ADVERTISEMENT

More 'relaxed', powerful Cabinet under emergency

The state of emergency has been amended to include new powers and relaxed procedures for Cabinet, and a liability clause for the Advisory Board appointed to manage the Government response to the global coronavirus pandemic.

The three amendments were revealed this week are signed by His Highness the Head of State, Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II. 

They join a raft of measures in the state of emergency orders designed to prevent and contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the changes, Cabinet will be empowered to make regulations, rules and orders for the public sector in order to keep the country safe.

Further, Cabinet and Parliament procedures will be “relaxed” during the state of emergency which currently is set to expire on April 4. 

But Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi indicated on Monday the orders may extend for another 14 days from the arrival of the most recently arrived travellers to Samoa. 

The relaxing of procedures are intended to allow Cabinet and Parliament to meet urgently whenever necessary, “for effective decision making of the country.”

And the Advisory Board, appointed on Tuesday by the Cabinet to support the national pandemic response, has been granted a liability clause for “actions done in good faith” in their work.

The board’s members are: former Attorney General Aumua Ming Leung Wai, senior lawyer Fepuleai Patrick Fepuleai and former Law Society President Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale.

The clause indemnifies the Advisory Board from legal liability for anything they do while working for the country and its pandemic response. 

There are now 17 orders under the state of emergency, which detail the rules and restrictions on people, businesses and the public sector during the emergency period and the penalties liable to those who breach them.

The three new amendments include:

  • Cabinet is empowered to make Regulations, Rules or Orders for the implementation of the public sector duties and responsibilities, for maintaining safety, for the best interests of and the welfare of the country.
  • The Advisory Board appointed under Article 108 of the Constitution, shall not incur any liability for actions done in good faith under Article 108. 
  • Given the pandemic Covid19, procedures of Cabinet and Parliament, may be relaxed during the State of Emergency, so that decision making for the good of the country may continue. For effective decision making for the country, the above Orders do not bar any urgent and essential meetings of Cabinet and Parliament to take place during the State of Emergency.  

The complete state of emergency orders which are effective from March 30, and replace any previous measures are as follows: 

  • National fasting and prayer:

A national period of fasting and prayer is to be observed by every family in Samoa from Sunday 22 March 2020 until Sunday 29 March 2020 from 6.00am – 12.00pm daily.

  • International travel, planes and ships:

Except in exceptional circumstances with Cabinet approval, starting from 12am of Thursday morning, 26 March 2020, all international travel to and from Samoa by plane are ceased.

Ship access to Apia wharf is limited to trade and petroleum; fishing boats and all others are prohibited until further notice, and the Ministry of Health is required to continue with the approved medical clearance of all involved.

 Public gatherings:

  • There shall be no public gathering of more than 5 people at any public place. 
  • There shall be no public gatherings of any sort which include but are not limited to
  • Church gatherings;
  • Sports events;

Entertainment gatherings.

  • All nightclubs, bars, theatres, bars attached to restaurants or hotels, or any other public place people accustom for social gatherings are to be closed.
  • All people are prohibited from gathering at airports or wharves unless it is for permitted travel.  
  • All owners of restaurants are:
    • prohibited from opening to customers for dining in; and
    • permitted to provide customers with food to take away, for consumption away from a public place (at home).

 Public transport:

  • Vehicles
    • prohibited from opening to customers for dining in; and
    • permitted to provide customers with food to take away, for consumption away from a public place (at home)
    • The operation of public transport such as buses and vans that carry more than 5 people are prohibited
    • Operators of public transport that carry 5 people or less are permitted to continue operations

Ferries

  • Effective from 12am of Thursday morning, 26 March 2020, travel for passengers between Upolu and Savaii cease. This does not include ferry travel for trade and Government services.

 Markets and supermarkets:

  • The Savalalo, Fugalei, Salelologa, Vaitele markets, and all other flea markets or any market which the public have access to
  • are only permitted to open from 6.00am – 4.00pm after which a curfew will be in force from 4.00pm to 6.00am daily; and
  • every person is required to return home by 4.00pm and is not permitted to sleep overnight at any marketplace.
  • Opening hours for all supermarkets is from 6am-4pm, until further notice.  

Street vendors

  • There shall be no selling of any goods beside roads, street, culverts or footpaths.
  • Children selling goods in public is strictly prohibited. 

 Schools:

  • All schools are to close until further notice. 

 Access to Health Facilities:

  • All persons of the age of 60 and above are to remain at home and must not move out and about in public, unless he or she is seeking medical attention at any health facility. 

  • All persons are prohibited from accessing any health facility unless he or she is seeking medical attention at any health facility.

  • A person that is admitted to the hospital may:

    • only have one carer to tend to him or her; and
    • only be visited by 2 people at any one time. 
  • All patient care intended for travel overseas under the Samoa Medical Treatment Scheme are hereby suspended until further notice. 

Restriction for Government services:

  • The Public Service Commission (“Commission”) is to determine conditions in which employees are to continue working under, with the objective of ensuring minimal spread of infection.
  • The Commission’s conditions shall apply to all Government Ministries and Public Bodies. 
  • All Government trips overseas are hereby suspended until further notice. 

 Ministry of Health duties:

  • The Ministry of Health shall ensure to implement awareness programmes for the prevention of the spread the Covid-19.

Samoa Police Service:

  • The Samoa Police Service shall implement this Order.

Special Powers of Government Chief Executive Officers:

  • All Chief Executive Officers of Government Ministries and Public Bodies are empowered to exercise their statutory functions, duties and powers provided under any legislation, or administrative functions for the implementation of the Sector Preparedness and Response Matrix Consolidated for Corona Virus Pandemic (“Response Matrix”).
  • Cabinet is empowered to make Regulations, Rules or Orders for the implementation of the public sector duties and responsibilities, for maintaining safety, for the best interests of and the welfare of the country.

 Emergency Order Offence Notice:

  • A police officer may serve an Emergency Order Offence Notice on a person who has committed an offence to which this Emergency applies.
  • A Notice under this Order shall be in the form approved by the Commissioner of Police.
  • A Person who has been served with a Notice may elect to pay the fine stated in the Notice within 24 hours of the issuance of the Notice.  

Penalties

  • A person commits an offence where the person does not comply with any of the above orders, attracting the following penalties: 

    • a fine of

      • for an individual, a fine of $200 for a first offence, and a fine of $500 for a continuous offence; or
      • or an organization or corporation or similar such legal entity, a fine of $5,000 for a first offence, a fine of $7,000 for a continuous offence; or
      • detainment by the Police not exceeding 3 months; or
      • both detainment and fines prescribed under paragraph (a)
      • The payment of a fine under this Order, shall avoid any further prosecution for the offence stipulated in the Notice issued under Order 13.
      • Where a person is convicted of an offence under these Orders, he or she shall be liable to a fine not exceeding $10,000.00 or imprisonment not exceeding 12 months, or both. 

Advisory Board – Article 108:

  • The Advisory Board appointed under Article 108 of the Constitution, shall not incur any liability for actions done in good faith under Article 108. 

Flexibility of procedures:

  • Given the pandemic Covid19, procedures of Cabinet and Parliament, may be relaxed during the State of Emergency, so that decision making for the good of the country may continue. 
  • For effective decision making for the country, the above Orders do not bar any urgent and essential meetings of Cabinet and Parliament to take place during the State of Emergency.

Financing

  • The financing of the implementation of this Order shall be funded by the appropriate budget approved by the Government.



Bg pattern light

UPGRADE TO PREMIUM

Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?