Dual citizen "tricksters" face $2000 fine

The Government is cracking down on dual citizens making use of dual New Zealand and Samoan passports to make short-term visits to Samoa during the coronavirus pandemic border lockdown.

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, referred to such people as "tricksters" warning that they would be found and fined $2000. 

Tuilaepa issued the warning while speaking to journalists to explain the amended state of emergency orders approved by Cabinet on Wednesday this week.

Tuilaepa said people using their dual passports in this way are costing the Government money to pay for their holiday and return by using their New Zealand passports.

Tuilaepa explained that there are citizens that travel to Samoa using their Samoan passports and using their New Zealand passports when they return to that country.

He said there have been people that are misusing the repatriation flights that are intended for returning citizens as the country imposes measures and restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“Once you are found you will be penalised,” he said.

“The Government is paying for the expenses twice when they come for holiday and going back. Those tricksters are being warned that there is a substantive fine to penalise them and they will remain here until whatever year the borders are opened.”

According to amended orders those breaching orders of entering and exiting the country on short term visits will be found and penalised. 

The orders noted that if proven to have attempted to circumvent state of emergency restrictions against short term returns to Samoa, people will bear the cost of their mandatory 14 days quarantine upon arrival to Samoa.  

Under the order the next repatriation flight from New Zealand - which had been scheduled for 11 September - will instead arrive on 18 September due to scheduling constraints. The flight will cater to returning citizens and workers on short-term contracts, the Government Press Secretariat said. 

The Prime Minister emphasised that the nation's borders are not opened, the only exemption is for repatriation and charter flights to return stranded citizens and scholarship students overseas.

A charter flight has been organised to return scholarship students in Australia, Japan, China and Papua New Guinea on the last week of September.

According to the Cabinet Directive issued on Wednesday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will charter an Air New Zealand aircraft for the purposes of repatriation. Passengers will be responsible for their own airfares.

The Government has also made arrangements to repatriate Samoan nationals who have passed away overseas, including a seasonal worker involved in a car accident in New Zealand last month. 

Under the amendments, domestic flight services between Upolu and Savai'i may operate on Sundays for emergency medical services only.

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