The Secretary of the Liquor Board, Solia Tanuvasa Kalolo, has clarified the conditions surrounding the alcohol ban during the General Election days.
“The ban will be in place for shops, bars and nightclubs,” Solia said.
“But for hotels and restaurants, they will be exempt with the sale of food a beverages.”
Solia made the clarification during an interview with the Samoa Observer outside Hotel Elisa yesterday where an emergency meeting was held between the Liquor Board and members of the Samoa Chamber of Commerce.
The meeting, facilitated by the former President of the Chamber, Tuiloma Sina Retzlaff, was to discuss the concerns of business owners about the impact of the ban on their establishments.
The media was not allowed in the meeting.
But Solia said the Liquor Board is mindful about the importance of tourism to Samoa.
“The tourism industry is very important to Samoa,” he said. “Tourists will be allowed to have some drinks with their meals providing that they are at a restaurant or hotel with a license to sell food and beverage.”
According to Solia, hotels and restaurants are not allowed to sell alcohol to be taken outside of their premises.
He reminded that the ban is not new in times of elections and it is done mainly for the safety of members of the public.
“We have special occasions where we cease the selling of alcohol for a specific date and time like Christmas and Easter,” Solia said.
“This includes special occasions such as the elections. It was practiced during past elections and it continues to be done. We have to continue to follow the procedures and the guidelines set.”
The ban on alcohol sale becomes effective at midnight tonight until Saturday morning.
For Tuiloma, she said the discussion was cordial and it went very smoothly.
“I think the success of today was through the ability of applying our cultural context and traditional ways of resolving possible conflicts,” Tuiloma said. “That is by sitting down face to face with one another to discuss the issue”
Tuiloma explained that issues arose from misunderstanding a public notice that had been issued by the Board.
Apart from clearing the air in regards to the alcohol ban, the meeting also strengthened the relationship between the private sector and the Liquor Board.
“There was a lot of discussion and mutual respect between the two parties,” said Tuiloma. “We recognize that in order to move forward, we need to deal with a few things like improving communications, consultation and to improve on our relationship together.”
Darryl Scott, Owner of the Edge Cocktail lounge, was happy with the outcome.
“I think from today’s meeting we received a lot of clarification. So places that thought they had to completely close down actually didn’t have to.
“Now the government, the board, chamber of commerce and the private sector all understand what the ban really is.”
Sose Annandale, General Manager of Sinalei Reef Resort, said there is a need for better communication between the private sector and the Liquor Board.
“One thing that became clear during this meeting is that we need to open up a closer dialogue so there’s input from the private sector which would help in moving forward.”