Samoa Relaxes State of Emergency Orders after Declaring to be COVID-19 Free

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Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi has announced an easing of State of Emergency Orders to include the opening up of transportation, restaurants and the ferry route between Upolu and Savaii.

Samoa’s international borders have been closed for three weeks and all suspected COVID-19 cases with a history of travel have returned negative. The last arrivals into Samoa are 17 sailors who have this week completed their 14-day isolation period aboard the MV Lady Naomi III. This essentially makes Samoa coronavirus free for now and as long its borders remain closed.

The amended orders sees ferry services between Upolu and Savaii open three days a week with special conditions that aims to limit the number of passengers.

Buses can operate but must leave town by 5.30pm and limit passengers to 20, to allow for physical distancing.

File photo: People lining up at Mulifanua wharf for passenger tickets.

Opening hours for the all Markets and Supermarkets have extended from 6am to 6pm daily except Sundays, and the prohibition on people sleeping at marketplaces remains. Sunday evening hot bread returns with shops now able to open from 3pm to 6pm on Sundays.

Public gatherings of no more than 5 people remains, with specific prohibition on church and sports gatherings as well as bars and nightclubs. Schools also remain closed across Samoa.

Still no publuc gatherings of 5 or more so churches remain closed.

As an exeption to the public gathering rule, restaurants are now able to open with owners asked to ensure customers are 2 metres apart.

Some have commented on social media that restrictions on sports such as golf or tennis could be interpreted as now open, since those activities could quite easily be practiced with less than 5 persons and 2-metres of physical distancing between players.

Tuilaepa said in his weekly interview that the decision for a partial opening of Samoa’s movements requires a delicate balance between what is required to protect the health and well being of the nation, and economic impacts of a stringent lockdown.

“It is a matter of maintaining a balance” – says PM Tuilaepa.

The Prime Minister thanked the people of Samoa and community leaders of churches and village councils for heeding to the proclamations made during Samoa’s necessary State of Emergency period, at such unprecedented times.

The dates for the national week of fasting in the amended orders have not been revised, with the new orders still referring to the dates of 22 – 29 March 2020.

The Amended Orders as Issued by Government Press Secretariat Reads As Follows:

Inter-island ferry services between Upolu and Savaii will reopen as of Wednesday 15th April but with conditions and restrictions on the number of passenger per sailing.
Senior Citizens considered vulnerable and high risk to contract COVID 19 are also discouraged from travelling between the two islands.
The new amendment states that;

Ferries
Services are opened to the public on the following conditions:
(a) All persons 60 years and above are strongly advised to adhere with the restrictions under Order 8 (travel restricted to only if seeking medical attention).
(b) A Pensioner who chooses to travel for any reason outside of those under Order 8 will not be able to use the Pension benefit of free travel.
(c) Ferry services between Upolu and Savaii are restricted to the following terms:
(i) There shall be no ferry services on Sunday.
(ii) Ferry services are on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, operating the normal schedules.
(iii) Ferries are to operate on the following capacities per trip:
A. Lady Samoa III – 100 passengers (excluding vehicle drivers)
B. Lady Naomi – 60 passengers (excluding vehicle drivers)
C. MV SSC 40 – 20 passengers (excluding vehicle drivers)
D. Fotu o Samoa – 20 passengers (excluding vehicle drivers)
(iv) The shipping authorities are to monitor and enforce the 2 meters social distancing rule during travel.

Ferry services open today with restrictions to avoid overcrowding. 

Buses will also return to the roads Wednesday 15th April 2020 but restrictions are also imposed on the number of passengers as stated by the new order;
Public transport:
Buses and Vehicles
(1) Buses are in operation on the following conditions:
(a) Only 20 passengers on the bus are allowed at any one time.
(b) The last bus trip from town must take off from town before or by 5.30pm.
(c) No bus service is to operate on Sunday.
(d) Bus operators are to continue the monitoring and enforcement of the 2 meters social distancing rule.
(2) Operators of public transport that carry 5 people or less are permitted to continue operation.

