Emergency chief appeals for public compliance
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.) Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.), Ulu Bismarck Crawley, has appealed to the public to voluntarily comply with restrictions on its free movement.
Ulu was speaking in response to reports of a public gathering in numbers at the Vailima Robert Louis Stevenson scenic reserve on Easter Monday public holiday, despite state of emergency (S.O.E.) orders prohibiting large gatherings.
"The Ministry cannot afford to know everything. The S.O.E. and subsequent restrictions are clear," said Ulu who is also the Chairman of the National Emergency Operation Centre.
"We need all the help from the public to enforce these restrictions especially as they were for the safety of all.
“Penalties are there and police are requesting the public for compliance to avoid unnecessary fines and penalty."
Due to the lockdown, endorsed by the Government in an effort to prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.) advised that the use of the Mt. Vaea reserve will now be restricted to 6am to 4pm from Monday to Saturday.
"We can only ask for the public assistance. They have seen and witnessed what this virus can do to close families and loved ones," Ulu added.
"It’s sad and we don’t want Samoa to be invaded by this virus. For the Ministry we will continue to provide the necessary awareness and praying for the public understanding and collaboration."
The M.N.R.E. notice released last month states that recreational activities which involve a group of more than five people are also strictly prohibited.
Also prohibited is the congregation of people under the Fale Samoa at the car park at any time.
The Ministry added that together with the Police they will be responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance by the public in terms of the use of the Mt. Vaea scenic reserve.
On Monday, the Samoa Observer found both the Mt. Vaea car park and the side of the road lined with the parked cars of trekkers who had walked up the mountain.
S.O.E. amended orders regarding public gatherings are as follows:
(1) There shall be no public gathering of more than 5 people at any public place.
(2) There shall be no public gatherings of any sort which include but are not limited to:
(a) Church gatherings;
(b) Sports events;
(c) Entertainment gatherings.
(3) All nightclubs, bars, theatres, bars attached to restaurants or hotels, or any other public place people accustomed [to] social gatherings are to be closed.
(4) All people are prohibited from gathering at airports or wharves unless it is for permitted travel.
(5) All owners of restaurants are:
a. prohibited from opening to customers for dining in; and
b. permitted to provide customers with food to take away, for consumption away from a public place (at home).