Church Ministers urged to ensure social distancing
The Government has reminded Church Ministers that it is their responsibility to ensure social distancing inside their sanctuaries.
The reminder was issued by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi during his media programmes throughout the week, as well as an in an official statement from the Government re-enforcing the orders for church services.
The orders are part of an ongoing State of Emergency (S.O.E.) in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Samoa remains one of the few countries without a case.
Still the Government is not letting the foot off the pedal in terms of restrictions.
Issued on Friday night, the statement was in response to what the Government described as “overwhelming inquiries” in relation to church services and what can be done.
For every church service, the Government says social distancing of 2 metres is to be strictly observed.
“The church Minister is to ensure the 2 meter social distancing in the church is adhered to,” the statement says.
The Government has also confirmed the rescheduling of a repatriation flight from New Zealand as well as a chartered flight for Samoans from Australia.
The following is what the Government issued:
a. church service on Sabbath day (e.g. on Sunday for EFKS, on Saturday for SDA) is permitted to have more than 1 church service; and
b. church services which include general church programmes during the week are permitted;
c. combined church services (tapuaiga tuufaatasi), meetings and Tofiga a Ekalesia are permitted but attendance is restricted to 50 couples;
d. social distancing of 2 meters is to be observed; and
e. the church Minister (faifeau) is to ensure the 2 meter social distancing in the church is adhered to.
REPATRIATION FLIGHT FROM NEW ZEALAND RE-SCHEDULED
The repatriation flight from New Zealand is re-scheduled from the 11th September 2020 to the 18th September 2020 due to flight availability, Cabinet approved late this afternoon.
The flight is designated for returning citizens and RSE workers who should be returning home since the end of their short term employment contracts.
REPATRIATION CHARTERED FLIGHT FROM AUSTRALIA
The Repatriation Flight for returning scholarships students who have completed studies in Australia, Japan, China and Papua New Guinea scheduled for the end of September per SOE approved this week, is proceeding as scheduled for the last week of September.
According to the Cabinet Directive issued Wednesday 2nd September 2020, Samoan residents and citizens who were unable to return home from Australia due to COVID-19 are also included in the repatriation flight.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is tasked with all arrangements and coordination that includes arranging a chartered Air New Zealand wide body aircraft. Passengers will be responsible for their own airfares.
Cabinet has also approved arrangements to bring home deceased citizens with the tragic passing of a scholarship student as well as an RSE worker in the past month.
The new order also prohibits “a person who holds more than one citizenship to use a foreign passport to travel out of Samoa, and returns to Samoa using his or her Samoan passport for a short term trip.”
According to the SOE, “A person who holds more than one citizenship, who uses a foreign passport to travel out of Samoa, and returns to Samoa using his or her Samoan passport for a short term trip, breaches order 2(2) and is subject to a fine of $2,000.00 in addition to being subject to paying his or her own costs for quarantine as required.
A person commits an offence where the person does not comply with quarantine requirements issued by the Director General of the Ministry of Health attracting a penalty of $2,000.00.”
EMERGENCY DOMESTIC FLIGHTS
Domestic flight services between Upolu and Savaii may operate on Sundays for emergency medical services only.