Destination Wrap: Lithuanian volunteers mobilise, Dreamworld closes + MORE

We’ve got a few diamonds in the rough scattered amongst this week’s Destination Wrap, so you can stay well informed and hopeful at the same time.

Solidarity flourishes in Vilnius, Lithuania in midst of global pandemic

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Lithuanian government has imposed quarantine, and people in the capital Vilnius have reacted with solidarity and speed.

In the first week of quarantine, thousands of volunteers offered their help, entrepreneurs have raised large sums for medical equipment using just online messaging, and telecommunications companies provided resources to coordinate the joint effort.

The ongoing efforts of Vilnius municipality to build a tech-savvy and focused community of citizens also proved to be crucial in the face of crisis.

Volunteers from Gedimino Legionas are forming groups and are taking up any tasks that they can, such as taking care of senior citizens by helping them with shopping for food and medicine. Seniors are informed about the need to stay at home through different communication channels: posters, flyers and even drones.

Providing help to overloaded medical staff, volunteers of Gedimino Legionas are raising funds for protective equipment or respirators or volunteering to walk dogs of doctors and nurses. Gedimino Legionas constantly refreshes the information on what needs to be done. The legion has already attracted more than 3000 volunteers and this number grows every day.

When it comes to individual entrepreneurs and businesses, one of the first responders was serial entrepreneur Vladas Lašas, who offered to organise a hackathon Hack the Crisis. Participants of the three-day event will generate innovative solutions for healthcare, emergency response, economy and other spheres of life affected by quarantine.

“I am very proud to see my city showing such unity and solidarity. I think it really shows the spirit of Vilnius,” said Remigijus Šimašius, the mayor of Vilnius.

“We are the city of personalities. But in times of crisis, we come together and support each other. That’s when we show our real force.”

Dreamworld and WhiteWater World closure

As a direct result of the global COVID-19 situation, and the federal government’s most recently announced measures regarding social distancing, including restrictions on non-essential indoor and mass gatherings, the board of Ardent Leisure has made the decision to temporarily cease operating Dreamworld and WhiteWater World, effective from today.

The company has assured the public that it has not been notified of any confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) at its properties. It will continue to monitor and follow advice from government health authorities.

Lord Howe Island announces travel restrictions

The NSW Minister for Health Mr Brad Hazzard has made an Order under the Public Health Act to restrict travel to Lord Howe Island in a move to protect the small community from the spread of COVID-19.

Under the order, access restrictions to and from Lord Howe Island, as well as quarantine requirements will affect all movements from Saturday, 21  March 2020, until further notice.

Situated some 600 kilometres off the NSW coast, Lord Howe Island’s isolated location places it in a unique position in the current pandemic.

Lord Howe Island currently does not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19. The island has limited capacity to provide specialist medical care to patients with severe COVID-19 infections.

South Australian premier’s message

On Sunday, I announced that the government has declared a public health emergency in relation to the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

This is an unprecedented and challenging situation for the tourism, travel and event sector in this state.

I want to assure you that the South Australian Government is committed to working with the sector on practical measures to reduce the impact of the inevitable disruptions that will occur in the coming weeks and months.

South Australian Tourism Commission is working to keep the tourism sector informed about key developments and assist with preparation and adjustments to manage business disruption.

A special meeting of major events and tourism leaders was held on Tuesday 17 March 2020, where the challenges for the sector and responses at a state and national level were discussed. The preservation of our vital tourism assets is critical to enable us to have a swift recovery when that time comes.

Sri Lanka stops all arrivals

Credit: iStock/479625810

The government of Sri Lanka has decided to stop all incoming passengers to the country from all airports, including Bandaranaike International  Airport (BIA). There is no restriction on outgoing passengers at the moment.

The government has also requested the private sector do the same. The measures will not be applicable for essential services, health care, food and transport sectors, and banks. Further extensions will be evaluated depending on the situation.

All national parks, museums and major tourist sites will be also be closed till 29 March.

New Caledonia implements self-quarantine measures

All passengers arriving at La Tontouta International Airport will now be placed in self-quarantine (isolation at home) for 14 days, regardless of whether they’re showing any symptoms of COVID-19 or not. 

Offenders will be liable for a fine of 90,000 XPF if they do not follow this directive. Checks will be put in place in conjunction with the State and the municipalities.

Passengers with symptoms (cough and fever) will be placed in isolation at a medical centre until their screening test is negative. Anyone that has come into contact or that has been in the vicinity of someone that has or may have COVID-19 will be placed in quarantine, at New Caledonia’s International Sport and Expertise Centre (CISE).

Solomon Islands introduces new COVID-19 measures 

The Solomon Islands government has announced new measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective immediately, any foreign national travelling from or transiting through a country identified as ‘restricted’ immediately before or on the day they arrive in the Solomon Islands will be refused entry.

Additionally, all passengers entering the Solomons Islands via air and seaports and other points of entry who have been in or travelled through an ‘affected country’ in the 14 days prior to arrival will be required to complete a ‘health declaration card’.

They will also be subject to ‘risk assessment’ screening on arrival.

Any Solomon Island national who has travelled from or transited through the countries identified as ‘restricted’ at any time during the 14 days immediately before the day on which they arrive will be permitted to enter the country but under strict health criteria which may include an imposed 14-day quarantine.

To date, no cases of the virus have been detected in the Solomon Islands.

Norfolk Island declares state of emergency 


Credit: iStock/TrevorT

The administrator of Norfolk Island has declared a state of emergency due to it being a remote community with vulnerability to coronavirus.

This decision has been made to protect the Norfolk Island community, which currently has no known cases of COVID-19.

A travel ban is in place in relation to passenger arrivals to the island. Only residents and essential staff will be able to travel to Norfolk Island until further notice, and anyone returning to the island will need to self-isolate for 14 days once on the island.

The population on Norfolk Island is, on average, older than the population on the mainland. This, together with the island’s remote location and limited diagnostic and medical capability, makes it more vulnerable to the virus.

Anyone travelling to Norfolk Island from the mainland, whether they have travelled overseas or remained in Australia, is required to self-isolate for the specified 14-day period on their arrival to Norfolk Island.

Medical evacuation flights are exempt from travel restrictions.

Noosa Eat and Drink festival cancelled 

The Tourism Noosa board has decided to cancel the Noosa Eat and Drink Festival for May 2020.

The cancellation comes after the federal government’s announcement of non-essential mass gatherings being banned across the country.


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