Opening hours for Markets and supermarkets have also been amended and the new orders are as follows;
1. Markets and supermarkets:
(1) The Savalalo, Fugalei, Salelologa, Vaitele, Taufusi and Afega market, and all other flea markets, fish market or any market which the public have access to:
(a) are only permitted to open from 6.00am – 6.00pm; and
(b) no person is to sleep overnight at any marketplace.
(2) Daily opening hours for all supermarkets are from 6.00am-6.00pm, except for Sunday where supermarket opening hours are from 3.00pm-6.00pm.
(3) All markets are closed on Sunday, inclusive of:
(a) The markets at Savalalo, Fugalei, Salelologa, Vaitele, Taufusi; and
(b) The Fish Markets at Savalalo, Vaigaga, Fasitoo Uta, Afega, and any other roadside fish selling; and
(c) Any such market where the public has access to.

6am to 6pm for Markets.

The new amendments mandated by the revised State of Emergency Orders was signed into law today by His Highness the Head of State, Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II in consultation with Cabinet and pursuant to Article 106 of the Constitution.
Details of the amended Orders are in effect today 14th April 2020 and it is reprinted in it’s entirety;

2. National fasting and prayer:
A national period of fasting and prayer is to be observed by every family in Samoa from Sunday 22 March 2020 until Sunday 29 March 2020 from 6.00am – 12.00pm daily.

3. International travel, planes and ships:
(1) Except in exceptional circumstances with Cabinet approval, starting from 12am of Thursday morning, 26 March 2020, all international travel to and from Samoa by plane are ceased.
(2) All boats and ships are prohibited access except:
(a) trade and petroleum; and
(b) fishing boats for offloading and refueling in a period approved by Cabinet, until further notice; and
(c) any others as decided by Cabinet for urgency and necessity.
(3) The Ministry of Health is required to continue with the approved medical clearance of all involved.

4. Public gatherings:
(1) There shall be no public gathering of more than 5 people at any public place.
(2) There shall be no public gatherings of any sort which include but are not limited to:
(a) Church gatherings;
(b) Sports events;
(c) Entertainment gatherings.
(3) All nightclubs, bars, theatres, bars attached to restaurants or hotels, or any other public place people accustom for social gatherings are to be closed.
(4) All people are prohibited from gathering at airports or wharves unless it is for permitted travel.
(5) Restaurants are opened for dining on the following conditions:
(a) opening hours from 6.00am to 9.30pm; and
(b) to provide customers with food to take away for consumption away from a public place (at home); and
(c) the restaurant owners to monitor and enforce the 2 meters social distancing rule.

5. Public transport:
Buses and Vehicles
(1) Buses are in operation on the following conditions:
(a) Only 20 passengers on the bus are allowed at any one time.
(b) The last bus trip from town must take off from town before or by 5.30pm.
(c) No bus service is to operate on Sunday.
(d) Bus operators are to continue the monitoring and enforcement of the 2 meters social distancing rule.
(2) Operators of public transport that carry 5 people or less are permitted to continue operation.
Ferries
(3) Services are opened to the public on the following conditions:
(d) All persons 60 years and above are strongly advised to adhere with the restrictions under Order 8 (travel restricted to only if seeking medical attention).
(e) A Pensioner who chooses to travel for any reason outside of those under Order 8 will not be able to use the Pension benefit of free travel.
(f) Ferry services between Upolu and Savaii are restricted to the following terms:
(v) There shall be no ferry services on Sunday.
(vi) Ferry services are on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, operating the normal schedules.
(vii) Ferries are to operate on the following capacities per trip:
A. Lady Samoa III – 100 passengers (excluding vehicle drivers)
B. Lady Naomi – 60 passengers (excluding vehicle drivers)
C. MV SSC 40 – 20 passengers (excluding vehicle drivers)
D. Fotu o Samoa – 20 passengers (excluding vehicle drivers)
(viii) The shipping authorities are to monitor and enforce the 2 meters social distancing rule during travel.

