Businesses now required to amend operation hours

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GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres on Monday issued a new directive stating that effective March 24, 2020, “all businesses that have facilities open to the general public shall be open to the public from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.”

The 14th directive is part of the Torres-Palacios administration’s Amended Executive Order 2020-04, which declared a state of public health emergency and a continuing state of significant emergency for the Commonwealth.

The governor stated that it would be best to decrease the amount of points of interaction and contact the population will have with each other. “In this way, a person infected with Covid-19 will have fewer chances to infect other persons,” he said.

This new directive applies to “businesses engaged in gaming such as the casino, video poker establishments, and e-gaming facilities,” but it also includes modifications and exceptions.

According to the directive, “All businesses that offer food or beverages for on premises consumption — including restaurants and bars — must suspend services and may not permit on-premises consumption. Such businesses are permitted and encouraged to serve food and beverages so that they may be consumed off-premises through means such as in-house delivery, third-party delivery, drive through, and curb-side pick-up.”

In addition, “Customers may enter the premises to purchase food or beverages for take-out. However, establishments offering food or beverages for take-out, including food trucks, must ensure that they have an environment where patrons maintain adequate social distancing. Businesses located in the airports or hospital are exempt from this directive. Hotel restaurants may continue to provide room service and take-out. Catering services may continue.”

The directive states that all public parks, including Managaha and the Grotto, are closed to the public.

Moreover, public gatherings on beaches that are not public parks are not permitted “except that individuals, couples and their children may exercise or recreate on the beach.”

In addition, Laundromats, dry-cleaners and laundry service providers may conduct drop-off/pick-up service “outside” the mandated hours.

The directive stated that “gas stations may remain open and set their own hours, but only for the dispensing of gasoline. If the station has a convenience store, then that store may not be open before or after the hours of 6 a.m. and 1 p.m.”

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., public and private health clinics, dental clinics, and pharmacies are excepted from the required amended hours, “but may set hours that, in their judgment, best deal with the Covid-19 threat.”

Some businesses, such as the Joeten stores, have already notified the community of their amended business hours and their enforcement of social distancing practices following the governor’s new directive.

The administration continues to encourage businesses to follow social distancing practices when open to the public.

In a statement, the administration said CHCC, in coordination with and with the assistance of the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Commerce, Alcohol Beverage & Tobacco Control Division, the Department of Fire & Emergency Medical Services, and any other necessary commonwealth agency, will enforce the directive.

“Violators of this enhanced social distancing directive will be subject to penalties available under the law.

According to the governor, “Our government has already taken unprecedented steps to protect our families, our loved ones, our manamko’, and our sick. We have already established mandatory quarantine for all incoming travelers, including returning residents and requested FEMA’s help and federal assistance, while working to get more federal help on the way. We also were approved for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans for businesses struggling because of the virus. We are asking everyone in the Marianas to take this seriously. I know that if we all work together, help each other out, practice proper hygiene, and promote social distancing, we can beat this virus.”

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