Saturday 22 January 2022, Apia Samoa. Retail stores and wholesalers saw a spike in sales today as people rushed to “panic-buy” food and essential items in bulk before Samoa’s 48-hour lockdown.
“They were buying boxes of chicken, sacks of rice, cartons of noodles, toilet paper, and some people even asked for sacks of sugar and flour,” observed one supermarket owner.
“There was also a lot of liquor being purchased – beer and spirits..
“But we had to stop selling wholesale to ensure we could service the needs of more customers, especially with essential food items”.
Samoa elevated from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 3 at 6pm this evening for a period of 48 hours when 15 positive cases of coronavirus were confirmed amongst passengers from a epatriation flight from Brisbane Australia.
Another shop owner at Vaitele observed panic amongst consumers as they emptied out their shelves, insisting on buying in bulk.
“You would think we were going into lockdown for 48 days and not 48 hours,” joked one cash register operator.
“For items like eggs, our customers who would normally buy one dozen eggs in a week, were buying 3 dozen eggs for the two days of lockdown..’
Last minute buying was also observed by shop owners. “Everyone rushed in this morning thinking it was a 2pm lockdown. And the funny thing was… when they announced it was 6pm, we suddenly had a lull for about two hours and sure enough when it got closer to six.. the mad rush again!,’ observed a store owner at Tuanaimato.
“So some customers got quite angry with us because we had run out of onions and potatoes!”.
Another interesting rush was seen at petrol stations throughout the day.
One petrol station worker couldn’t quite understand the rush to fill up cars before lockdown. “Its been really busy all day.. but everyone is rushing to fill up their cars before the lockdown.. when they are not allowed to be on the roads for the next 48 hours,” he laughs.
“People are sooo funny.. filling up their cars.. just to park them at home for two days,” 🤣🤣
“Makuai pisi lava legei aso akoa.. mālie ia o kagaka sē.. faakumu lelei le kaavale ga ave lea e kuku i le fale mo gai aso se lua” 🤣🤣
As highlighted by Samoa’s National Emergency Operations Centre Chairman Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo, Level 3 lockdown requires everyone to remain at home with the exception of authorised essential workers and essential services.
Only authorised vehicles are allowed on the roads during the lockdown period and even then, all passengers inside those vehicles must carry proof of vaccination.
“It’s no different from the requirement to have your driver’s license on your person at all times. Similarly, you are required by SOE orders to carry your vaccination cards with you at all times,’ said Agafili.
All activities such as work, schools, travel, restaurants, bars and churches will be closed.
Agafili reminded the public that hefty fines under Samoa’s existing State of Emergency Orders will apply to the 48-hour nation-wide lockdown period.
“Those who do not abide by the lockdown protocols face fines of up to $2,000 tala,” reminded the NEOC Chair.
During her address to the nation this morning, Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said Cabinet will continue to carefully monitor the situation and make necessary amendments depending on the situation at hand.
“Police will continue to maintain law and order, and the Disaster Advisory Committee and the NEOC will provide updates and relevant information for the general public”, said the Prime Minister.
“Under the current circumstances the measures outlined are not intended to cause panic but to simply encourage caution, vigilance and enhanced awareness of an evolving situation,” said the Prime Minister.
“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..
“Please remember our health care workers in our prayers and thoughts. In particular our health workers who have worked tirelessly over the last two years to ensure we remain a safe and protected society from the reaches of the pandemic”.