatory rule will be taken as having made their decision to excluded themselves from this government repatriation program and will therefore be removed from the list and left to their own accord to find their own way home. This includes students who harass and abuse hotel staff including for services that even the Philippine government does not condon, such as requesting hotel swimming pools to be opened for them.

The government will not compromise the health of the others in the hotel in the first instance, nor risking the lives of people in Solomon Islands on account of students that are careless and inconsiderate of others and of their country that is sacrificing much to bring them home.

The government commends and thank the many students that have already followed the instructions to keep our country safe by following the basic instructions from the Oversight Committee. We are proud of you as good ambassadors of our country. Please inform the students that are not cooperating to do the same so that they can all come home.

The regulations are critical to ensure the students own safety from the virus and the safety of the country and to ensure the students do not transport the virus with them when returning home.

The notice reminded the students that “It is a requirement that any person wishing to enter Solomon Islands must undergo three tests for COVID-19 within a period of 14 days before entry into Solomon Islands and all three test must be negative.

Any person who fails these testing protocols will NOT board any flight to Solomon Islands.

The tests are necessary to ensure that all Solomon Islands Students are COVID-19 negative before their flight and all Solomon Islands Students who are occupants of these Hotels are required to be quarantined for a period of 14 days prior to boarding the flight out of Philippines.

The students are reminded that the total cost of hotel accommodation including food is borne by the government and they must not abuse this privilege.

The Solomon Islands Government will shortly sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Philippines Red Cross that covers several areas including the conduct of the necessary COVID-19 tests during the Quarantine Period and no students are allowed to exit the Hotel for any reason during the Quarantine Period unless in an Emergency.

The notice further warned that any student that leaves the hotel against these rules will not be allowed back into the hotel, and the Government will no longer be responsible for their accommodation, food and return flight.

Any Student found to be in breach of these directives will be deemed a National Security risk to Solomon Islands and will NOT be allowed to board the flight to Solomon Islands.

The notice also warned that any student who wishes not to be bound by the directives, will be asked to leave the Hotel and the Solomon Islands Government will not be responsible for any other costs incurred by such person upon leaving the Hotels and any such person will have to support themselves and fund their own travel back to Solomon Islands.

The Government warned the students at these Hotels to strictly adhere to these directives and show respect to the Staff of the Hotels and the officials from the Philippines Red Cross.

“The message to our students is simple. You are ambassadors of Solomon Islands. Do your bit to ensure the country that is sacrificing much to bring you home remains COVID-19 free. Follow the rules and you can come home on the government organised flights”.

“Disobey the rules, endanger your fellow students through selfish and inconsiderate actions and you will be removed from the list of those that will board the flights and left on your own to find your own way home”.

“For such students the government cannot and will not be responsible for your actions and their consequences. Your country expects no less than respect and the observance of the instructions provided to all of you for your safety and safe return,” Secretary to the Prime Minister, Dr. Jimmie Rodgers warned.

To the students who are following these simple guides to keep our country safe, help your colleagues that are not following them to do so. It will not be good if by their actions they are responsible for removing themselves from the list of students that will return home on three repatriation flights.

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