Shop owners Fined for Breaching Emergency Orders on Sunday

Lagi Keresoma

, Latest, Law

Vailoa shop owner Lama Stowers whose small shop was closed by police on Sunday and is complaining about the interpretation of the orders.

 

By Lagi Keresoma

 

APIA, SAMOA – 21 APRIL 2020:  Police have charged several shop owners for breaching part of the State Of Emergency orders by opening shops on Sunday.

The latest amendment to the Emergency orders allows small shops to open on Sunday but supermarkets only open from 3.00pm to 6.00pm.

Yesterday, several small shop owners turned up at the police main Police headquarters to complain as there is confusion with interpretation of the orders.

Lama Stowers, a small retail shop owner at Vailoa, Faleata was disappointed with the way police have acted and interpreted the order.

“My shop is not a super market yet police came around Sunday fined me and ordered that my shop be closed,” says Lama.

When asked why, she was told that her shop was a supermarket which under the SOE is not allowed to open on Sunday.

“I tried to reason with police and explained that my shop is not a supermarket, but they insisted to close it.”

One police officer said that any ‘walk-in-shop’ is a supermarket.

In trying to understand what ‘walk in-shop’ means, Stowers asked for an explanation and was told that “when a customer walks inside a shop, it’s a super market”

She said her shop does not have a counter to serve the people directly from inside as the main counter is inside the shop and the customer has to walk inside to be served.

Customers do not walk around looking for their goods because the shop is not laid out as a supermarket said Stowers.

She continued arguing her case with the police but was told to pay up or become a criminal.

“They threatened me, that if I do not pay within 24 hours, I will have a criminal record,” she said.

Armed with the SOE order issued last Friday, Lama said the SOE order is clear; both the Samoan and English versions do not have the words “walk in-shop” but specific orders for supermarket and for small shops to continue normal hours.

Another small shop owner who did not want to be named was also closed and fined by police on Sunday.

“Supermarkets are closed and this is an opportunity for small shops to gain, yet we are not allowed to,” he said.

The penalty for breaching such orders is $200 talā or an imprisonment term.

Talamua’s questions to Police regarding this matter have not been responded to as of publication time.