Memo – Amendments to the CNMI COVID-19 Emergency Directives of 2020, establishing the CNMI COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Rating System; moving CNMI to community vulnerability level YELLOW

DATE:             May 25, 2020

FROM:           Special Assistant for Homeland Security & Emergency Management

                        Chief Executive Officer, Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation

TO:                  All Department and Activity Heads and Members of the Public

SUBJECT:      Amendments to the CNMI COVID-19 Emergency Directives of 2020, establishing the CNMI COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Rating System; moving CNMI to community vulnerability level YELLOW

WHEREAS, since the promulgation of Executive Order 2020-01 on January 29th 2020 which declared a State of Significant Emergency throughout the Commonwealth and established response, quarantine, and preventive containment measures with regard to the Coronavirus (“COVID-19”), Governor Ralph DLG. Torres’ administration has implemented strict but necessary constraints on commercial activities throughout the Commonwealth in an effort to avert and mitigate the spread of the disease throughout our community; and

WHEREAS, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) forecasted that initial peak infection numbers for the Commonwealth would occur in May 2020; and 

WHEREAS, due in large part to the quick implementation of these stringent risk mitigation measures by the CNMI government and the community, the CNMI has effectively flattened the peak of this curve, pushing the zenith outward toward June 2020; and

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth now has the ability and resources to mobilize community-based COVID-19 testing and provide critical data information concerning the CNMI’s state of infection of the Coronavirus; and

WHEREAS, along with the rest of the nation and the world, the administration seeks to begin the administering of cautious and responsible transition measures that will allow for the regaining of a sense of normalcy for our community along with the critical recovery of our economy in the forecasted downturn of the spread while ensuring that protections against further outbreaks and future threats are put in place; and

WHEREAS, in implementing these transition measures, Governor Torres’ economic recovery team has created a framework for the resumption of domestic activity in the Commonwealth in a manner that is cognizant of existing and impending community concerns regarding COVID-19; and 

WHEREAS, the CNMI COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Rating System builds upon the strength of our community through encouraging its active participation and collaboration with the CNMI government and CHCC in our goal to maximize strong community networks and organizations to promote community-based testing, enhance situational awareness of the extent of the illness throughout the population, provide mechanisms to ensure consumer confidence in the safety of commercial establishments, create a clear and achievable roadmap for the alleviation of restrictions for the community to collaboratively work towards, and fight the stigma against positive and suspected COVID-19 cases and promotes solidarity among the general population; and 

WHEREAS, in using the CNMI’s unique opportunity to perform community-based testing for the COVID-19 virus throughout our islands, economic recovery can be predicated on testing benchmarks that will ensure the community’s awareness of the importance of testing, thereby generating more information and understanding of the CNMI’s infection status and to boost confidence in our domestic economy; and

WHEREAS, graduated cumulative testing brackets have been designed to allow for the alleviation of restrictions mandated under applicable Emergency Directives in phases based on a COVID-19 Rating system for which these restrictions can be reviewed at the achievement of its respective benchmark and announced; and

WHEREAS, the activities permitted have been designed on a spectrum which can be scaled up or back based on the CNMI COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Rating System’s findings factoring testing rates over a period of 30 days and calculated daily, and taking into account hospital capacity, ICU admissions, mortality due to COVID-19, and regional outbreaks into rating determinations and overall decision-making processes administered by the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC) and the COVID-19 Task Force; and

WHEREAS, government departments and agencies shall correspond accordingly with this rating system in their daily office operations as well as in the performing their department or agency’s respective duties and responsibilities; and

WHEREAS, these rating determinations and changes shall be publicly announced on a regular and frequent basis to keep the community vigilant and informed as they continue to exercise caution for the threat of COVID-19 infections; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to the recent testing data collected by the CHCC and the COVID-19 Task Force we can now responsibly initiate the next phase in the implementation of this Phased Approach Plan of transition and economic recovery by moving from community vulnerability level RED to community vulnerability level YELLOW;

NOW, THEREFORE, we hereby direct that the following amendments be made to the existing COVID-19 Emergency Directives:

AMENDMENT(S) TO EMERGENCY DIRECTIVE 10:

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 25% of allowed occupancy (per DPW) and maintain social distancing and sanitation guidelines  

Non-contact recreational activities are also exempt and permitted under strict social distancing and sanitation guidelines. 

Guidance on these mandatory social distancing and sanitation implementations shall be sought from CHCC before these activities take place. These social distancing and sanitation measures must remain in implementation throughout the continued State of Significant Emergency and Public Health Emergency.

Persons should continue to practice social distancing at all times and are strongly encouraged to wear face masks outside the home.

AMENDMENT(S) TO EMERGENCY DIRECTIVE 14 

(a)   As authorized under 1 CMC § 2191(d)(2) and NMIAC 140- 10.3-340, and subject to the modifications and exceptions stated in section (b) of this Directive, all businesses that have facilities open to the general public shall only be open to the public from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Outside of those hours, businesses may operate but may not be open to the general public. Businesses may not conduct drop-off/pick-up and delivery services during the curfew hours set in Directive 16.

Businesses covered by this section must implement the following social distancing guidelines: Posting of “one-way” flow signs for entrance and “one-way” flow signs for exit; maintaining crowd control; availability of hand sanitizer station on entry and on exit; provide methods to ensure protective barriers between worker and customer (Ex: face shield, plexiglass barrier at customer counters); and ensuring there are visible customer lineup markers that are six feet apart leading to the cashier counter. Businesses must regularly and frequently clean all surfaces; sanitize main entrance door handles; sanitize handles of shopping baskets and shopping carts after each use; sanitize handles for chill boxes, cooler, and freezers.

Businesses covered by this section shall also limit occupancy to 50% in accordance with supplemental regulatory guidance set by the CHCC and the Department of Public Works (DPW) Building Code.

