Stricter quarantine for all travelers

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GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios met with cabinet members met on Saturday morning to discuss measures that can help prevent the potential spread of Covid-19 in the Commonwealth.

Among the topics discussed in detail were the “Grab & Go” meal distribution for children in the CNMI that is to take place beginning March 25, as well as the stricter quarantine measures that will take effect today, Monday, beginning at 8 a.m.

On Friday, Governor Torres said, “Covid-19 is spreading on Guam. Further discussions with CHCC indicate that, given CNMI’s resources, prevention and containment of Covid-19 would be best aided by having all persons entering into the CNMI quarantined in a more closely monitored environment than self-quarantining would provide.”

This includes placing travelers into facilities designated for quarantine. Travelers will be quarantined at a hotel facility and enrolled in the CHCC Covid-19 Text-Based Monitoring System, or TMS, and be subject to monitoring and follow up with CHCC based on surveillance protocols.

The most recent amendment to directive eight of Executive Order 2020-04 reads, “Effective March 23, 2020 at 8 a.m., all persons who are traveling into the CNMI, including CNMI residents, who originate from a country with an identified Covid-19 outbreak, inclusive of Guam, Hawaii, and the Continental United States, shall be quarantined for a consecutive 14-day period in a manner prescribed by CHCC.”

Travelers whose final destination is Rota or Tinian will also be subject to the same quarantine order and quarantined at the designated hotel facility.

Furthermore, pilots and flight crew who do not disembark will not be quarantined. Individuals with documented return flights within less than 14 days of arrival will be permitted to depart the CNMI. However, they will be quarantined at the designated hotel facility.

As for people entering the CNMI by vessel, they are required to first proceed to Saipan at the designated hotel facility prior to traveling on to Tinian, Rota, or any other island in the Commonwealth.

All who fail to comply with this quarantine protocol will be subject to arrest and confinement.

After the person successfully completes the 14-day quarantine period, CHCC will issue a document stating that the individual is asymptomatic, meaning that they do not have symptoms. This document must be presented to the airline or vessel when checking in for a flight or vessel to Tinian, Rota, or any other island in the Commonwealth. Those who were subject to this quarantine protocol and are without the CHCC-issued document will not be allowed to board the plane or vessel.

In a public message to the Commonwealth on Sunday, Governor Torres added, “This may be inconvenient for you, but please understand that this is to protect your family and your loved ones.”

He said, “This crisis is bigger than politics and bigger than ourselves. It is a challenging time for the Commonwealth, but I know that if we all work together, help each other out, practice proper hygiene, and promote social distancing, we can beat this virus. We will always be Marianas strong.”

On Saturday, Torres told cabinet members to strictly keep track of timesheets for employees who are activated to work as a result of the pandemic. “This does not include normal daily operations,” the governor said. Furthermore, he noted that regardless of the employee’s status, austerity or not, “If you are called to work on Covid-19, step up.”

Lt. Gov. Palacios said the pandemic “could not have come at a worse time,” adding that the administration was just beginning to roll out the new austerity measures. He encouraged everyone in the administration to do their part during this state of public health emergency.

The governor and the lt. governor stated that they, along with the governor’s Covid-19 task force, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, and local and federal partners, will continue to provide updates to the public in the coming days.

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