State of emergency extended but announcement missed

The state of emergency for Samoa is continuing into June, despite a failure by the National Emergency Operations Committee to make a public notice. 

The latest iteration of the state of emergency orders, now up in its 45th edition, was signed by the Head of State His Highness Tuimalealiifano Vaaleta Sualauvi II on Saturday 8 May and extends the orders until Sunday 6 June. 

Responding to questions in an email National Emergency Operations Centre (N.E.O.C.) Interim Chair Agafili Shem Leo confirmed the state of emergency had been extended but did not offer an explanation as to why there has been no public announcement.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry President, Seulupe Michelle Macdonald, confirmed that the private sector representative body was only informed verbally of the extension on Tuesday, and is still waiting for the official information to come from N.E.O.C. with the full state of emergency orders. 

By 6:30 pom on Tuesday that had not yet arrived.

She said however the business community has "become accustomed" to these monthly extensions.

Seulupe, who took on the Chamber Presidency in April this year, said in the last month the Chamber has not make any specific requests to the N.E.O.C. about amending the orders to make them more business or trade friendly.

She declined to answer whether the two day lapse in communication between the last extension's expiry and the informal announcement of the new extension had caused any anxiety among the business community. 

The orders, which span 13 pages and include 20 separate rules and regulations, have largely been in place since March 2020 when the threat of the pandemic first headed for Samoa.

A swift border closure meant no infections made it into the country and with the exception of one asymptomatic case and a handful of historical cases caught in the quarantine system for arrivals Samoa has remained COVID-19.

In the meantime, slow repatriation flights are still scheduled to keep bringing Samoans and others back to the country.

The Samoa Observer understands flights scheduled for Friday 04 and 25 June to repatriate Recognised Seasonal Employer workers in New Zealand are still going ahead.

There are no more repatriation flights in May, with a previously scheduled flight for Friday 14 May now cancelled in response to the newly scheduled election.

A flight of seasonal workers headed for Australia will leave Samoa on Thursday 13 May, however.

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