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American Samoa’s state of emergency extended through June 1

Code Blue graphic

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — With a Fourth Amended Declaration, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has extended for another 30-days the coronavirus state of emergency through June 1, with American Samoa remaining under Code Blue threat level.

“The Governor elected to maintain our current posture with regard to the declared restrictions aimed to prevent the entry and contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,” ASG’s coronavirus task force chairman, Iulogologo Joseph Pereira said today, Friday, in releasing the amended declaration, dated May 1st.

He said the governor’s decision was not made lightly but he continues to maintain his policy of "Erring on the Side of Caution".

Iulogologo pointed out that the situation in the mainland United States is still unsettled — and this includes Hawaii. “There is also serious discussions on the threat of a second wave if we accelerate the elimination of restrictions,” he said.

“The Governor is concerned because while we have not had a confirmed case, the fact that an asymptomatic carrier can still spread the virus, is worrisome thus his decision to extend our existing restrictions for an additional 30 days,” he said.

According to the task force chairman, the additional 30 days will give the Health Department and LBJ Tropical Medical Center the opportunity to implement the approved Testing Plan which has been started and will be increased depending on the availability of Test Kits.

He explained that the Testing Plan has been transmitted to FEMA Region IX administrator Robert Fenton — the designated Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in American Samoa — to secure the support and actualize the commitment made by US President Donald Trump that the Federal Government will provide sufficient testing supplies to allow States and Territories to fully implement their Testing regimens.

“At the end of these additional 30 days we will have compiled factual data upon which to make prudent decisions going forward,” Iulogologo said.

The extended declaration, reiterated social distancing protocol, closed all public and private schools, as well as public gatherings. And family gatherings are limited to fewer than 10 people.

The Hawaiian Airlines flight between Honolulu and Pago Pago remains suspended until June 1st. All flights between American Samoa and Samoa remain suspended. However, this restriction will continually be reviewed depending on the COVID-19 status of both American Samoa and Samoa.

All businesses’ operating hours remain restricted to 6a.m. to 6p.m and only those businesses that impact food security are exempted from operating hours’ restrictions. (Samoa News has already asked Iulogologo for further clarification on this provision, as the governor had issued an exemption for StarKist Samoa cannery and its supporting businesses.)

Restaurants and fast-food businesses are allowed to engage in food take-out orders until 10p.m. “Further advisories will be issued from the governor that may adjust restrictions on businesses as necessary,” the declaration states.

Public transportation also falls under business operation hours; except for buses under contract with StarKist to provide transportation for employees of the canneries. The amended declaration specifically points out that StarKist employees traveling on contract buses must wear masks.

Samoa News will update this online story as new developments occur over the weekend.