More than 900 Samoans in N.Z. seek way home
More than 900 Samoans in New Zealand are hoping to find their way home on one of the four approved Air New Zealand flights to and from Samoa starting this month, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi has revealed.
The first incoming flight will be on 22 May which is expected to bring over 150 passengers.
Tuilaepa said the first lot are those who have already paid return tickets but have had flights delayed for weeks due to the circumstances warranted by the COVID-19 pandemic and whose permits of stay have expired.
"So they need to come. This is why the Government has allowed for this flight to happen. The flight is operated by Air New Zealand and it has been approved by the Government," Tuilaepa said in his 2AP programme on Friday.
But before they can board the plane, Tuilaepa said people intending to fly to Samoa must first comply with requirements imposed by the Cabinet.
"Requirements have already been laid out that they should all be tested for the coronavirus a few days before coming into Samoa and provide confirmation,” he said.
“If not, they will not be allowed to board.
"And once they arrive, they will be forced to be quarantined to ensure there is no chance of the virus spreading should one of them show any signs. This means, checks will be done there and checks will be done here."
The initial announcement of the approved flights was made by the New Zealand High Commission in Samoa earlier this month.
Tuilaepa further said that Samoans in New Zealand who flew over through the national carrier, Samoa Airways, will also able to find seats on these approved flights with the appropriate arrangements being being put in place
"For those who cannot make it onto the first flight, be patient. It is not anyone's fault, it is due to the pandemic. Do not rush in coming in all at once because the Government has to keep an eye on the first lot to be safe before more decisions are made," he said.
"We are playing it safe, but then those who are coming in also have the responsibility to be truthful during the processes of these mandatory requirements. Because if you come and show signs of being infected, your name, village and your children will be made public for the safety of the public."
The amended Orders released on 8 May, 2020 outlines the required amendments for incoming passengers.
For any passengers intending to travel to Samoa, the following considerations and categories of travellers are relevant:
(i) returning residents and students with returning tickets;
(ii) where travel permits have expired;
(iii) the need for essential services for Samoa; and
(iv) any other special and relevant ground for travel to Samoa.
(b) The following mandatory terms for each passenger apply:
(i) a COVID 19 test has been done within three (3) days before departure for Samoa; and
(ii) confirmation of completion of the 14 day quarantine period, before departure for Samoa; and
(iii) to be quarantined on arrival in Samoa for 14 days.