Businesses covered by this Directive are subject to verification by the Department of Commerce and assisted as necessary by agencies listed under (c). If, upon inspection by the Department of Commerce, it is determined that the business did not properly implement required social distance guidelines, then the business must immediately properly implement the guidelines. If the business is unable to properly implement the guidelines, then the business shall remain closed until it can and does in fact, properly implement the guidelines. 

(b)  Modifications and Exceptions: 

(1)  Restaurants may serve dine-in customers under social distancing parameters and at 25% of their originally permitted occupancy limit, in accordance with supplemental regulatory guidance from the CHCC. All other businesses that offer food or beverages, such as bars, must remain closed for on-premises consumption.

Businesses that offer food or beverages for consumption 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. Establishments offering food or beverages for take-out, including food trucks must ensure that they have an environment where patrons maintain adequate social distancing. Hotel restaurants may continue to provide room service and take-out. Catering services may continue.

Further, food establishments are encouraged to use outdoor dining space wherever possible, in accordance with established supplemental regulatory guidance from the CHCC and social distancing guidelines.

(2) All public parks including the Grotto are hereby closed to the public. Mañagaha Island is now open to public 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. 

(3) All public beaches and pathways are closed to all activities except for public use for 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 the social distancing requirements stated in these COVID-19 Emergency Directives. Provided further that exercise, wellness and shoreline subsistence and commercial fishing activities are only allowed from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily.

(4) CHCC, public and private health clinics, dental clinics and pharmacies are excepted from the hours stated in section (a) but may set hours that, in their judgment, best deal with the COVID-19 threat. Further, these facilities and businesses are encouraged to follow best social distancing practices for health facilities. 

(5) Gas stations may be open during the business hours set in section (a).

(6) All businesses engaged in gaming, including the casino, video poker establishments and e-gaming facilities, are hereby closed to the public. 

(7) All businesses engaged in recreational or amusement type activities not expressly excepted in these directives are hereby closed to the public. 

(8) Hotels, tour operators and tourism industry stakeholders may begin preparations for thermal monitoring and establish internal Standard Operating Procedures for mitigating risk in preparation for tourist arrivals alongside public health officials. 

(9) Preparations among tourism operators may continue in anticipation of the resumption of flights and guidance should be sought to Federal Officials on the steps necessary to resume international flights 

(c)   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, shall enforce this Directive. Failure to follow this Directive will subject the violator to penalties available under the law or to the following:

Penalties for violating Business Hours mandates:

1.     First-time offense violators will be subject to immediate closure of their business establishment for a period of one month;

2.     Second-time offense violators will be subject to immediate closure of their business establishment for a period of six months;

3.     Third-time or more offense violators will be subject to immediate closure of their business establishment for a period of one year.

Penalties for violating Business Social Distancing mandates:          

Businesses that do not comply with guidelines set forth may be subject to an immediate shutdown for up to thirty days or more until mitigation measures have been effectively implemented.

Establishments are strongly encouraged to enforce social distancing precautions and to promote the wearing of face masks by employees and patrons at all times. Further, all businesses are encouraged to set up appointments with the BEH and/or the COVID-19 taskforce for the approval and certification of their respective establishment’s meeting of implemented business mitigation measures and to publish their business’ certification outcomes to the public.

AMENDMENT(S) TO EMERGENCY DIRECTIVE 16:

DIRECTIVE 16: CURFEW.  

(a)   Pursuant to the authority granted under Executive Order 2020-04, as amended, and as renewed, 1 CMC § 20144(h)(4)(ii), 3 CMC § 2191(d)(2) and NMIAC § 140-10.3-340, no person, adult or minor, shall loiter or be present in, on or about any public streets, highways, roads, alleys, parks, public buildings, places of amusement and entertainment, or vacant lots and places within the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.  Violators will be subject to the penalties described in NMIAC § 140-10.3-401 or the penalties stated below in Section (d).

(b)  Exceptions to Curfew.  Section (a) shall not apply to law enforcement officers while in the performance of their official duties, DFEMS personnel while in performance of their official duties and other first responders while in the performance of their official duties.  Section (a) shall also not apply to any person who is lawfully employed during the hours specified, or is in the direct route of going to or returning from their place of employment. Section (a) shall also not apply to any person going to or returning from admission to the hospital or completion of medical treatment such as hemodialysis.

(c)   The Mayors of the municipalities may alter the hours, and the exceptions, as they deem necessary to accommodate local needs and conditions of their municipality.  However, these alterations shall not undermine the reasons for the curfew.

(d)  The Department of Public Safety, in coordination with and with the assistance of CHCC, the Department of Commerce, Alcohol Beverage & Tobacco Control Division, the Department of Fire & Emergency Medical Services, and any other necessary commonwealth agency, shall enforce this Directive. Failure to follow this Directive will subject the violator to the following:

Penalties for violating Curfew mandates:

1.     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;

2.     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;

3.     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;

4.     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;

·      and $300 for a third-time or more offense.

We continue to urge individuals to practice good hygiene, exercise social distancing at all times when not at home, and to wear face masks when in public, especially when feeling ill. Additionally, we encourage individuals and businesses to seek guidance regarding the implemented social distancing requirements from CHCC and/or the COVID-19 Task Force. Furthermore, we encourage members of the community to report any non-compliance of these Emergency Directives to CHCC and/or the COVID-19 Task Force.

These amendments will become effective on May 26, 2020.

/s/

ESTHER L. MUNA

Chief Executive Officer

Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation


/s/

GERALD J. DELEON GUERRERO

Special Assistant for Homeland Security & Emergency Management

CNMI Homeland Security & Emergency Management

Concurred by:

 /s/

RALPH DLG. TORRES

Governor

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