Tokelau declares its borders closed to all countries & territories with COVID-19 cases

21.03.20, Fakaofo, Tokelau – The Ulu o Tokelau, Fofo Filipo Tuisano pursuant to Tokelau Emergency Rule 2003,
and with the agreement of the other five Council Members and Administrator of Tokelau, approved the closure of
Tokelau’s border earlier today. With exception of essential supplies, specialist medical personnel and services, the
declaration will go into effect midnight 21st March 2020 until further notice.

The border decision was one of three major decisions made under the auspices of the National Executive Board for
Disease Control and Emergency Response (NEBDCER) that was established by the General Fono of 10-12 March
2020. The Ulu o Tokelau, who also chairs the NEBDCER approved:
  • For the twenty (20) scholarship students and their dependents stranded in Fiji to seek protection in New Zealand with their families residing there; and 
  • National prayer and fasting week starting on 23 to 29 March 2020.
The meeting also endorsed a revised ‘Travel Restrictions and Entry Requirements’ advisory (attached).

For more information contact: Mr Aukusitino Vitale, General Manager, National | Email: tino.vitale@tokelau.org.nz

Attached: Tokelau Travel Restrictions and Entry Requirements for COVID-19 [Revised 19 March 2020]

The National Executive Board for Disease Control and Emergency Response has met twice since the General Fono
of 10-12 March 2020. 

Its first meeting on 18 March discussed: 1) updates from villages and department on their implementation of the GF
decisions to reshuffle their work plans to respond to COVID 19; 2) hear from the Administrator of Tokelau about the
assistance from New Zealand; 3) to add Australia to the list of Countries Tokelau closes its border to (Tokelau’s
borders are closed to all countries with confirmed COVID 19 cases).  Australia and NZ were left open because of the
efforts to get scholarships students to Samoa and self-isolate for 14 days before travelling to Tokelau; and 4) decided
on a national prayer and fasting week starting on 23 - 29 March.

The second meeting of the Board held today, 21 March 2020, added New Zealand and Fiji to the list of countries
Tokelau closes its border to. And to approve 20 students and their dependents stranded in Fiji to seek protection in
New Zealand with families.


Tokelau is a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand. It is located in the Pacific Ocean north of Samoa and
south of the Equator (9 00 S, 172 00 W). It is only accessible by boat, taking an estimated 28hours to reach the
closest atoll, Fakaofo, a further three hours to Nukunonu, and another six hours to Atafu.

It is made up of the three small atolls named above, separated from each other by high seas. The total land area is
approximately 12 km². The total sea area of the exclusive economic zone is approximately 518,000 km². The height
above sea level is between 3-5 meters, the maximum width is 200 meters. Tokelau is therefore particularly
vulnerable to natural disasters and impacts of climate change such as sea-level rise.

The people of Tokelau are New Zealand citizens. Their relationship hailed by the United Nations as a model for
other territories and administering countries to follow.

The population of 1499 (2016 census) is spread approximately equally among the three atolls (Atafu (541); Fakaofo
(506) and Nukunonu (452). The traditional lifestyle was subsistence but Tokelau has moved to a cash economy. The
only natural resource of any current economic significance is the fishery of the exclusive economic zone.

Tokelau has no main town; each island has its own administrative centre, hospital, school and basic infrastructure.
There are no airstrips or harbours. Access is by ship only, through the Port of Apia, Samoa.

There are approximately 7000 Tokelauans living in New Zealand, and smaller communities live in Australia,
American Samoa, Samoa, Rapa Nui, and Hawaii.