Owners of “small shops” issued with $200 tala fines over the weekend seek clarification of the interpretation of the exception in the State of Emergency orders, relating to Sunday closure of businesses.
The COVID-19 State of Emergency Orders allows for “small shops” to open on Sundays:
“For Sunday, the opening hours are from 3.00pm-6.00pm; and… this rule for supermarkets does not affect small shops which may operate normal hours. All businesses must close on Sunday, except: (a) small shops which may operate normal hours;...”
Lama Stowers store at Vailoa received a $200 fine when police found their store open on Sunday morning. The small shop at Vailoa does not have a supermarket set-up. The owners visited the police station this morning to seek clarification of the orders, and humbly request a reconsideration of the fine.
“You can’t walk in and select your own goods at our store. There is a counter inside but I am the shopkeeper and I bring the goods to the customer standing on the other side of the counter”, said Mrs Stowers.
Another store with a similar set-up is Peta Lins at Alafua. Mr Lin told Samoa Global News that he was fined $200 tala two weeks ago. The father of three says he has paid the fine, and has since refrained from opening his small shop on Sundays.
“Ua uma pay lua selau. E le malamalama a’u, poo lea le sa’o o le kulafogo”.
Mr Lin said that the police came by and told him his store was OK under the exception to the SOE rule. However, he said about one hour later, another group of police came by and said the set up of his store does not fall under the exception, and issued the fine.
Tina’s Store at Vaigaga does not open on Sunday morning, but they did receive a $200 tala fine on Saturday night, when the police found their popular BBQ open after midnight.
“E le tatala matou i le taeao o le Aso Sa. Ae o le omai o lea e tatala atu le BBQ i le po o le Aso Toanai, lea sa fine ai loa.”
Assistant Commissioner Papali’i Monalisa Tia’i Keti has been asked for a comment and advice on the interpretation of Samoa’s latest SOE orders, put in place by government to safeguard Samoa from the deadly coronavirus.
SOE Rules Pertaining to Markets and Supermarkets:
(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-6.00pm; 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).