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Samoa eases many rules in latest update of COVID-19 emergency orders

Samoa Ministry of Health logo
Sources: RNZ Pacific and Samoa Global News

Apia, SAMOA — Samoa's government has approved four Air New Zealand flights into the country this month.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told Radio 2AP he knows of more than 900 people who are wanting to return to Samoa, either because they're stranded or because their New Zealand permits have expired.

Samoa's border has been closed since early March, and no inbound travel has been allowed.

Anyone wanting to return to Samoa will have to have a Covid-19 test at least three days before they leave, and will be quarantined for 14 days on arrival.

Anyone wanting to travel from Samoa to New Zealand will be subject to Covid-19 quarantine measures.

The Prime Minister spoke to introduce updated state of emergency orders that confirms the continuation of Samoa closing its borders to international travel with the few exceptions to be closely monitored.

With the maximum 5 persons in public gatherings rule removed, locals are encouraged to spend at hotels to provide stimulus for the hard hit tourism industry with the new rules allowing hotel bars and services to open for business as usual under normal liquor license conditions:

Monday to Friday – 6.00am until 1.00am

Saturday – 6.00am to 12.00am

Sunday – 10.00am to 10.00pm.

For Sundays, hotels can open to their in-house guests within the permitted hours.

The Government has not yet relaxed the rules around Sunday trading which continues to impact fishermen and farmers who serviced the early morning rush to prepare family toanai. A tradition of Sunday morning market sales from the break of dawn to around 8a.m, which began because all families did not own a refrigerator for storage.

Schools started up peacefully in its first week with staggered classes and gym enthusiasts took advantage of non contact sports and sports gyms re-opening.

 The PM also said that the state of emergency limits would be eased to allow bingo on Saturday only, and only until 5p.m.

He said casinos can also now operate every day except Sunday, but with their hours of operation to be announced later.

The prime minister said there are still people from other countries in Samoa who want to play at the casinos.

Only foreigners and Samoans traveling from overseas are allowed to play in Samoa's casinos.

Tuila'epa said the government decided to reopen the casinos so workers who have gone unpaid can start earning again.