Samoa to open international borders later this year

Wilson Longhurst
Source: 1News

After more than two years of strict border closures, Samoa has announced it'll open up to the world in August or September this year.

Beach in Samoa.

In a special address to the nation on Monday night, Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa said rising Covid-19 vaccination rates were part of the decision.

From this month, overseas Samoan citizens will be able to travel home "for various purposes", as well as those contracted to work there.

"Critical to this decision are the current rates of our vaccination program, amendments to quarantine conditions and the opening of borders of our neighbouring countries, like Australia and Fiji as well as New Zealand," she said.

Samoa Tourism has welcomed the announcement.

Since mid-March, Samoa has been fighting its first major Covid-19 outbreak since the pandemic began. The country has reported 9,592 cases and 19 deaths, including three so far this week.

"The severe symptoms of the virus have been felt all over the world and have resulted in hospitalisation and deaths; we have experienced similar outcomes in Samoa," Mataʻafa said.

Almost 93% of Samoans aged 18 and over have had two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, but booster numbers are lower.

For 12 to17-year-olds, more than 86% have had two doses, while the 5 to 11 bracket is 58.7% covered.

The campaign to get the youngest eligible age group a second dose will continue this week with more of the paediatric vaccine arriving in the country from New Zealand over the weekend.

In an address from Apia, the Prime Minister announced an easing of local Covid restrictions, including the resumption of teaching in schools and an extension of business hours.