New family event rules under emergency order changes

Saofai (title bestowals), umusaga (formal openings) and birthday parties can resume with large groups again under the latest amendments to the state of emergency orders, but funerals and reunions are still restricted to five people or fewer.

In the amendments released on Wednesday evening, the three previously mentioned events are now permitted with attendance restricted to 50 couples, suggesting no children are permitted.

The same applies to weddings, which are also restricted to being hosted in hotels only with a 10pm curfew. 

Asked for clarification over why some cultural or family events were permitted to gather crowds while reunions and funerals are not, the Government’s press secretary directed the Samoa Observer to the Prime Minister’s interview with Radio 2AP on Tuesday 16 June.

In the interview, the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailelemalielagoi, said that during fa’alavelave (family events), families tend to drink heavily afterwards and put themselves and each other at risk by driving under the influence of alcohol. 

The Samoa Observer did not receive a response to further questions on the rule disparity. 

Meanwhile church service restrictions to a single Sunday or Saturday service have been relaxed, with weekly programming permitted so long as not more than one congregation at a time is involved, such national church gatherings. 

The rules are the latest in a string of state of emergency order amendments that cannot be directly tied to a public health benefit related to COVID-19, the reason Samoa is currently under a state of emergency.

Orders have developed a suite of bans over what businesses can and cannot trade on Sundays, while a restriction on the sale of alcohol after 10pm exists on other days of the week.

Those Sunday restrictions will be drafted into law by the Attorney General’s office, according to Tuilaepa, who wants to clamp down on “devilish ways” in the country.

“Let us go back to keeping the commandments from God. There are rights that we should adhere to but there are also rights that are questionable in my mind that are not relevant to God’s commandments,” he told 2AP earlier this month.

“We are trying to get us back; for now we are using the orders under the coronavirus state of emergency.”


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