UPDATE: Seventh Amended Declaration extends prohibitions through Aug 31
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has extended for 31-days his coronavirus emergency declaration, through the Seventh Amended Declaration, effective Aug. 1st to Aug. 31, as American Samoa — without a confirmed case — continues under the “Code Blue” threat-level.
The amended document, released Friday 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 Aug. 1st, Hawaii health authorities reported 123 new cases bringing the state’s total to 2,111 cases and 26 fatalities, according to Hawaii’s health department.
The extended declaration notes that there have been recent confirmed reports on the second wave of infection for some of the US states consequential to easing of restrictions.
The governor reiterated what he has stated in previous declarations, “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.”
While American Samoa has no confirmed cases, “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,” the declaration states.
While the last declaration has similar provisions with the new one, there are a few new articles of information included in the 7th amended document as summarized below:
• All Hawaiian Airlines flights remain suspended with reconsideration slated for Sept. 1st.
• While inter-Samoa flights remain suspended and will be continually reviewed, depending on the COVID-19 status in both countries — the new document states that from Aug. 1st and ending on Aug. 17th, flights for Samoa Airways and Talofa Airways “will be allowed to transport medical, technical, skilled workers, other specialized workers requested by local companies and approved by the governor.”
While not specifically mentioned in the amended document, the governor did announce two-weeks ago that these flights will also bring in these workers for work on government projects.
And all travelers into the territory must provide negative COVID-19 test results within 72 hours before arrival.
A new provision in the declaration, states that “the traveler is required to disclose if he/ she had a positive test result prior to testing negative.”
(Samoa News notes that this issue is the result of a female FEMA contractor who arrived in the territory last month with a negative test result but upon further questioning by medical personnel at the airport, it was revealed that she had tested positive earlier. She was returned back to Honolulu.)
• The amended declaration provides additional information for requests for transporting of human remains back home. Such a request will be considered on a case by case basis with the review and approval triggered by the submission of a formal request to the governor along with the copy of the Death Certificate and other supporting documents detailing the cause of death.
No changes are made to regulations for all public gatherings, including religious worship — restrictions remain in place: 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.”
There are also no changes to restrictions placed on hours of operations for businesses: open from 5a.m to 9p.m. with social distancing encouraged. Businesses are reminded that under a declared state of emergency “price gouging is prohibited”.
All public transportation services will also continue to operate from 5a.m. to 9p.m daily except for buses under contract with StarKist, which are exempted from hours of operation restrictions.
Provisions of local law and regulation are partially suspended to the extent that the ASG Immigration Board will temporarily suspend its hearings function as it relates to P5 immigrant applications for “emergency technical assistance to combat COVID-19,” the amended declaration states.
The Attorney General is tasked with reviewing and deciding on these applications and in the AG’s absence from the territory — the governor will review and render decisions on requests.