Cap on public gatherings removed, no HA flights in July

Governor Lolo Moliga has yet to sign the Sixth Amended Public Health Emergency declaration for COVID-19, copies of which were distributed at yesterday’s Coronavirus Task Force Meeting.

Based on what the governor announced at the meeting the most significant changes in the new declaration are the lifting of the cap on the number of people that are allowed for public gatherings which is currently 150, and  the suspension of flights to and form Hawaii for another 30 days.

Governor Lolo acknowledged the barrage of criticism over the suspension of Hawaii flights  in addition to between 10 and 20 letters that his office receives dally from people stuck off island who want the border with Hawaii opened up.

He said unless Hawaii’s coronavirus cases stabilizes or goes dow , this will not happen.  The governor said that Hawaii’s COVID- 19 cases have nearly reached 1,000 and the state has recorded one additional death.

He said the foremost responsibility of he and the lt. governor as leaders is to protect the lives of the people in the territory.  He also repeated that  our people who are in Hawaii and the mainland have access to many hospitals with enough medical staff to take care of them but if the disease reaches the territory no one has the knowledge to deal with it.  The governor said decisions are made based on the circumstances at hand and their decision as leaders is to keep the border with Hawaii closed.

The governor said  military flights and special flights are still available to take patients off island for medical treatment but for general travelers , he said, “while we sympathize with your plights, protecting the lives of our people here in the territory is our utmost responsibility and duty.”

The governor explained that 150 cap on public gatherings is now removed however social distancing must be maintained for all events and this includes campaign activities.  He referred to roadside waves held during last week where bodies were almost on top of each other.  He stressed that leaders and members of the Task Force should set the example and follow the rules.

Based on what the governor stated at yesterday’s meeting which was aired on KVXK-TV last night.  there’s no change for business hours of operations in the new emergency declaration. The hours are 5 am to 9 pm.

Another change is that all ASG employees will return to working a full 8 hour day, 40-hour week schedule.

The repatriation flights from Samoa are set to end June 30th and according to the governor  for  the next two weeks the Task Force will receive for review  requests for  foreign workers with specialized skills such as engineers and doctors.  He said  that only applications for workers from neighboring countries like Samoa and  Fiji will be accepted.  Lolo specified that only applications from countries which do not have coronavirus cases will be accepted.

Governor Lolo also informed the meeting of his discussions with the Samoa Prime Minister for the Lady Naomi to bring taro and other agricultural produce  to the territory.  This will strictly be for cargo only and no passengers.

The Samoa Shipping Corporation announced in Samoa over the weekend that the sailings to Pago Pago will start this Thursday.