The Marshall Islands government has extended its ban on all incoming travellers for another month because it regards Covid-19 "a national threat".
The latest advisory was issued by Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal this week.
The extension prohibited all inbound travel until 5 June and discouraged Marshall Islands residents from travelling abroad. The Marshall Islands remained one of fewer than 20 nations globally without a confirmed case of Covid-19.
The new travel advisory, the 12th issued by the government since 24 January, extended the travel ban just days before it was scheduled to expire on 5 May.
There is currently no scheduled international passenger air service to the Marshall Islands. The last United Airlines flight linking Majuro and Kwajalein with Hawai'i and Guam was 13-14 April. Local authorities said the next United Island Hopper flight was tentatively scheduled for 20-21 May.
In a new addition to the travel advisory, "We are strongly advising that people who intend to live and work on outer islands return to the outer islands as soon as possible," said Mr Niedenthal. In the event Covid-19 was confirmed in either of the two urban centres, government authorities had plans to cancel air and shipping services to remote atolls and islands to prevent the spread to isolated populations that had no access to hospitals.
The new travel advisory also ratcheted up controls on the region's purse seine fishing fleet that used Majuro for transshipment of tuna catches. It limits the number of purse seiners in Majuro lagoon at any one time to 20 and carrier vessels that collect the tuna from the fishing boats to 10.
Since the mid-2010s, Majuro had developed into the busiest tuna transshipment port in the world. But Covid-19 had hammered the transshipment operation.
After averaging 37 transshipments a month in 2018 and 2019, which accounted for moving over 600,000 tons of tuna to canneries globally, the number of transshipments fell to 11 in March due to Covid-19 restrictions on entry of vessels.
"The Cabinet has now approved fines and penalties for any person or entity that violates any of the provisions of this new Travel Advisory," said Mr Niedenthal.
Fines for breaches of travel advisory requirements ranged from $US500 for an individual, up to a maximum of $US50,000 for a company or organisation.
The penalties for violations of travel advisory requirements, which included the possibility of prosecution and jail time if convicted, were approved by Cabinet according to the country's Emergencies Act.