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Small shops to also close on Sundays

Opening hours for small shops on Sundays will now be limited as more amendments to the Government's state of emergency [S.O.E.] orders take effect despite the economic downturn. 

Small stores – identified as shops with a counter without a walk-in space – are now only expressly permitted to operate from 3pm on Sundays.

The rest of the S.O.E. orders remain in force, meaning restaurants and supermarkets opening hours will not change.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi said the objectives of the Sunday restrictions are being defeated by the number of people seen shopping on Sundays at small stores. 

Speaking during his weekly programme with the TV3 television station, Tuilaepa said shopping should be sorted out by Saturday, except for one or two items to grab from small stores the following day.

"So now, starting this Sunday, small shops are also prohibited from opening on a Sunday. All small and big stores will close so they can go to church – until it is 3pm, then they can all open," he said.

"And then supermarkets close at 7pm while small stores [will] open however long they like."

Tuilaepa stressed that there is no excuse for needing to shop on a Sunday as shops are open whole day on Saturday. 

"If you have forgotten something, just hold out until 3 pm," he said.

This restriction targeting small stores comes after a number of supermarkets "converted" their setup in order to meet the requirements of being a small shop and thus have flexible trading hours.

Some small supermarkets cemented their doors halfway up so they could meet the definition of being a "small store" since the Sunday restrictions on supermarkets' opening hours began. 

Samoa is in its fifth consecutive month of lockdown to mitigate risks associated with the global pandemic.

Under the S.O.E. orders, all trading on Sundays has been off the table for months while swimming in the sea or in rivers as well as the selling of alcohol in hotels and restaurants have been outlawed.  

Recently, a slight change to the rules allowed hotels to serve non-guests food from noon until 10pm, and restaurants were permitted to offer takeaway food on Sundays. All other businesses, except supermarkets running during limited hours, are not permitted to operate, including petrol stations.

During the week, the hospitality sector is forced to close at 10pm and supermarkets at 7pm.

Weekly repatriation flights have also been pushed back to be operated every three weeks while weekly flights for cargo remains unchanged until October.

Tuilaepa said this is due to people not showing up at the airport in Auckland to board their flight to Samoa.

But the decision to pause the repatriation flights has also been made to manage an overflow in passenger arrivals needing quarantine facilities, the Chairman of the National Emergency Operation Centre [N.E.O.C], Ulu Bismarck Crawley, said. 

According to Ulu, the break in the flights’ operation will possibly continue for three weeks or until further notice.

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