Ulu dismisses claims of emergency "inconsistency"
The Chairman of the National Emergency Operations Centre (N.E.O.C.), Ulu Bismark Crawley, has dismissed claims there is an “inconsistency” in state of emergency restrictions on the number of attendees at public and private events.
“We are doing our best to address issues as they arise and it is not perfect, but we are trying,” said Ulu, who is also the Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. He said that fundraising events themselves are allowed but attendees must be limited to 100 people.
“As I said in my letter to [the Saint Mary’s Old Girls Association (S.M.O.G.A.)] I remind them of the conditions of the [state of emergency] when it comes to gatherings and events and I wished them well on their event,” said Ulu.
The Chairman was referring to a S.M.O.G.A. fundraising event held two weeks ago, at which the Police intervened to shut down the event.
Ulu had explicitly endorsed the fundraising in a letter to the President of the Saint Mary’s Old Girls Association (S.M.O.G.A.) in a letter dated 23 September 2020. In the letter, which was obtained by the Samoa Observer, titled “fundraising for (S.M.O.G.A.)” and addressed to the organisation’s President, Vernia Mah Yuen, Ulu acknowledged the organisation’s request to stage the event.
He said it could be held without incident, so long as they observed ordinary social distancing procedures and restricted the number of people in attendance to 100.
During the interview, Ulu said fundraisers must “control the number of people attending the fundraising” but were otherwise allowed.
He said it is clear under the state of emergency that nightclubs do not have a limit placed on the number of people in attendance on their premises. The only orders that remain in force are observing the two meters social distancing rule, but he said that may be changed given the holidays are coming up.
He also said that members of the public take their “hard work lightly”.
“And I must say that the work put in by our team to make these decisions at all levels is not easy. We don’t just write the [state of emergency] and send it to the Cabinet; there is a lot of work put into it before it goes out,” Ulu said.
“The public takes lightly the work and effort put in by the N.E.O.C. gathering data and putting together information to assure [...] leaders make informed and sound decisions.”
Regarding the coming White Sunday holiday, Ulu said the Government would be classifying the event as a typical church gathering for the purposes of regulation.
“We have nothing in particular for White Sunday, and it would be stupid if children will be removed from church and may as well leave it as it is,” said Ulu.