Seasonal workers to quarantine at home

The labour department says from May, seasonal workers travelling to work in South Australia will do their 14-day quarantine in Vanuatu, not in Australia.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs says workers from northern Vanuatu will be quarantined on Santo; those from central Vanuatu will be quarantined in Port Vila; and those from the south will do quarantine on Tanna.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Internal Affairs, Ismael Kalsakau, says the decision, which is backed by the Australian Government, is part of his Government’s push to decentralise services closer to the people and rural areas.

The Minister says allowing workers to quarantine closer to their home communities will cut the cost of them having to travel to Port Vila to quarantine.

Mr Kalsakau says workers who have quarantined on Santo will fly straight from Pekoa Airport to South Australia.

But he says, workers quarantined on Tanna will be flown to Port Vila with airfares paid by the Government and will then transit from Port Vila to South Australia.

The Government’s decision to quarantine seasonal workers bound for South Australia has raised questions in some quarters about why workers need to go into quarantine when there is no community transmission of COVID in Vanuatu.

One local from Tanna Island, Teny Kio, says with no COVID-19 community transmission in Vanuatu, he does not see a need for quarantine.

However, the Commissioner of Labour, Murielle Metsan Meltenoven, says the quarantining is an Australian Government condition of entry for workers from Vanuatu and Fiji.

Mrs Meltenoven says all workers going to South Australia must undergo 14-days quarantine, either at home prior to arrival or on arrival.

Commissioner Meltenoven says the farmers in Australia will not deduct the workers’ quarantine costs from their salaries.
Port Vila resident, Irine Solomon, says she agrees with the Vanuatu Government’s decision to stage the quarantining in Vanuatu rather than in Australia, because the money spent on the operation will stay in Vanuatu.

Ms Solomon says there are many resorts and hotels that have lost revenue due to COVID-19 and local quarantining of seasonal workers means some local hotels and resorts will earn revenue which can support local people.

“This way it helps our economy,” she said.

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