Samoa authorities investigate alleged breach of State of Emergency Orders

The National Emergency Operations Centre is awaiting an Incident Report into allegations that some passengers on a repatriation flight travelled to Samoa to attend a funeral.

The report will determine whether there are sufficient grounds to refer the alleged breach of the State of Emergency (SOE) Orders to Police for the appropriate criminal action.

The SOE prohibits any person returning to Samoa for personal reasons and it is compulsory for them to file a formal request in writing with the appropriate local officials for authorization to do, a Government release said.

“None of the 73 passengers on that flight had applied to N.E.O.C. or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for permission to travel to Samoa to attend a funeral or any other personal obligation,” said NEOC Chairman Agafili Tomaimanō Shem Leo in a press conference this week.

“This is the first time we have received information that some passengers on that flight had breached the SOE by travelling to Samoa to attend a funeral. It’s a blatant and deliberate violation of the SOE Orders.”

If proven, that some passengers from Brisbane, Australia allegedly breached the Covid-19 State of Emergency Orders by deliberately failing to declare and/or request Government for permission to come to Samoa for personal matters, (e.g. funeral) they are liable to face criminal charges, pay a fine of not less than $2,000 tala or both.

Twenty-one passengers from the Brisbane flight and five nurses who have been caring for them have tested positive for Covid-19.

Samoa remains on lockdown which is scheduled to end at 6pm (local time) on Thursday.


Photo screenshot  Government Press  Caption: NEOC Chairman Agafili Tomaimanō Shem Leo (right) at the press conference this week.