Previous Sunday restrictions due to emergency: P.M. Fiame

Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa has emphasised Sunday restrictions that were enforced by the previous government were done due to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency at that time.

Explaining the rationale of her Government’s recent decision to review and relax some of the S.O.E. orders, the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) leader said last week they spent time working on the budget as well as the emergency restrictions.

When she was asked to comment on the ban on businesses trading on Sundays, she said it was done under emergency conditions.

"I think the point needs to be made that the Sunday ban was done under emergency conditions so it's not really a law per se, it was a condition put in place to protect people under Covid situations,” she said. 

“But if it is the wish of the country that we do move or adapt a law where we keep the sabbath then I think that needs to be a dedicated law.

“I think it's something that we need a discussion on in the country because no one had discussions about Sunday banning, it was all part of the protections for [COVID-19].”

Close to a week ago the new F.A.S.T. Government relaxed state of emergency orders and relaxed operating hours for inter-island ferry trips as well as lifted trading hours restrictions.

At the press conference on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said some of the restrictions were put in place on the recommendations of the National Emergency Operation Centre. "Some of the amendments that were made to the conditions of S.O.E were on the recommendation of our [National Emergency Operation Center] committee, was some loosening of provisions with regards to trading hours on Sunday.”

Fiame added that shops and supermarkets as well as petrol stations can now open on Sundays from 12pm to 10pm at night.

"The provisions for going to the beach on Sunday have now been loosened and people can now go to the beach from 12 in the afternoon,” she said.

“But this of course also needs to take into account with our public what the rules and conditions are with the different villages where our beaches are at, but of course, the target group for the particular loosening of the provisions of S.O.E. are our tourism sector, our hotels and accommodation businesses in our beachfront areas.”

"The travel between Savai’i and Upolu on Sundays has been recommended to return to the normal hours that were there previously and also for gatherings for fundraisings, this has been also loosened at the recommendation of our N.E.O.C. committee."

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