Repurposing TALOFAPass and no vax requirement set for Nov. 15
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — ASG’s online safe travel portal, TALOFAPass will no longer be used to register for pre-approved entry to American Samoa effective Nov. 15, but will be used to upload required health forms for travelers.
Additionally, the mandatory COVID fully vaccination requirement will also be eliminated on Nov. 15, while the COVID-19 Task Force has recommended to the governor that American Samoa’s borders be officially reopened to pre-pandemic status at the beginning of December this year.
Under the governor’s current COVID-19 Emergency Declaration, which expires Nov. 15, travelers to American Samoa are still required to register on the TALOFAPass web system to enter the territory and must be fully COVID-19 vaccinated — for travelers 5 years and older.
After deliberations of the medical community, the Department of Health had recommended removal of pre-travel requirements and the vaccination mandate — both processes done on TALOFAPass.
And it has been renamed the TALOFAPass traveler/ declaration system, where the DoH Health Declaration Form, which asks the traveler to declare whether or not he/ she is sick or been exposed to a communicable disease is uploaded. The form is to be completed 24-hours before travel, with DoH providing communicable disease surveillance.
In an address aired Tuesday night on KVZK-TV, Gov. Lemanu P.S. Mauga officially announced that TALOFAPass will no longer be used for pre-approved entry into the territory, effective Nov. 15, but it will still be utilized for checking and verifying health forms and other information for travelers entering the territory.
The governor also mentioned that effective Nov. 15, the mandatory vaccination will no longer be required for travelers.
TALOFAPass use and removal of the vaccination mandate was the subject of discussion Tuesday during the weekly meeting of the COVID-19 Task Force.
Health director Motusa Tuileama Nua is quoted in a task force news release from the meeting saying that “despite the downsizing of the COVID-19 entry requirements on the TALOFAPass system, this (COVID-19) won't be the last communicable disease. We still have to be prepared for the future.”
Lt. Gov. Talauega E. V. Ale, chairman of the task force, informed the meeting that at least 10 states in the U.S are still operating under an Emergency Declaration and that the federal government has extended the Public Health Emergency until at least January 2023.
He pointed out that the task force’s work “has always been guided by science and what the Department of Health has recommended to prevent and respond to the virus.”
Talauega, who is also the Governor’s Authorized Representative (GAR), directed leadership and relevant staff to begin the revisions and updates to the current TALOFAPass system’s function. Once updates are completed, the COVID-19 policy changes will be reflected in the governor’s new emergency declaration.
The Task Force announced that Nov. 15, the Governor's Emergency Declaration would no longer require approval from the DoH and Legal Affairs Department on TALOFAPass as a prerequisite for entry into American Samoa.
Further, a recommendation by DOH to remove the vaccination mandate has been approved by the Governor and will go into effect with the issuance of the new Emergency declaration ahead of Hawaiian Airlines’ flight on Nov. 17.
Once in effect, travelers will find most COVID-19 related questions removed from the system and instead find a brief health questionnaire. This will allow DOH to continue monitoring the health status of incoming passengers in the event of future outbreaks.
Travelers that aren’t able to complete the health questionnaire online will not be prevented from entry into American Samoa but will be required to fill out the brief health survey upon arrival.
According to the task force statement, airline or ocean carriers will have the right to deny boarding to any traveler who does not meet immigration requirements.
“TalofaPass was a successful IT solution in response to lessons learned from the repatriation and quarantine period and has always been part of a larger vision of the Lemanu-Talauega administration,” Talauega pointed out.
“This vision and transition includes moving the American Samoa Government away from fragmented manual processes toward e-government and a more streamlined, paperless system,” he said.
He acknowledges that in spite of challenges and areas for improvement along the way, the TALOFAPass served its intended purpose in regard to travel during COVID.
Further, it has reinforced the need for government agencies to collect better data, foster collaboration between departments, and to improve the experience for returning residents and visitors to the Territory.
Additionally, the Lemanu-Talauega Administration intends to continue building upon the capabilities and functions of the system.
And the task force “has recommended to the Governor that borders to American Samoa be officially reopened to pre-pandemic status on December 1, 2022,” according to the news release.