House members, economic task force discuss mitigation protocols

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REPRESENTATIVE Donald Manglona of Rota wanted to know if the Community Focused Recovery Plan presented by the Governor’s Economic Task Force to the House Standing Committee on Commerce and Tourism includes a provision on online gambling.

“Was there any discussion on online gambling in terms of being an alternative to these poker parlors that are shut down? I know that the online gaming bill is in the Senate, but it hasn’t been acted on. Is this something that the administration is looking at, or is it not really much of a priority?” he asked the task force members during a recent meeting.

Donald Manglona

Since April 1, poker establishments and similar places of business have been shut down by the governor’s Covid-19 directives.

In response to Manglona’s question, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna said, “One of the discussions in this economic recovery plan is to ensure that there is a monitoring system. The task force will be involved in making sure that business establishments follow guidance, and somebody checks on them.”

She said the task force will ensure that businesses are protecting their employees and customers.

Rep. Joseph Leepan Guerrero, for his part, highlighted the manpower needed to monitor business establishments.

“A number of front liners will have to be present just to monitor. I don’t know how that is going to be profitable for the establishment, in the sense that it’s going to be more costly for them,” he added.

The proposed economic recovery plan aims to gradually reopen the CNMI economy, with the main focus on the safety of both businesses and consumers.

“To me and to many who have communicated this, we need to put people before profits, and we need to do this safely, and we need to have as many mitigation measures on the ground,” said Northern Marianas Business Alliance Corp. Chairman Alex Sablan, who is also a member of the economic task force.

He reiterated that mitigation protocols will be in place when the economy reopens

“We need to get people back to work and our economy going again. We need to put confidence on the ground for our people and for our tourists so that they will be assured that we are relatively Covid-free.”

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