Ministry closes Mt Vaea reserve trail

The Mt Vaea reserve trail at Vailima has been closed until further notice due to the failure by visitors to observe strict social distancing rules.

The popular spot has attracted a lot of people since the declaration of the state of emergency (S.O.E.) last month, in defiance of S.O.E. orders that banned the gathering of five or more people in public areas.

The C.E.O. of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ulu Bismarck Crawley, announced the trail’s temporary closure in a public notice published on social media on Tuesday.

“We have been facing difficulties with visitors adhering to restrictions of gatherings and social distancing. On that regard, the Ministry once again wishes to inform the general public, in particular those who are using the trail for recreational activity uphill to the Robert Louis Stevenson’s tomb, that the Mt. Vaea scenic reserve trail is now closed temporarily starting Monday 20th April 2020 until further notice,” states the public notice.

“We apologize for any inconvenience especially for those who are regular visitors and are keen to comply. For more information, please contact the Ministry on telephone 67200/28680 from 9am to 3pm.”

But the closure of the trail has not gone down well with Lotopa resident Fuatino Tauala, who is a carpenter by trade.

"I usually go to Vailima reserve for an evening walk up to Robert Louis Stevenson's grave, and it was fortunate that we can now get off work earlier than usual. I have the time to go up there for exercises and yet it's closed," he said.

"Since the S.O.E we have reduced our working hours and now the Vailima reserve is closed, looks like I'll be spending time at home. Vailima Reserve has been my place to release my stress.”

A few families that drove up to the trail on Tuesday morning were surprised to see the notice of its temporary closure and turned back.

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