Businesses react with virus prevention methods

Retailers across town are taking steps to mitigate any spread of disease as Samoa continues under Alert Level 1 this week.

Whether mandating masks inside for customers or putting sanitisers at doorways, Apia’s shopping centre is on high alert after two men tested positive for COVID-19 in the last fortnight.

The Ministry of Health has since confirmed with both local and New Zealand testing that both men are not contagious because their positive test had identified scraps of the COVID-19 virus leftover from an old infection.

For now, Samoa remains under Alert Level 1, according to the National Emergency Operations Centre.

On Beach Road, Eveni Carruthers have gone as far as having its own COVID-19 response unit, headed by Lisa Vaai.

She told the Samoa Observer that since Samoa went into Alert Level 1, staff have been taking random temperature checks at the door using a non-contact thermometer, and asking anyone with a temperature of 38.5 degrees or higher to consult a doctor.

“This of course does not mean they have COVID-19, but that there could be an infection that needs to be reviewed,” Ms. Vaai said.

“We have this in place to familiarize customers with our procedures should we ever need to switch to 'Level Orange'.

“So far, we haven't had anyone reach a high fever temperature and customers have been curious [and] appreciative to use our non-contact thermometers. 

“We aren't too worried at this stage. It's just important we stay prepared and ready to move should the situation change.”

As well as this, Eveni has preparing for COVID-19 since March, when the pandemic’s effects hit Samoa and its borders closed. 

Staff have daily temperature checks before they start work, and wear masks during their shift. The store itself is disinfected regularly. 

For customers, hand sanitisers are kept at the entrances to the store and the counters, and a sink has been installed outside with soap for anyone who would rather wash their hands.          

Bank South Pacific (B.S.P.) Country Head Maryann Lameko-Vaai explained that all B.S.P. branches now ask both staff and customers to wear a mask while in the store.

“The safety of our customers, staff and the people of Samoa is paramount to BSP and we will do our part in supporting the government’s efforts to keeping Samoa safe,” she said.

“With the two confirmed cases and Samoa being on a Level 1 alert, BSP has also invoked level 1 of its crisis management plan which includes the execution of all the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our customers and staff.”

Ms. Lameko-Vaai said the bank is eager to see more people using electronic platforms to do their banking and reduce the number of people in stores.

That includes online banking, and maximizing the use of agents, ATMs and EFTPOS machines for withdrawals, deposits and checking ones balance.

A.N.Z.’s Regional Manager, Bernie Poort, said the branch has put several rules in place, including a having a maximum of 20 customers inside at a time. 

Front line staff have to wear masks, and have been give five reusable cloth masks each, while the branch keeps up a stock of disposable masks.

Mr. Poort said especially for cash-handling staff, it is expected that they should wash their hands thoroughly every hour.

“Vulnerable staff have the option to work from home and we continue to build out the working from home solution as a viable Business Continuity Plan for A.N.Z. Samoa,” he added. Vulnerable staff are either older or have a medical issue.

“We continue to monitor the situation and are extremely grateful to M.O.H. and N.E.O.C. for their great work in keeping Samoa safe from Covid-19 and their regular updates on the situation as it evolves on the ground.

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