Tuilaepa Warns Fiame About Rushing to Dismantle SOE Restrictions

First Cabinet Meeting Friday 30th July 2021.

Press Release, Human Rights Protection Party. 

Samoa’s longest serving Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, has warned new Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa not to rush into dismantling what has been a successful plan to combat and stop the CORONA-19 pandemic from hitting our shores.

Fiame and the new FAST Cabinet on Friday issued new conditions for the current State of Emergency lifting restrictions such as Sunday trading, including swimming in public beaches and waterfalls.

Included in the new SOE orders was a Cabinet Directive to resume negotiations with the government of New Zealand to explore a travel bubble with Samoa.

Arrival of Repatriation flight Faleolo Airport.

Tuilaepa said he is mostly concerned that the new FAST Cabinet is looking at opening up a travel bubble with New Zealand.

“The recent travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia has had to be cancelled because of increased infections and particularly the discovery of the Delta variant which is causing real problems for our neighbours Fiji,” he said.

“We cannot risk our people’s lives for the sake of making a profit for some business people”.

Tuilaepa said there is also no need to rush into opening borders with American Samoa, who now plan to restart commercial flights from covid affected Hawai’I, next month.

Tuilaepa pointed out that in the 17 months since the SOE was put in place, Samoa continues to be free of the pandemic.

He also wondered if the new Cabinet sought the advice of the National Emergency Operations Committee on the decisions it made on Friday.

He said the country is economically sound despite drop in revenues from border closures.

Last week, he announced that the country has more than 11 months in foreign exchange reserves for imports of goods.

“The only problem we have is delays in shipping due to the pandemic restrictions,” he said.