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PACIFIC NEWS: Woman 'shocked' by physical distancing issues on Air New Zealand

Passengers were "jammed in like sardines"
compiled by staff

Auckland, NEW ZEALAND — An Auckland woman was "shocked" to find passengers seated closer than two meters together on a recent Air New Zealand flight, describing the lack of adherence to general physical distancing rules as "extraordinary".

A spokesperson for Air New Zealand, however, said the airline is "strictly following Ministry of Health and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines" and the flight was operating at 60 per cent of its capacity.

Christine, who did not want her surname published, said her Tuesday afternoon flight from Auckland to Wellington was busy.

While the middle seats were kept empty, passengers sat directly in front of, behind and across the aisle from one another, she said.

"I was really shocked. Really shocked given that the Government is saying we should stay at least two meters apart. We were jammed in like sardines. We had someone right in front of us and someone right behind us."

"Given the extreme lengths small businesses have to go to to be able to trade, it seems extraordinary that Air New Zealand can just ignore the government instructions of two-meter social distancing."

As passengers had booked their seats in advance, Christine said she couldn't "see what their excuse could be. There was ample opportunity to get the places prepared."

Passengers did not stick to physical distancing rules during boarding either, she said.

(Source: Stuff NZ)


Marcella Fitisone of American Samoa was recently initiated into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest and most selective all-discipline collegiate honor society. Fitisone was initiated at Louisiana State University Shreveport.

Fitisone is among approximately 30,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni to be initiated into Phi Kappa Phi each year. Membership is by invitation only and requires nomination and approval by a chapter.

Only the top 10 percent of seniors and 7.5 percent of juniors are eligible for membership. Graduate students in the top 10 percent of the number of candidates for graduate degrees may also qualify, as do faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction.

Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 under the leadership of undergraduate student Marcus L. Urann.

(Source: Phi Kappa Phi)


 Samoa Airways is currently in the process of negotiating an aircraft and is working to have that ready when borders open up again after COVID-19 travel restrictions.

An airline statement today said the airline will release a statement surrounding an aircraft once negotiations are complete.

The airline also clarified why their online bookings are still active. “Samoa Airways wishes to reiterate that commercial flights are up to the end of June.”

It said the decision will be reviewed again in May in consultation with the government and the airline is prepared to extend flight cancellations beyond June 2020 as a further precaution to protect Samoa from the spread of covid-19.

“Samoa Airways will continue to comply with government sanctioned flight bans and will also continue selling airline tickets from July 202O pending further restrictions the government of Samoa may put in place.

“All customers whose flights are affected from March thru to June are subject to waivers that are already in place.

“It is also important to note that aside from Samoa Airways other airlines also continue to sell their services to/from Apia on their own websites, some as early as June 2020.

“Samoa Airways continues to support our customers and keep them informed with up to date information regarding travel notices. It is for this reason why the official Samoa Airways website will remain active.”

(Source: Samoa Airlines media release)


A Representative in American Samoa's fono has rebuked Samoa's prime minister for calling the territory the source of drugs and illegal weapons.

Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, speaking on Radio 2AP, blamed returned American Samoan servicemen for illegal weapons and Iraqi currency discovered in a police raid in Faleatiu.

American Samoa's faipule, Vailoata Amituana'i, expressed disappointment at Tuila'epa's statements.

He told Monday's fono session that such strong accusations should not be made without evidence and questioned the honesty of officers carrying out the raid.

Vailoata reminded the House of senior Samoa officers having illegally run guns from the US territory on a police patrol boat.

The faipule said the Prime Minister should not point fingers at American Samoa and make baseless accusations but look at his own people.

He said every time the Samoa leader seeks help from American Samoa, the territory responds favourably, as with the measles epidemic.

"American Samoa supplied oxygen for Samoa and relaxed all entry requirements for their patrol vessel to come and go with supplies during the epidemic which killed 83 people, mostly children."

The Lawmaker said the PM's statements should receive a strong response from local leaders because other countries are watching and they may think what he's saying about American Samoa is true.

He said he will leave it to the House Speaker to discuss a response with the Senate President and Governor.

