Passengers query rejection by Samoa Airways
Questions have been raised by international travellers about the implementation of the Ministry of Health’s travel restrictions by Samoa Airways.
Two passengers who were travelling from the United States to Samoa, via Auckland New Zealand, claimed they were "wrongfully rejected" when in fact they should have been allowed to fly.
As of February 4, M.O.H precautions against accidentally importing the new coronavirus include barring passengers from China, Hong Kong and Macau, and demanding they spend 14 days in quarantine in a country free of confirmed virus cases.
For passengers coming from the 24 other countries where there are confirmed cases, the passengers must display a medical certificate from a registered medical professional signed off within three days of arriving in Samoa.
But on February 1, two passengers trying to get to Samoa from Auckland after their trip to the United States of America were denied their seats on the midday Samoa Airways flight.
The staff told them they needed to quarantine themselves in New Zealand.
The pair had valid medical certificates, and had not been to China, which at that time was the only country requiring quarantine (Hong Kong and Macau were added to the list on February 4).
Contacted for a comment, Robert Rounds, the Airline's Commercial Manager, said they are merely following orders from the Ministry of Health.
"Samoa Airways has no comment as we are adhering to the requirements/measures put in place by the authorities," he said in an email. "And I am sure you do understand that such measures are in place for the safety of our own people."
But the couple, who spoke to the Samoa Observer on the condition of anonymity, are not happy.
Having missed their Saturday flight to Samoa, they went to Air New Zealand to try and solve their problem.
And once they produced their medical certificates, the airline sold them two tickets to Apia for Sunday as allowed to per Ministry of Health policy.
Upon arrival they were not sent out of Apia or put into 14-day quarantine at Faleolo Health Centre.
The details of the travel restrictions for incoming passengers to Samoa as of February 4:
A Special Health Declaration Form is required to be filled out by all travelling passengers inflight or on arrival in Samoa.
Compulsory screening of all arriving passengers to Samoa is now in effect at all ports of entry.
All Travelers originating FROM or TRANSITING through Mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau must spend at least 14 days self-quarantine at country of last port that is free of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus and must undergo medical clearance within three (3) days prior to final route to Samoa. This must be their final stop before travelling to Samoa.
Travellers from the following countries are required to undergo medical examination by a Medical practitioner within (3) days before travelling to Samoa. This medical clearance is required for check-in prior to issuing of boarding passes: Australia, Cambodia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom United States (specifically California, Washington, Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts) and Vietnam.