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Vessel and airport requests for entry returned to Port Administration

Lt. Governor Talauega E.V. Ale
Most COVID restrictions “pretty much already been lifted,” says Motusa

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — With COVID-19 emergency declarations no longer in place, COVID-19 Task Force chairman, Lt. Gov. Talauega E. V Ale says that any requests for entry into the territory from airlines or vessels should be directed to the Port Administration Department.

Talauega made the statement at last week’s task force briefing where one of the questions on the agenda was: “Are airlines allowed to schedule their own flights?” now that emergency declarations have ended.

During the period of the COVID emergency declarations, going back to the first-one issued in March 2020 by the Lolo Administration, the authority for approving air and sea carrier entries was placed with the Task Force with final approval from Talauega, who is also the Governor’s Authorized Representative (GAR).

The task force at its meeting last week, briefly discussed the scheduling of airlines and sea carriers and Health director Motusa Tuileama Nua says he believes this process is back to their normal scheduling control.

He said DoH and all supporting agencies stand ready for the flights and sea carriers including extra flights and sails.

Talauega, led the task force’s consensus that the review and approval for air and ocean carriers coming into the territory, including requests for added charters is to be returned to Port Administration.

Another question on the meeting agenda discussed at the meeting, “Are there any Covid restrictions that need to be removed?” — as all local restrictions as well as entry into the Territory have been removed, along with ending of COVID-19 declarations.

Talauega reiterated the question to task force members, “Are there any COVID restrictions that we’re still observing today that need to be removed?”

Motusa said that most of the COVID restrictions or related issues that impact the day-to-day lives of local people, have “pretty much already been lifted.”

He noted that the only area that public health is keeping an eye on is the seaport, for vessels coming in with sick crew. “So we have to make decisions on the ground by the medical team in regards to testing and transferring them to LBJ for treatment,” he said. “We will also support immigration on borders for people coming in.”

In addition, DoH is also keeping a watch on incoming flights.

DoH Clinical Service director, Dr. Elizabeth Lauvao asked if a letter of approval is still required for the transport of human remains to the territory, as this provision had been included in COVID emergency declarations. She suggested lifting this provision if it’s still a requirement.

Talauega responded that with emergency declarations ended, this requirement should no longer be in place.

Motusa pointed out that DoH had oversight of human remains entering or departing the territory prior to COVID restrictions. He explained that a senior medical officer at DoH signs off on a required form to allow the transport of human remains and this is also required for transporting remains out of the territory.

During the emergency declarations, the Governor was added on as necessary for additional and final approval, said Motusa, who noted that without the declarations, DoH resumes that oversight responsibility to carry out such functions.

Talauega agreed and noted that “everything that we used to do before COVID” returns and is still effective with no more emergency declarations.

See Samoa News edition last week Thursday and Friday for other issues covered during the task force briefing.