Government reconsiders reopening border

The Government has had to reconsider its plan to open Samoa's border to New Zealand, following the discovery of two new positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in that country.

The decision was confirmed by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, during his programme with Radio 2AP.

Tuilaepa had revealed that the Government was looking to re-opening its borders to international flights from New Zealand but that is now being reviewed.

The two new cases in New Zealand involved two Kiwis returning from the United Kingdom for a funeral.

“This is why New Zealand has been hit again with the virus," Tuilaepa said. "But the Government had already put in place new amendments, reopening a few more flights while easing the state of emergency."

The positive tests of the two New Zealanders also throws a spanner in the works of preparations by the Government to bring home Samoan seasonal workers.

The Minister for Commerce Industry and Labour, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, is currently looking at requests by the workers abroad to return home.

Tuilaepa said: “Quite a lot of seasonal workers want to return home. Another thing, those leading these groups of seasonal workers who are overseas are persistently requesting (the Government) regarding this.”

New Zealand-based, Ioapo Samuelu, who is a seasonal worker from Manono and Fagalii, told the Samoa Observer that he is booked to fly to Samoa in August.

“I can’t wait to hug my kids when I get home. I was supposed to return earlier than August,” he said. 

Mr. Samuelu said a lot of his colleagues want to return home, especially after the discovery of the two new COVID-19 cases this week. 

The Samoa Government will take a cautious approach, according to the Prime Minister, who emphasised that their decision to reopen the borders can change quickly depending on the circumstance. 

“We can change decisions quickly if there is a confirmed case in our country,” he added. “Which means for those who will be travelling into the country, we will keep an eye cautiously.”

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