6. Markets and supermarkets:
(4) The Savalalo, Fugalei, Salelologa, Vaitele, Taufusi and Afega market, and all other flea markets, fish market or any market which the public have access to:
(a) are only permitted to open from 6.00am – 6.00pm; and
(b) no person is to sleep overnight at any marketplace.
(5) Daily opening hours for all supermarkets are from 6.00am-6.00pm, except for Sunday where supermarket opening hours are from 3.00pm-6.00pm.
(6) All markets are closed on Sunday, inclusive of:
(d) The markets at Savalalo, Fugalei, Salelologa, Vaitele, Taufusi; and
(e) The Fish Markets at Savalalo, Vaigaga, Fasitoo Uta, Afega, and any other roadside fish selling; and
(f) Any such market where the public has access to.

7. Street vendors
(1) There shall be no selling of any goods beside roads, street, culverts or footpaths in the town areas of Apia, Vaitele and Salelologa.
(2) Children selling goods in public is strictly prohibited.

8. Schools:
(1) All schools are to close until further notice.

9. Access to Health Facilities:
(1) All persons of the age of 60 and above are encouraged to remain at home and not move out and about in public, unless he or she is seeking medical attention at any health facility.
(2) All persons are prohibited from accessing any health facility unless he or she is seeking medical attention at any health facility.
(3) A person that is admitted to the hospital may:
i) only have one carer to tend to him or her; and
ii) only be visited by 2 people at any one time.
(4) All patient care intended for travel overseas under the Samoa Medical Treatment Scheme are hereby suspended until further notice.

10. Restriction for Government services:
(1) The Public Service Commission (“Commission”) is to determine conditions in which employees are to continue working under, with the objective of ensuring minimal spread of infection.
(2) The Commission’s conditions shall apply to all Government Ministries and Public Bodies.
(3) All Government trips overseas are hereby suspended until further notice.

11. Ministry of Health duties:
The Ministry of Health shall ensure to implement awareness programmes for the prevention of the spread the Covid-19.

12. Samoa Police Service:
The Samoa Police Service shall implement this Order.

13. Special Powers of Government Chief Executive Officers:
(1) All Chief Executive Officers of Government Ministries and Public Bodies are empowered to exercise their statutory functions, duties and powers provided under any legislation, or administrative functions for the implementation of the Sector Preparedness and Response Matrix Consolidated for Corona Virus Pandemic (“Response Matrix”).
(2) Cabinet is empowered to make Regulations, Rules or Orders for the implementation of the public sector duties and responsibilities, for maintaining safety, for the best interests of and the welfare of the country.

14. Emergency Order Offence Notice:
(1) A police officer may serve an Emergency Order Offence Notice on a person who has committed an offence to which this Emergency applies.
(2) A Notice under this Order shall be in the form approved by the Commissioner of Police.
(3) A person who has been served with a Notice may elect to pay the fine stated in the Notice within 24 hours of the issuance of the Notice.
15. Penalties
(1) A person commits an offence where the person does not comply with any of the above orders, attracting the following penalties:
(a) a fine of:
(i) for an individual, a fine of $200 for a first offence, and a fine of $500 for a continuous offence; or
(ii) for an organization or corporation or similar such legal entity, a fine of $5,000 for a first offence, a fine of $7,000 for a continuous offence; or
(b) detainment by the Police not exceeding 3 months; or
(c) both detainment and fines prescribed under paragraph (a).
(2) The payment of a fine under this Order, shall avoid any further prosecution for the offence stipulated in the Notice issued under Order 13.
(3) Where a person is convicted of an offence under these Orders, he or she shall be liable to a fine not exceeding $10,000.00 or imprisonment not exceeding 12 months, or both.

16. Advisory Board – Article 108:
The Advisory Board appointed under Article 108 of the Constitution, shall not incur any liability for actions done in good faith under Article 108.

17. Flexibility of procedures:
(1) Given the pandemic Covid19, procedures of Cabinet and Parliament, may be relaxed during the State of Emergency, so that decision making for the good of the country may continue.
(2) For effective decision making for the country, the above Orders do not bar any urgent and essential meetings of Cabinet and Parliament to take place during the State of Emergency.

18. Financing:
The financing of the implementation of this Order shall be funded by the appropriate budget approved by the Government.
The Emergency Order 7 issued on 9 April 2020 is revoked.
This Order commences on 15th April 2020.

 

 


Maina Vai