NEOC Chairman clarifies SOE restrictions on Talofa FM


Chairman of the National Emergency Committee, Agafili Shem Leo has clarified a number of issues on Talofa FM this morning, following a number of calls to Radio Polynesia on the restrictions, given it’s somewhat confusing.

This morning several vendors from the Fugalei market visited our Radio Polynesia stating the Fugalei market is closed despite an announcement by Prime Minister Fiame Naimo Mata’afa that fish and the markets are open between 8 am to 2 pm on the days stipulated under the lockdown.

Agafili reconfirmed the markets are supposed to be opened but like all the other businesses it’s only between 8 am to 2 pm.

But the vendors told Radio Polynesia the market will not open during the lockdown, despite the announcement from the Prime Minister. Efforts were made to get comments directly from the Accidental Compensation Corporation, CEO Muliagatele Makerita Matafeo that oversees the market, but were unsuccessful as of press time.

Public transportation is banned under level 3 restrictions, such as busses and taxis; as well as the ferry to Savaii. The only service between Upolu and Savaii are cargo and transportation of medical staff and frontliners.

Adding that only banks and money transfers including the supermarkets and small shops are also open.

He also used the opportunity to remind the elderly population receiving their pension checks this week, they are the vulnerable population and advises against them going to public places but to send their children to cash out their pension funds.

The NEOC chairman also urged the public not to panic but please remain at home for their safety and protection.

He also appealed to the public to use the zones designated within the respective districts, as part of Alert level 3, which has been activated for Samoa.

A statement issued by the NEOC over the weekend, says these zones were strategically developed to help contain the spread of the virus in the community and to assist with mobilizing services during a nationwide lockdown.

There are eight zones in Upolu and five in Savaii.

According to the statement issued by the National Emergency Operations Committee, as part of the Government’s COVID-19 national plan.

The zones’ features include hospitals, and services such as shops, gas stations, supermarkets, pharmacies, police and fire stations, and ATMs and Banks.

“The purpose for zoning during a nationwide lockdown is to encourage people to use services that are available nearby their homes and villages, to avoid congestion in urban areas, and to limit contact and exposure.

Minister of Police and Prisons, Faualo Harry Schuster told Radio Polynesia the Police will be strictly enforcing the zoning policy and the Police will not hesitate to issue citations as mandated under the law when people cross over from their designated zones.

“The main purpose is to eliminate congestion of the public in one place as this is one way to contain the spread of the COVID,” said the Minister.

The statement says the COVID-19 virus is clinically proven to be infectious and highly transmissible, especially when people congregate and contact.

“Limiting contact and people’s movements will help slow and contain the spread of the virus. Zoning, therefore, encourages the public to access services available in their zones, rather than travelling to urban areas to access the same services.

In the event that relevant services are not available in a zone, such as emergencies requiring transfer to the main hospitals in Upolu and Savaii, banks and pharmacies to name a few, the SOE Orders can accommodate such requests in order to save lives.”