FSM Information Services
21st FSM Congress Extends President Panuelo’s Public Health Emergency Declaration Until May 31st, 2020; Nation-wide Social Distancing Measures to Be Developed & Take Effect Within 30 Days
PALIKIR, Pohnpei—At 12:01pm on April 17th, 2020, the 21st Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) formally adopted Congressional Resolution 21-138. Constructed upon a profound level of collaboration and cooperation between the Legislative and Executive Branches of the FSM National Government, the Resolution strengthens the Nation’s focus in combatting the COVID-19 Pandemic. For most citizens, how this will affect your life in the short-term is that, within 30 days, the Nation will implement FSM-wide social distancing measures; in the medium-term, the travel restrictions have been extended to May 31st, 2020. While this release intends to broadly explore some of the key provisions of the Resolution, citizens interested in reviewing the Resolution itself may find it here: https://gov.fm/files/CR_No__21-138_Further_Amending_the_Presidents_Public_Health_Emergency_Declaration_APRIL_17_2020_RECEIVED_BY_OOP.pdf
In the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the FSM, with the given authority inherent in the Constitution, President Panuelo will take action as appropriate.
The travel restrictions remain in place, with some specific exceptions.
Regarding inbound travel to the FSM on international commercial carriers, persons traveling from COVID-19 affected jurisdictions are still unable to disembark in the FSM; however, rare exceptions “may be granted on a case-by-case basis”, the Resolution says, for “certified health experts, technicians, and workers assigned to assist the FSM with respect to COVID-19,” as well as returning medical referral patients. The FSM COVID-19 Task Force must provide favorable advice, assessment, and recommendation for each individual, in consultation with the State Task Forces.
Regarding outbound travel, all FSM citizens remain “banned from travelling to any country, state, or territory with confirmed cases of COVID-19.” Exceptions may be granted for FSM citizens who are legal residents of an affected area, or for urgent medical treatment, so long as the FSM COVID-19 Task Force, in direct consultation with the relevant State Task Force, provides favorable advice, assessment, and recommendation for that individual. Other citizens, nationals, and residents remain advised against traveling outside of the FSM, as they may not be able to return or may be subject to quarantine procedures upon said return. The next scheduled international flight to/from the FSM isn’t until May 11th.
Regarding internal travel within the FSM States, travel by air or sea between and within the FSM States is permitted, as long as there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19. In other words, an FSM citizen in Chuuk may NOT board an international air carrier to travel to Kosrae—but travel via a domestic air carrier, such as Caroline Islands Air, would be permitted.
The Congressional Resolution supports the President’s stated objective for mandated Nation-wide safety and precautionary measures. Citizens should expect that, within 30 days from today, President Panuelo, in coordination with the FSM States of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, will state “the terms of the social distancing requirements and any other safety precautions that shall be mandated…for the entire Nation.” Within the coming days the President will meet with the Governors to discuss these precautionary requirements and a timeline for mandatory implementation.
The provisions regarding commercial shipping remain unaltered; the Nation’s lifeline remains unaffected, and citizens can expect continued and regular shipments of food, fuel, mail, and other necessary supplies from abroad, though commercial sea vessels are still required to abide by all protocols and precautionary measures set by the FSM National Government, including no human-to-human contact.
The President’s April 3rd decree on fisheries transshipments occurring at sea has been incorporated into the Resolution and is largely identical to its previous form, although the Resolution advises that domestic fishing vessels may call port in the FSM States for repair, maintenance, and provisioning purposes, so long as they remain in the Anchorage area. Further the National Oceanic Marine Resource Authority (NORMA), on a case-by-case basis, and in planning and coordination with the National and State Task Forces, may grant approval for required repairs and maintenance to be completed at a State’s dock, provided that a written plan is submitted at least 72 hours prior to the requested repairs and that the plan includes no human-to-human contact.
“For the interest of our citizens who are not lawyers and have no experience with legal language,” President Panuelo said in a statement, “Congress has stated that they will work with me and my Cabinet, and that the National Government and State Governments collaborate so as to remain unified in our approach and measures to remain vigilant and protective of our citizens and residents. We are doing so in a way that seeks to preserve our Nation’s integrity.”
“The travel restrictions, for most people and in most circumstances, don’t change,” the President continued. “What IS going to impact your life from this Resolution is that I will be calling for a meeting with our Nation’s Governors, my very dear friends the Honorable Henry S. Falan, Governor of Yap, the Honorable Johnson S. Elimo, Governor of Chuuk, the Honorable Reed B. Oliver, Governor of Pohnpei, and the Honorable Carson K. Sigrah, Governor of Kosrae, to discuss how our Nation will move forward, in a unified manner, regarding what social distancing and health precaution measures must be taken. This WILL result in temporary restraints on SOME civil liberties, such as the freedom of movement. The responsibility the Governors and I have is to find a temporary but potentially long-term solution that is respectful of your human rights as an individual while also being respectful of the reality that the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads when people come into contact with each other. While these limitations will be inconvenient, they will be necessary until such time that the COVID-19 Pandemic has been effectively contained.”
“I would like to say again how deeply proud I am to serve you all, as your public servant, in close collaboration and coordination with our Congress and State Governments. After our productive meeting with the Congressional Committee to Wait on the President on Monday, many Members of Congress—including the Honorable Esmond B. Moses, Vice Speaker, and the Honorable Ferny S. Perman, Chair of the Congressional Committee on Health & Social Affairs—met and worked together with my Cabinet and senior staff. This Congressional Resolution 21-138 is a reflection of our Nation’s unity and Government’s continued commitment to serve you, our fellow citizens.”