Under Amended Declaration schools to open, businesses allowed 100% capacity
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has officially extended for another 30-days his coronavirus emergency declaration, through the Sixth Amended Declaration, effective July 1. American Samoa — without a confirmed case — continues under the “Code Blue” threat-level.
The amended document, released Tuesday night by the Governor’s Office, noted the increasing number of cases and deaths in the US, including Hawaii, “being the only gateway” to the territory, “further increasing our vulnerability.”
As of 12 noon June 30th, Hawaii Health Department reported 18 new COVID-19 cases bringing the state’s total to 917 with 18 deaths, according to states public online records.
The extended declaration notes that it’s projected that “COVID-19 infection can come in waves which means more deaths will be anticipated if restrictions are prematurely lifted with consequences far more devastating.”
Furthermore, there have been recent confirmed reports on the second wave of infection for some of the US states consequential to easing of restrictions.
According to the governor, “we still have not gained the comprehensive ability to effectively combat the COVID-19 pandemic given the limited number of test kits at our disposal to test first responders, symptomatic individuals, vulnerable population and asymptomatic carriers of the disease which perpetuates our vulnerability to an outbreak.”
The amended declaration noted that American Samoa has no confirmed cases, but “you are strongly urged and encouraged to use face masks when in public; thoroughly wash hands with soap for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer of more than 70% alcohol. “
All Hawaiian Airlines flights remain suspended for an additional 30-days with reconsideration slated for Aug. 1st.
For the inter-Samoa route, all flights remain suspended, however, this restriction will continually be reviewed depending on the COVID-19 status in both countries. “If emergency needs arise which will require special flights to American Samoa, this option will be considered,” it says.
(Samoa News notes that flights are currently operating to repatriate local residents stranded in Samoa, with the last date of this operation, set for July 3rd, but can be extended until all residents are returned.)
For travelers entering the territory, they must provide negative COVID-19 test results obtained within 72 hours before arrival. All non-medical personnel entering the territory are subject to a full 14-day quarantine.
Furthermore, all returning medical referral patients will be subject to screening and quarantine at the direction of Health Department (DoH) physicians, but guided by clear established criteria to determine who is to be full-quarantined and when the person is to be released from quarantine.
According to the extended declaration, “private flights” with the sole purpose of dropping off equipment and supplies will be allowed to land with no one disembarking the plane or to overnight. Passengers on these flights requesting an overnight stay will be subject to the 72 hours COVID-19 testing and negative results must be provided to DoH upon arrival.
The order also made clear that private flights will not be allowed to land in American Samoa if there is no approved forward plan guaranteeing landing authorization at the next or final destination airport.
(Samoa News notes that these specific provisions on private flights address incidents of these flights that occurred in the last 30-days.)
For “off-island medical referrals” to New Zealand and the U.S., the extended declaration says it remains suspended but the “option will be considered only for medical emergencies at the discretion” of the LBJ Medical Center’s off-island medical referral committee.
Medivac flights for sole purpose of picking up critically ill patients approved by the medical referral committee will be allowed, with full adherence to getting tested in the prior 72 hours for the pilot and the flight crew before arrival.
Furthermore, medivac flights “for the sole purpose of repatriating our patients sent to New Zealand will comply” with the 72-hours before arrival testing protocol. The patient will also be tested upon arrival, followed by required quarantine protocols at LBJ for observation before DoH — in collaboration with LBJ — agrees on the release.
US Coast Guard and other military flights will continued to be allowed to land, however, overnight stays will trigger adherence to testing and quarantine protocols at the hotel of stay under DoH monitoring.
According the extended order, all government employees, regardless of age, will go back to 40 hours of work per week or 80 per pay period. Furthermore, social distancing methods are to be practiced in conducting government business by using telecommunications tools, video conferencing, phone calls, and emails.
“It is strongly recommended that all employees serving the public are to wear masks and the department or agency is to provide masks for the designated employees,” it says.
SCHOOLS AND DAY CARES
All public and private schools, day care centers and the American Samoa Community College will re-open, along with the approval to hold Summer school programs provided that social distancing protocols “are adhered to faithfully” and the wearing of face masks is encouraged.
The governor also authorized the opening of schools for the new school year 2020/2021 as well as the re-opening of day care centers. (See separate story in today’s edition on day care centers.)
Under the amended declaration, all public gatherings, including religious worship are open from 5a.m to 9p.m and the public is “requested and encouraged to continue to practice social distancing including use of masks when engaging in these public activities.”
The public is advised that “failure to obey this restriction will be prosecuted as a Class A Misdemeanor” under local law, according to the order — referring to the time of 5 a.m to 9 p.m. And the Public Safety Department is charged with enforcement.
All businesses will only be allowed to operate from 5am. to 9 p.m. and are encouraged to practice social distancing within their respective places of business at 100% capacity (which means there’s no limitation for people inside a business.)
StarKist and its direct documented business affiliates, water production and oxygen gas production are exempted under Code Blue.
Businesses are reminded that price gouging is prohibited during a declared state of emergency — as outlined in local law — and violators “will be prosecuted vigorously to the full extend of the law,” the extended order points out.
All public transportation services will also operate from 5a.m. to 9p.m daily except for buses under contract with StarKist, whose employees riding on the contracted buses “will wear masks”.
During hours of operation, buses and taxis “must institute social distancing practice” and “each bus and taxi may only operate at half the seating capacity”, according to the extended declaration.
Click on attachment to download full text of Declaration