COVID-19: Fiji tourism operators struggling to see recovery in sight as capital faces strict lockdown

Fiji's capital Suva is in a strict lockdown, with the whole country subject to curfews starting on Saturday.

Authorities are trying to get a deadly COVID-19 outbreak under control, and are urging locals to stick to the rules or face being arrested. 

"Nobody's safe," Kiwi Annemarie de Vos told Newshub.

Her hotel in central Suva is housing 46 frontline workers, who are fighting Fiji's second wave. 

"A lot of them are working 24-hour shifts now," the Vos On The Park owner told Newshub.

Some of them work at the main testing lab, where staff caught the virus this week.

They're among the 48 active COVID-19 cases in Fiji - most of them community transmission. 

The capital Suva and nearby town Nausori went into a full lockdown on Friday, with restrictions in place until at least Wednesday.

The rest of the island has a 6pm curfew starting on Saturday. Other islands have an 11pm curfew.

"This lockdown serves the dual purpose of putting a halt on further spread, there may be a community case we do not know about," Fijian Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Dr James Fong said.

Volunteers on the ground say Fijians are scared so are taking this seriously. 

"A lot more people are paying a lot more attention," Fiji Red Cross Society Director-General Ilisapeci Rokotunidau said.

"Even some of the rural communities have set up their own self-isolation system."

The police presence is heavy, and they're not afraid to arrest anyone breaking the rules. 

The lockdown has halted vaccinations in some main centres but since this outbreak began, more people want a jab. 

"It has encouraged people to go and register for vaccination," Rokotunidau said.

New Zealand is giving Fiji 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, due to arrive in the third quarter of this year. 

That's on top of a $40 million funding support package to help "Fijians facing immediate social and economic hardship due to this outbreak".

"They need it. There's nothing happening. No business," de Vos told Newshub.

A Newshub Nation report revealed a third of Fiji's economy has collapsed without tourism. 

Many locals lost their jobs, forcing them back to family villages. 

Tourism operators are struggling to see a recovery in sight. 

"I don't even think we're in a position to even be looking at tourism at the moment," de Vos said.

They just want to get through the next few days, and hopefully see the end of this outbreak.