Samoa’s international borders to open in August

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Samoan Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa has announced the returning of students to school and the resuming of international flights this month, though restricted to Samoan citizens travelling in for various purposes.

PM Mata’afa made the announcement on Monday night while advising of major changes to the current State of Emergency (SOE) Orders that lifted the ban on mass gatherings.

Cabinet approved the continuation of Level 2 (orange) for another two weeks effective on Tuesday midnight until 17 May, she said.

The Prime Minister said the amended SOE Orders were recommended by the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) and approved by the Cabinet at its meeting Monday.

The changes include reopening schools, amended business hours and plans to open Samoa’s international borders.

Mata’afa said critical to the opening of borders are current vaccination rates, amending quarantine requirements and opening of borders by Fiji, Australia and New Zealand for Samoa.

The amended SOE orders include:

*The National University of Samoa to resume classes as planned for early this month

*Secondary, Primary and Early Childhood Schools will gradually open in May upon Cabinet’s consideration of scheduled plan from Ministry of Education Sports and Culture on resumption of all schools

*Business opening hours are extended from 6am to 10pm from Monday to Saturday

*Curfew starts from 11pm to 6am the next day whereby only authorised personnel and vehicles are allowed on the road

*For Sundays, business hours start from 12pm to 10pm at night

*Public gatherings including church services are open but the public is encouraged to maintained social distancing, wearing facial mask and showing of vaccination masks

*Resume international flights from this month May, for all our citizens travelling to Samoa for various purposes and for all those contracted to work in Samoa

*Opening of international borders in August, September this year

The Prime Minister also confirmed the latest statistics on vaccination in the country.

*18 years and over have recorded 92.6 percent those have two doses

*12 to 17 years old recorded 86.6 percent those have two doses

*5 to 11 years old recorded 58.7 percent have had two doses

*A total of 70,439 have had their booster shots

Mata’afa noted the second dose for paediatric programme will commence this week with more vaccines donated by New Zealand. She added the Ministry of Health has predicted the virus to peak at the end of this month before the number of cases starts to fall.

SOURCE: SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS