Samoa Opens Up Local Economy but Keeps International Borders Closed under New Orders



Samoa’s Prime Minister says the world is not yet past the worst of the gobal coronavirus pandemic, and although COVID-19 free, Samoa is not taking any chances.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi referred to the dire situation of the USA as well as Russia’s recent spike in cases and deaths.

Tuilaepa confirms that Samoa’s international  borders will remain closed and while the local economy opens up, all are encouraged to uphold social distancing measures and act responsibly at all times.

The Prime Minister spoke to introduce updated state of emergency orders issued last night that confirms the continuation of Samoa closing its borders to international travel with few exceptions to be closely monitored that will allow for citizens stranded in New Zealand to return home.

With the maximum 5 persons in public gatherings rule removed, locals are encouraged to spend at hotels to provide stimulus for the hard hit tourism industry with the new rules allowing hotel bars and services to open for business as usual under normal liquor licence conditions:

Monday to Friday – 6.00am until 1.00am
Saturday – 6.00am to 12.00am
Sunday – 10.00am to 10.00pm.

For Sundays hotels can open to their in-house guests within the permitted hours.

The Government has not yet relaxed the rules around Sunday trading which continues to impact fishermen and farmers who serviced the early morning rush to prepare family toanai. A tradition of Sunday morning market sales from the break of dawn to around 8am which began because all families did not own a refrigerator for storage.

Schools started up peacefully in its first week with staggered classes and gym enthusiasts took advantage of non contact sports and sports gyms re-opening.

GOVT. PRESS SECRETARIAT; The State of Emergency Order has amended today and signed into law this evening by the Head of State, le Ao Mamalu ole Malo Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II.
In consultation with Cabinet under FK (20) Special 22, and pursuant to Article 106 of the Constitution, the Head of State issued the following orders (with amendments included).

The amended orders are printed below in it’s entirely;

1. 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.

2. International travel, planes and ships:
(1) Except in exceptional circumstances approved by Cabinet, all international travel to and from Samoa by plane are ceased.
(2) The following are important under this Order:
(a) For any passengers intending to travel to Samoa, the following considerations and categories of travelers are relevant:
(i) returning residents and students with returning tickets;
(ii) where travel permits have expired;
(iii) the need for essential services for Samoa; and
(iv) any other special and relevant ground for travel to Samoa.
(b) The following mandatory terms for each passenger apply:
i. a COVID 19 test has been done within three (3) days before departure for Samoa; and
(ii) confirmation of completion of the 14 day quarantine period, before departure for Samoa; and
(iii) to be quarantined on arrival in Samoa for 14 days.

(3) All boats and ships or yachts are prohibited access except:
(a) for trade and petroleum; and
(b) fishing boats approved for offloading, refueling and the restock of necessary supplies only;
(c) any other category of ships, boats and yachts for offloading, refueling and the restock of necessary supplies only.
(4) For fishing boats under (3)(b) the following apply:
(a) a maximum of 2 boats may dock in a day; and
(b) medical and quarantine requirements are to be complied with;
(c) no crew member is to leave the boat;
(d) boat schedules must be submitted to the Samoa Ports Authority (SPA); Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF); Ministry of Police and Prisons Services (MOPPS) and the Ministry of Health (MOH); and
(e) the date of departure from the last port, or the exchange of any crew members whilst at sea, must not be less than 28 days, before arrival at Apia wharf; and
(f) notification of arrival date must be received by the relevant authorities (MAF and SPA) 5 days prior; and
(g) there shall be no exchange of crew members whilst as sea.
(5) The Ministry of Health is to continue with the approved medical clearance of all involved.

