State of emergency declared
People over 60 will have their freedom of movement curtailed, schools will be closed, and gatherings of five or more banned, in a sweeping state of emergency brought in to combat the coronavirus.
The Prime Minister, Tuliaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, announced the state of emergency, on Friday evening and said it would take effect for two weeks.
“The Government feels it is time to implement the motoring actions to ensure [coronavirus] does not take anyone’s life from our country,” he said
The state of emergency comprises 20 separate orders.
“All persons of the age of 60 and above are to remain at home and must not move out and about in public, unless he or she is seeking medical attention at any health facility,” according to the Government restrictions on the movements of older people.
Other measures to take effect from 21 March include forbidding gatherings of five people or more including for church, weddings, reunions, birthdays and other get-togethers.
Schools are closed and any sports activities and bingo should be stopped, the Prime Minister said.
Tuilaepa called upon members of the public to obey the orders from Government to guarantee that preventative measures are carried out without any disruption.
Friday’s press conference followed a cabinet meeting at which a range of possible measures were discussed.
Other state of emergency orders include a national prayer week from Sunday 22 March to 29 March, shutting down of international travel except for returning Samoan citizens who will require a negative coronavirus test 5 days before travel.
The hours for the markets in Fugalei, Savalalo, Vaitele and Salelologa have also been restricted for opening, from 6am to 4pm.
People have been forbidden from sleeping in the markets.
Street vendors selling goods on the road including families setting up stalls on the side of the road are also ordered to cease operations.
Night clubs and movie theatres are to be closed.
Public buses are to cease operation; only taxis will be allowed.
Flights to New Zealand will be limited in a week, one flight to Australia and all flights to Fiji and Tonga are suspended.
All seasonal workers who had been intending to leave for New Zealand and Australia have been told to shelve their plans until further notice as well as scholarships for students.
Interisland ferries between Upolu and Savai’I have been reduced to 3 trips a week from Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The public have also been ordered to refrain from gathering at the airport or the wharf.
Tuilaepa said the orders will also see the reduction of the number of public servants working to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
All international travel for public officials have also been suspended.
The public have also been urged to stop unnecessary visits to the hospital unless people require serious medical attention.
The Prime Minister, in his announcement, urged all of Samoa to work together for the safety of its people.