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Senator requests mandatory face masks for all senators, Senate employees

Senators with their hands raised taking oath
And anyone who enters the Senate chamber

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — As American Samoa prepares for its first repatriation flight, Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono requested to make it mandatory for all senators, Senate employees and anyone else who enters the Senate chamber to wear a face mask — as a protective measure against COVID-19.

Soliai’s verbal request was made yesterday during the session to Senate President Tuaolo Manaia Fruean, as the Department of Health issued a health advisory calling for — among other things — for the public to wear face masks and practice social distancing because the first repatriation flight is scheduled to arrive next Monday afternoon from Honolulu.

Soliai points out that the US President has called for wearing face masks in the midst of increased cases of COVID-19 and fatalities across the country.

And in preparation for the start of repatriation flights, Soliai made his request as a protective measure against the deadly pandemic.

He pointed out that senators are in the age group susceptible to being infected by the virus and “we need to protect ourselves” now that repatriation flights will begin soon and may bring the virus.

Tuaolo referred the matter of looking into obtaining masks to the Senate Hospital/Public Health Committee, chaired by Sen. Satele Galu Satele.

Soliai is among some lawmakers in both the Senate and House who still have concerns over the governor’s decision to start repatriation flights and even more concern after the five passengers who tested positive and have since been taken off the flight manifest.

In a news release last Friday, the governor has “highly encouraged all citizens of American Samoa also to do their due diligence. Educate yourselves on how to prepare yourselves adequately. Get vaccinated, wear a mask, and practice social distancing”. (See Samoa News edition Jan. 25th for details.)

Upon arrival of the repatriation flight on Feb. 1st all passengers will be taken directly to the Tradewinds Hotel, where they will get the first test there for the virus and begin the 14-day quarantine period.

DoH reminds the public that — “Repatriated residents will have NO physical contact with family and friends during the quarantine period.”