Covid 19: Samoa drops all pre-travel tests, announces full opening of international borders

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

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

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

“Cabinet, at its meeting…has decided to remove all restrictions and related conditions from its current travel advisory to allow for the full opening of its borders.

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

The new rules also mean that people due to travel to Samoa will no longer need to show evidence of full vaccination against Covid – such as vaccination cards or other documentation – on arrival, Tuala said.

There will also no longer be any testing of travelers touching down at Faleolo International Airport or any other port of entry into Samoa – namely those arriving from nearby American Samoa.

Passengers will not have to complete health arrival cards at the airport and the related penalties and fees for any false declarations have been dropped too? as is the enforcement of mask-wearing at the airport.

Cabinet’s decision to remove the travel restrictions was made as per advice from the Ministry of Health and analysis of available information, Tuala said.

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

Up to $120 for RAT test travel certificate

Samoa requires travelers to complete a supervised RAT test from a medical center within 24 hours of travel – a cost of between $30 to $120, depending on various medical clinics around New Zealand.

One family told the Herald they were shocked at having to pay for three RAT testing travel clearance certificates at $120 each before flying to Samoa from Auckland last week.

That cost included a test for their primary school-aged daughter.

“There were a few of us – some old men too. We had to wait anxiously for 15 minutes for results and paperwork and we were trying to make the closing of the check-in at 7.30am.”

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

Samoa’s strict rules had resulted in complaints from some travelers? with reports of people being put on a plane back to Auckland or Fiji because they had not printed out the necessary documentation required to enter the country.

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

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