Ministry staff quarantined after violating restricted site

A Ministry of Customs and Revenue vehicle “forced” its way into the Insel Ferhman Hotel – a coronavirus quarantine facility – on Wednesday morning and led to the detaining and quarantine of the driver and two customs agents.

A Insel Ferhman Hotel Manager, who did not want to be identified,  expressed disappointment with the Ministry driver, who it is alleged, did not adhere to restrictions for quarantine sites. 

“According to the security on duty and our security, Sagele the driver forced his way into the driveway, even though the security informed him they cannot enter,” he explained. 

“I informed the appropriate authorities, such as the Ministry of Health immediately because they entered a restricted area.” 

The Minister of Customs and Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt and the Revenue Commissioner, Matafeo Avalisa Viali-Fautuaali'i, told the Samoa Observer that the three staff had been taken into quarantine. 

The Commissioner dismissed reports that their staff “forced their way into the hotel.” 

“They were delivering letters informing the businesses of the ongoing training for the tax invoice monitoring system,” said Matafeo.

According to Matafeo, the driver and one [customs] agent waited in the car, while the other employee entered the hotel lobby. 

But upon the return of the staff, they were informed by the security team that they had breached the restricted quarantine area. 

The matter was then reported to the Ministry of Health,” she said. 

Matafeo said that safety was a priority for the Government as a whole. 

“And if that means my staff have to be quarantined then so be it, but we will not take any risks,” she added. 

“They should have returned knowing that was a quarantine site, but instead they went ahead.” 

Tialavea, who is also the Minister of Police, expressed disappointment that vehicles did not observe the restrictions imposed at the quarantine sites. 

“They should have never entered or attempted to enter any site. It’s frustrating when people don’t use their common sense,” he said.  

“These sites are on lockdown for a reason and that is to keep everyone safe and we will not take any risks. 

“And now they are kept away from society and this could have been avoided if they had listened to the security and stayed away from the sites.”

Efforts to get comments from the security firm were unsuccessful as of press time. 

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