Apollo Cinemas backtracks on emergency dodge

A Samoa Observer investigation has forced Apollo Cinemas to acknowledge it has been defying a public ban on children congregating in public places - namely its theatres - and completely overhaul its policy. 

On Friday afternoon an 18-year-old was freely able to buy a ticket to the children themed "Frozen 2" movie and witnessed other, younger children on the premises. 

Apollo Cinemas cashier, Solomona Brown, told the Samoa Observer on Friday that they only checked children’s identification to ensure they complied with classification restrictions, not the state of emergency. 

Mr. Brown confirmed that they did not receive word from their employers regarding the state of emergency and were continuing to sell tickets without checking for ID as of this week.

Mr. Brown said that they have however been taking some preventative measures such as encouraging children, staff and customers in general to wear masks at screening. 

“We still have our regular customers come in with their children; we are only worried about the age restrictions of the movie,” he said.

“We ask them if they are 12 years or younger and explain to them our policy regarding ratings.” 

State of emergency orders, first proclaimed on November 15, prevented children under the age of 19 from public gatherings. 

On Monday Police intervened to stop a volleyball tournament with under 19 players. On Thursday the Deputy Police Commissioner, Papali’i Monalisa Tiai, warned those who continue to defy orders they could face law enforcement penalties. 

The Apollo Cinemas Manager, Mr. Arnold Dulguime says that their policy had been to leave children’s health in the hands of parents taking them to the cinemas. 

"We had parents come in with children and we told them our concerns, but they would still want to bring them in,” he said. 

Mr. Dulguime said parents would be required to sign a consent form claiming responsibility as a part of the cinemas policy.

But following the Samoa Observer’s inquiries Mr. Dulguime apologised to the public for the matter and undertook to begin complying with state of emergency orders. 

"We have since cancelled all the children's films, and will only be showing those suitable for those not affected by state of emergency orders. We will be enforcing these orders effective immediately,” he said. 

Calls to the Deputy Commissioner and the Government Secretariat regarding the Apollo matter were not immediately returned on Friday.

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