New Caledonia's Northern Province has decided to keep schools closed for another two weeks after the government and the French High Commission announced an easing of the Covid-19 restrictions.
After nearly two weeks without a positive Covid-19 test, freedom of movement will be restored from Monday, allowing schools and most businesses to reopen while respecting social distancing.
The president of the Northern Province Paul Neaoutyine noted that there was no consultation through video-conferencing before the changes were announced.
In a statement he said to maintain cohesion and to protect the population his province had adhered to all the directives.
With the change, he said he would assume the powers given to the province and defer the opening of the schools.
He said from next week modalities would be discussed with the province's mayors to organise transport as well as the reopening of boarding schools.
Mr Neaoutyine said he was surprised to see a significant number of stranded New Caledonian residents would be flown from Paris to Noumea this weekend while the virus kept spreading in France.
He said this happened while there hadn't been a single case of the virus spreading in the community.
All 18 people who had tested positive for the virus had come from abroad, including a member of the pandemic crisis management team.
A woman whose reported infection couldn't be traced to any travel was retested and returned a negative result.