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Samoa relaxes state of emergency orders after declaring to be Covid-19 free

Regional News
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APIA (Samoa Global News/Pacnews) — Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has announced an easing of state of emergency orders to include the opening up of transportation, restaurants and the ferry route between Upolu and Savaii.

Samoa’s international borders have been closed for three weeks and all suspected Covid-19 cases with a history of travel have returned negative. The last arrivals into Samoa are 17 sailors who have this week completed their 14-day isolation period aboard the MV Lady Naomi III. This essentially makes Samoa coronavirus free for now and as long its borders remain closed.

The amended orders see ferry services between Upolu and Savaii open three days a week with special conditions that aims to limit the number of passengers.  Buses can operate but must leave town by 5.30pm and limit passengers to 20, to allow for physical distancing.

Opening hours for the all markets and supermarkets have extended from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except Sundays, and the prohibition on people sleeping at marketplaces remains. Sunday evening hot bread returns with shops now able to open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Public gatherings of no more than five people remain, with specific prohibition on church and sports gatherings as well as bars and nightclubs. Schools also remain closed across Samoa.

As an exception to the public gathering rule, restaurants are now able to open with owners asked to ensure customers are two meters or over six feet apart.

Some have commented on social media that restrictions on sports such as golf or tennis could be interpreted as now open, since those activities could quite easily be practiced with less than five persons and two meters of physical distancing between players.

Tuilaepa said in his weekly interview that the decision for a partial opening of Samoa’s movements requires a delicate balance between what is required to protect the health and well-being of the nation, and economic impacts of a stringent lockdown.

The prime minister thanked the people of Samoa and community leaders of churches and village councils for heeding to the proclamations made during Samoa’s necessary state of emergency period, at such unprecedented times.

The dates for the national week of fasting in the amended orders have not been revised, with the new orders still referring to the dates of March 22-29, 2020.

The new amendments mandated by the revised state of emergency orders were signed into law today by the head of state, Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II, in consultation with the cabinet and pursuant to Article 106 of the Constitution.

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