Covid 19: Samoa drops all pre-travel testing and announces full opening of international borders

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is greeted by Samoan Deputy Prime Minister Tuala Ponifasio at Faleolo International Airport in August. Photo / Vaimoana Mase

Samoa has dropped all Covid-19 related travel restrictions – announcing the full opening of its international borders.

Deputy Prime Minister Tuala Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio made the announcement this morning after a Cabinet meeting resulted in the decision.

“The Cabinet, in its meeting…decided to remove all related restrictions and conditions from its current travel advisory to allow its borders to be fully open.

“These include removing the mandatory PCR or [Rapid Antigen Test] results for Covid-19 as criteria for travel to Samoa.”

The new rules also mean that people who need to travel to Samoa will no longer need to present evidence of full Covid vaccination – such as vaccination cards or other documents – upon arrival, Tuala said.

There will also no longer be testing of travelers landing at Faleolo International Airport or any other point of entry into Samoa – namely those arriving from neighboring American Samoa.

Passengers will not have to complete health cards on arrival at the airport and penalties and related fees for any false declaration have also been eliminated; just like the application of wearing a mask at the airport.

Cabinet’s decision to remove travel restrictions was taken in accordance with advice from the Department of Health and analysis of available information, Tuala said.

The announcement comes as Samoa remained one of the few countries in the Pacific region to maintain strict rules around its borders and travelers entering the country; despite confirmation of community transmission of Covid from March.

Up to $120 for RAT Test Travel Certificate

Samoa required travelers to take a supervised RAT test at a medical center within 24 hours of travel – a cost of between $30 and $120, according to various medical clinics in New Zealand.

A family told the Herald they were shocked to have to pay for three travel authorization certificates for RAT tests at $120 each before flying to Samoa from Auckland last week.

This cost included a test for their daughter of primary school age.

“There were a few of us – old people too. We had to wait impatiently for 15 minutes for results and paperwork and we were trying to close registration at 7.30am.”

The family was tested at a 24-hour clinic in Greenlane.

Samoa’s strict rules had given rise to complaints from some travellers; with reports of people being sent back on a plane to Auckland or Fiji because they failed to print the documents needed to enter the country.

The island nation detected its first community Covid case on March 17 – sending the country into a sudden lockdown.

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