Governor Ralph DLG. Torres announced on Friday, August 21, 2020 that the CNMI COVID-19 Emergency Directives have been amended to temporarily reimplement restrictions on in-person interactions, social gatherings, and business hours to protect the health and safety of the people of the CNMI.
Since January, the Torres-Palacios administration through the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC) has implemented strict, but necessary constraints on activities throughout the Commonwealth in an effort to prevent and control the spread of coronavirus throughout our community.
Due in large part to the quick implementation of these risk mitigation measures, the continued success of the CNMI’s COVID-19 preventative measures at the borders, as well as the cooperation of the community in adhering to guidance from CNMI health officials, the CNMI has been able to contain community transmission.
On August 14, 2020, CHCC identified the CNMI’s 50th case of COVID-19 through a mandatory pre-operation screening for a scheduled surgery operation at the CHCC hospital.
CHCC had already initiated contact tracing for contacts of the 50th case, which led to the early identification of the CNMI’s 54th case of COVID-19, strongly suggesting community transmission.
CHCC contact tracing teams are actively questioning identified contacts, assessing exposure risk and testing as needed. In light of these new cases, the risk of community spread among residents, and significant increases on Guam, Governor Torres, the COVID-19 Task Force and CHCC have determined that the same protective measures, which successfully protected the Commonwealth since the beginning of the pandemic, must be reimplemented to prevent further spread of the virus.
The entire community is to be commended for washing their hands, wearing a mask, and watching their distance in public. However, now is the time to not let our guard down, which requires all CNMI residents to do their part.
“It is critically important that the people of the Commonwealth continue to remain vigilant and take personal responsibility to protect ourselves, our families, our friends, our man’amko, and our loved ones with preexisting illnesses from COVID-19 community spread. This is our number one priority right now,” said Governor Torres.
The following restrictions will become effective on Monday, August 24, 2020 through Sunday, September 6, 2020.
Gatherings of more than 10 people in a single room or single space are prohibited at the same time for social activities, including, but not limited to, community, civic, public leisure, or sporting events, parades, concerts, festivals, fiestas, conventions, fundraisers, and similar activities throughout the CNMI.
Church services must limit attendance to 50% of allowed occupancy and maintain social distancing and sanitation guidelines.
All businesses that have facilities open to the general public shall only be open to the public from 4:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
All businesses shall also limit occupancy to 50% in accordance with supplemental regulatory guidance set by the Department of Public Works (DPW) Building Code.
Restaurants and bars must continue to serve dine-in customers under social distancing parameters and at 50% of their originally permitted occupancy.
- In addition to social distancing, restaurants and bars must conduct temperature screening of all employees and patrons prior to entering the establishment. For patrons, establishments must document patrons’ name, phone number in a log which must be accessible to CNMI officials.
- Employees are required to wear facial coverings when providing service to the patrons and are included in the 50% occupancy limit.
- Patrons are also required to wear face masks whether dining inside or outside.
Gas stations are permitted to open only from 4:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
All businesses engaged in gaming, including the casino, video poker establishments, and e-gaming facilities, are hereby closed to the public, except if authorized to operate under an approved reopening plan by the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and CHCC.
The Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force, 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 and Emergency Medical Services, and any other necessary Commonwealth agency, shall enforce business hours and social distancing requirements. Failure to follow will subject the violator to penalties available under the law or to the following:
- First-time offense violators will be subject to immediate closure of their business establishment for a period up to one month;
- Second-time offense violators will be subject to immediate closure of their business establishment for a period up to six months;
- Third-time or more offense violators will be subject to immediate closure of their business establishment for a period up to one year.
All public parks, public pathways, and public beaches are open only for outdoor recreation for the purposes of exercise and wellness, both physical and mental, and shoreline subsistence fishing such as talåya, rod and reel, and commercial fishing activities, subject to social distancing requirements.
- Provided further that exercise, wellness and shoreline subsistence and commercial fishing activities are only allowed from 4:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily.
- Social gatherings at public parks, public pathways, and public beaches are prohibited.
- The Grotto remains closed.
- Mañagaha Island is open to public only for outdoor recreation, so long as social distancing requirements are implemented for both transport vessels and on-island activities.
- Transport vessels must be subject to constant and consistent disinfection. This section will be enforced by the Department of Public Lands.
To preserve the health and safety of students, families, teachers, administrators, and staff, all public and private schools in the Commonwealth shall remain closed for in-person instruction and activities until further notice.
School buildings, including administrative offices, shall be closed to the public, except for employees or contractors necessary to conduct operations, facilitate instruction, distribute materials and equipment, or perform other necessary in-person administrative or maintenance functions.
To provide continuity of learning, all schools, both public and private, across the Commonwealth, are permitted to facilitate alternative modes of education, such as distance learning through online means.
The CNMI Public School System, through its Special Education Program, may be permitted to allow in-person instruction for students with special needs subject to review and approval of operational plans and site assessment by the COVID-19 Task Force, Department of Public Works (DPW), and CHCC.
Upon lifting of the aforementioned closure, all schools, both public and private, across the Commonwealth, are permitted to open, subject to review and approval of reopening plans and site assessment by the COVID-19 Task Force, DPW, and CHCC.
Curfew Hours are now 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.
- Exceptions to Curfew Hours remain:
- First responders while in performance of their official duties and displaying a COVID-19 Task Force-issued badge
- Any person lawfully employed during the Curfew Hours or is in direct route of going to or returning from their place of employment
- Any person going to or returning from admission to the CHCC hospital or completion of treatment such as hemodialysis.
- Penalties for violating Curfew mandates
- First-time offense violators found in public, including individuals found driving on a public road, outside of the curfew hours will be subject to a fine of $200;
- Second-time offense violators found in public, including individuals found driving on public roads, outside of the curfew hours will be subject to a fine of $500;
- Third-time or more offense violators found in public, including individuals found driving on public roads, outside of the curfew hours will be subject to a fine of $750 and/or the impound of his/her vehicle by the Department of Public Safety;
- Each passenger in a vehicle found driving on a public road outside of the curfew hours will be subject to the following fines:
- $100 for a first-time offense;
- $200 for a second-time offense;
- $300 for a third-time or more offense.
The Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and CHCC continue to urge individuals to practice the Three W’s: Wash your hands. Watch your distance. Wear a face covering.
Individuals and businesses are encouraged to seek guidance regarding these protective measures. Please report any non-compliance of these directives to the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force at 237-8034, 8035, 8036, and 8037.
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