(Source: RNZ Pacific)


Cracks showed up within Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi solid control over his Human Rights Protection Party (HRRP) in a tense exchange with his Deputy in Parliament Tuesday.

Deputy Prime Minister, Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa expressed her reservations on the amendment to the Electoral Act on the residency for the voters. The amendment was later passed by parliament.

Fiamē said based on the PM’s statements in parliament earlier that gives prominence to Samoan customs, and laws that smell – namu Samoan, the amendment erodes on that very principle where voting based on the faa-matai recognizes the individual person’s identity as family and the family’s matai title.

She also referred to previous contentious points in the Electoral Act concerning voters who reside in Apia but have to go back to their villages and families in Savai’i and outlying villages to vote because of this very customary identity.

Fiamē, then requested the Committee that given there is time, to hold back their amendments.

This Prime Minister took the floor and asked why the Minster did not appear and give her views to the Committee before they reported to Parliament.

He emphasized that Samoa’s electoral laws have been amended after every general election because of anomalies that have made Samoa known for its “corrupt” electoral practices resulting in court petitions after every general election.

Tuilaepa then said what offended Fiamē, “it is usual that every time a law is brought forward, the devil is always around to break it.”

Fiamē calmly responded that her views were expressed freely and they should not be suppressed during the parliamentary debate.

“Tuilaepa, you have said it, do you think this is the devil standing here because I have expressed myself,” said Fiamē.

The PM was immediately on the floor, “There is something called the collective responsibility of Cabinet,” the PM told Parliament.

“Any of my Ministers who disagrees, has the chance to resign,” he said.

(Source: Talamua Online)


Hawaii Gov. David Ige said he has agreed with the state’s mayors to allow florists to sell flowers starting Friday, which will enable them to deliver bouquets on Mother’s Day.

Florists will be required to adhere to social distancing requirements to limit the spread of the coronavirus, including wearing masks, limiting the number of customers in stores and making hand sanitizer available.

The decision, announced late Monday, reverses an earlier announcement rescinding an exemption to the governor’s emergency rules that had been previously awarded to florists.

Some florists said not being allowed to deliver flowers for Mother’s Day could cost them tens of thousands of dollars.

Watanabe Floral in Honolulu planned to sell 1,000 arrangements via delivery without contact. The company said the state had told its management that Watanabe could sell flowers for one week only beginning May 4.

“The minute we got the exemption, we turned on our website to accept orders and within the first 48 hours we had 500 orders already,” said Monty Pereira, general manager of Watanabe Floral.

The company has experienced a 97% drop in sales since closing March 23.

“It’s going to be a very, very costly situation where, for some local florists, this could be the dagger where they cannot recover from this,” Pereira said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

(Source: Associated Press)


The World Health Organization (WHO) says New Zealand has been world-leading in its response to Covid-19.

But at the same time, a top official for the organization is warning against complacency.

Western Pacific incident manager Abdi Mahamud said the WHO had been particularly impressed with how the government had communicated, and how people had observed social restrictions.

“Our view of New Zealand's response has been one of the strongest in the world, and there's a lot that global communities can learn from the response,” he said.

“There are aspects of New Zealand's response can be easily replicated in all countries, regardless of geography and resources.”

But in response to the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's comment that New Zealand has eliminated the virus, Dr Mahamud warned the country must not become complacent.

“Elimination? Every country has a different connotation with [the word], but what we understand is that the prime minister means a reduction in the undetected chain of transmission in the community,” he said.

“But we have to be very cautious moving forward so we don't fall into a sense of 'we did it'.”

Mahamud said until a safe and effective vaccine was developed, some social distancing requirements must continue.

“We believe in the New Zealand government's strategy, that is based on science and evidence.”

He said on 7 May, Minister for Health David Clark would appear in the WHO's weekly videoconference to discuss the challenges New Zealand had faced

He also urged New Zealand to support Pacific nations, should there be significant outbreaks in those countries.

“We would like to request New Zealand support to other developing countries, particularly the Pacific Islands,” he said.

“There are Pacific nations with limited resources and fragile health systems, so the deployment of senior [health] officers and financial support,” he said.

(Source: RNZ Pacific/PacNews)