A protest planned in Vava’u to force authorities to divert cruise ships coming to their port has been scratched.

Neiafu town officer Vāvā Lapota said they took back their notice yesterday after government announced a diversion order has been put in place to block four cruise ships from docking in Tonga over fears of coronavirus ongoing outbreak.

He told Kaniva News some of those ships had been scheduled to visit Vava’u.

He said the governor met with all district and town officers of Vava’u to discuss the cruise ships upcoming visits and  they all agreed to turn the ships away.

The diversion order came after the kingdom allowed MS Amsterdam to dock in Nuku’alofa on Friday saying it has been cleared by the Ministry of Health.

Asked whether authorities have put any preventive coronavirus measures in place for yachters sailing to the group Lapota said he understood the governor’s office was talking to Nuku’alofa about diverting all yachts to Tongatapu for screening procedures before returning to port in Vava’u.

He said it was normal for yachts to start arriving in Vava’u after next month.

The Maasdam, Silver Whisper, Artania and Carnival Spirit were scheduled to stop in the kingdom on March 9, March 23 and March 31.

“I have reasonable grounds to believe that it is necessary to divert them to a place outside of Tonga,” Health CEO Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola said.

Last month four cruise ships including a yacht – the Astor, Columbus, and Crystal Serenity and a super-yacht Windstirid, were all refused entry in Tonga due to health warnings following the global coronavirus outbreak.

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