Saturday 22 January 2022, Apia Samoa. Updated. Florists at the Fugalei Market wish they had been given a little more notice of Samoa’s nation-wide lockdown alert level 3 status, to avoid costs of preparing their small businesses for the busiest day of the week.
As retail stores and wholesalers capitalised on the panicked rush to stock up food and household essentials, the cancellation of Sunday services meant one group of small business owners were left with perishable fresh flower arrangements that would just be thrown away according to a mother from Lalovaea.
Etevise Eletise, 58, says she supports the government’s efforts to protect Samoa from covid-19, but was sad to not be able to sell any of her flower arrangements today.
Mrs Eletise went about her usual Saturday morning preparations for the only busy day of the week for her small business on Saturday morning unaware of the lockdown. “I went to my fresh flower supplier and bought my usual order.. Today, I spent $180 tala on all these flowers,” she said. “Its unfortunate that I didn’t know sooner, I would have called her to cancel..”
Etevise says she arrived at the Fugalei market at around 10am, and started to assemble her arrangements. “Most of my clients come between midday and 4pm, so that their flowers are fresh for their teufalesa [church cleaning] duties.. but then we heard the news at around midday, that Samoa was going into lockdown.”
At around 3pm on Saturday afternoon, florists of Fugalei Market were still sitting at their stalls, hoping for a miracle, trying to avoid thinking about the inevitable of what they would have to do.
“There is nothing we can do,” Etevise says, “we just have to throw them away. I wish we could save them for next week..”
“Ou te support i le puipuiga o Samoa mai aafiaga o lenei faamai, ae tau lava lea, ua le maua se seleni o lenei aso.. maimau pe ana mafai ona sefe mo le vaiaso fou”.
Etevise says Saturday is her largest order of fresh flowers, with many buyers coming to take arrangements for church services, now cancelled. “This is the one day that we can earn money for the whole week, especially Sunday for family toanai, and our church tithing and Minister’s alofa,” she said. “Even if there are no services, we still put aside the gift for our Church Minister”.
Another florist, a father from Vaitele and Toamua told Samoa Global News that he, too, supports the safety of Samoa but he was also not sure where to turn to now for his family’s needs over the two days of lockdown. Amuia Afemata, 48, said he is a grower, so he did not have to buy fresh flowers, however, “everyone in our family has to contribute throughout the week, and I have to earn income on Saturday for our weekend meals, especially Sunday toanai,” he said.
“This is my talent, and Saturday is the only day of big sales, so my family is relying on me to bring home money for the weekend, and especially now that we are going into two days of lockdown.” Mr Afemata says he was surprised when his usual customers started to call this morning and cancel their orders.
“O le matou aiga, ua uma lava ona faasoa le tagata ma lona aso e tapena iai mo le faatupeina o mea faaleaiga. O la’u taleni lea o le fai teu, e faamoemoe la ia te a’u le Aso Sa pe a taulia teu i le Aso Toanai nei, peitai ua vili mai tagata masani e cancel mai oka o teu, ua ou leiloa la le mea a fai, leai se tupe, ae o lea o le ā tiai teu ae ua fia fai se matou faatau mo aso nei e lua, ua tele le aafiaga o le matou aiga”.
Samoa elevated its alert level from 1 to 3 after 15 passengers from a Brisbane repatriation flight tested positive with covid-19. The nation-wide lockdown under Alert Level 3 requiring everyone to stay home has been imposed for a 48-hour period from 6pm Saturday 20th to 6pm Monday 22nd January 2022.
Samoa has had no community cases in the two years since the global pandemic rocked the world, claiming close to 5.6 million lives worldwide.
Addressing the nation this morning to announce the lockdown, Samoa Prime Minister Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa said Cabinet has considered and accepted the advice of the National Emergency Operations Centre to elevate Samoa’s Alert Level to Level 3 status, “Red or High Risk”. The Prime Minister acknowledged the impacts of the decision on Samoa, however, the number of cases reaching 15 meant mitigating the risks of a community outbreak had to be given top priority.
“This is a significant number of cases for Samoa, given the vigilance with which we have managed health border security,” said Fiame.
“Cabinet decided to exercise and impose measures that would further enhance the security and protection of everyone from the virus, and to ensure the risk of a likely community transmission is minimised to the extent possible..
“Government is asking for your cooperation and support, and that we continue to work together as a nation. Unity will facilitate meeting our objectives. With God’s guidance and benevolence, we will work our way through this challenging situation we are in”.