3. Public gatherings:
(1) For Church, the following applies:
(a) there shall be one church service on Sabbath day (e.g. on Sunday for EFKS, on Saturday for SDA); and
(b) social distancing of 2 meters is to be observed; and
(c) there shall be no crowds around church buildings before and after the church service, or for any other after church activities; and
(d) the church Minister (faifeau) is to ensure the 2 meter social distancing in the church is adhered to.
(2) The restricted number of no more than 5 people apply to the following:

(a) funerals, traditional title bestowals, birthdays, weddings; reunions; and
(b) opening ceremonies for buildings (umusaga).
(3) All gaming is prohibited except for the following:
(a) Bingo on the following conditions:
i. to be held on Saturdays only;
ii. to be closed at 5.00pm;
iii. in observance of social distancing; and
(b) Casinos may open every day except on Sundays.
i. in observance of social distancing

(4) All sports are now permitted except rugby, soccer, boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo).
(5) Swimming at beaches and rivers is permitted, except on Sunday.
(6) All nightclubs, bars, theatres, or any other public place where people are accustomed for social gatherings, are to be closed.
(7) Hotel bars may open at normal hours.
(8) Restaurants are opened:
(a) for dining in and take away from 6.00am to 10.00 pm; and
(b) during dining, the restaurant owners are to monitor and enforce the 2 meters social distancing rule.
(9) All people are prohibited from gathering at airports or wharves unless it is for permitted travel.

4. Public transport:
Buses and Vehicles
(1) For bus transport:
(a) buses may continue normal operation; and
(b) no bus service is to operate on Sunday.
(2) Operators of public transport that carry 5 people or less are permitted to continue operation.

(3) Ferry services between Upolu and Savaii are on the following terms:
(a) there shall be no ferry services on Sunday; and

(b) ferry services are on Monday to Saturday, operating the normal schedules; and
(c) the shipping authorities are to monitor and enforce the 2 meters social distancing rule during travel.
(4) 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).
(5) 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.

5. Markets, small shops, supermarkets, and businesses:
(1) For markets:
(a) the markets at Savalalo, Fugalei, Salelologa, Vaitele, Taufusi and Afega, and all other flea markets, fish market or any market which the public have access to:
(i) are permitted to open from Monday to Saturday, from 6.00am – 6.00pm; and
(ii) no person is to sleep overnight at any marketplace; and
(b) all markets are closed on Sunday, inclusive of:
(i) the markets at Savalalo, Fugalei, Salelologa, Vaitele, Taufusi, Afega; and
(ii) the Fish Markets at Savalalo, Vaigaga, Fasitoo Uta, Afega, and any other roadside fish selling; and
(iii) any such market where the public has access to.
(2) For supermarkets:
(a) from Monday – Saturday, the opening hours are from 6.00am-6.00pm; and
(b) for Sunday, the opening hours are from 3.00pm-7.00pm; and
(c) this rule for supermarkets does not affect small shops which may operate normal hours.
(3) All businesses must close on Sunday, except:
(a) small shops which may operate normal hours; and

(b) the supermarkets in the restricted opening hours as stated above in (2)(b).
(4) For the purposes of this Order:
(a) “supermarket” is a shop where a person walks in through doors to purchase any groceries, and any other item; and
(b) “small shop” means a small shop with no walk in doors, and where purchase is made through the window opening/s.

6. Street vendors:
(1) There shall be no selling of any goods beside roads, street, culverts, street islands or footpaths in the town areas of Apia, beginning from Mulinuu to Fugalei, Taufusi, Motootua, Matautu Tai and Savalalo.
(2) Children selling goods in public is strictly prohibited.

7. Schools:
(1) Schools open on Monday 4 May 2020, until further notice.
(2) The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture:
(a) is to design and determine appropriate programs and schedules i.e. which classes to attend school on which days of the week, what programs to undertake under the modes of teaching available to MESC at the time, for all schools (church, government, private) and so on; and
(b) is to, as much as possible administer the 2 meter social distancing rules. The schedules and programs under (a) are targetted to assist the Ministry’s attempts to maintain this rule.
(3) Where possible, parents and guardians are encouraged to use private vehicles for the drop off and pick up of children, to discourage crowdedness at schools, bus stops and other public places.
(4) There shall be no crowding in public places such as bus stops and markets by students.

8. 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.

9. 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.

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

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

12. 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

(3) maintaining safety, for the best interests of and the welfare of the country.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. Financing:
The financing of the implementation of this Order shall be funded by the appropriate budget approved by the Government.

The Emergency Order 10 issued on 1 and 2 May 2020 are revoked.

This Order commences on 9th May 2020.

Dated this 8th day of May 2020.

(Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II)