Passengers may pay for quarantine, flights may stop: P.M.
The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Tuilaepa, is considering having incoming repatriated passengers foot the cost of their quarantine and as the Government considers stopping the flights altogether.
The remarks follow the recapturing of a passenger who escaped a quarantine facility and a drunken brawl fight in another site within the span of five days of arriving in the country.
Tuilaepa noted that such behaviour is prompting thoughts to reconsider the continuation of repatriation flights.
“Such violations are also happening in New Zealand and it is provoking [thoughts] that maybe the Government should not be paying for [quarantine] anymore,” he said during his weekly 2AP programme on Thursday evening.
“When a passenger decides to come, they’ll pay for the full two weeks isolation periods in hotels and the Police to guard the place; especially those who buy vehicles as soon as they come out of quarantine.
“They are coming in with money; once they are released they buy cars and yet the government is paying for these meaning there may be some amendments very soon.”
The Prime Minister also revealed that a passenger who flew in on one of the repatriation flights brought in a chemical which he used to spray on his plantation.
The chemical was later found to be what was destroying his taro plants.
And while he agrees that the wrongdoing of one should not spoil it for the other passengers, Tuilaepa maintained that such acts put the nation’s lives at risk and will not be taken lightly.
He also used the opportunity to remind Samoans abroad that Samoa’s borders are not open.
The limited repatriation flights operated by the Air New Zealand airline are a result of the Government’s collaboration with the New Zealand Government to ensure Samoans in New Zealand are returned home. They are also for the purposes of bringing in essential medical supplies and cargo for the country.
There have been five flights so far. It is understood a few more flights are expected to arrive in the coming weeks. Passengers on each flight are preapproved.
Samoa’s borders are still under lockdown, Tuilaepa reiterated.
“The people coming into Samoa with the intention of coming and leaving again, it’s a no; they are not accepted to come,” he said.
“So those who intend to come for their funerals, weddings and title bestowments, it is prohibited. We do not need anyone to come for family obligations and vacations with the intention of returning.”
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are close to 400 Samoans stuck in other overseas countries awaiting a chance to be repatriated. Most of them are students who have completed their studies.