Memo – Amendments to the CNMI COVID-19 Emergency Directives reimplementing restrictions on in-person interactions, social gatherings, and business hours to protect the health and safety of the people of the CNMI

DATE:             August 21, 2020

FROM:           Chief Executive Officer, Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation

                        Special Assistant for Homeland Security & Emergency Management

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

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

WHEREAS, 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; and 

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth has successfully mobilized community-based COVID-19 testing, resulting in the testing of 12,681 people or 24 percent of the CNMI’s population on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota; and

WHEREAS, along with the rest of the nation and the world, the CNMI Government has administered the 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, due to the continued success of our COVID-19 preventative measures at the borders, as well as the cooperation of our community in adhering to guidance from our health officials, the Commonwealth has remained safe from the spread of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, on August 14, 2020, the COVID-19 Task Force and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (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; and

WHEREAS, 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; and

WHEREAS, 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; and

WHEREAS, 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; and

WHEREAS, ensuring effective protection of the CNMI requires the reimplementation of restrictions on in-person interactions, social gatherings, and business hours to lower the risk of contact and to protect the health and safety of the CNMI.

NOW, THEREFORE, we hereby direct that the following amendments be made to the existing CNMI 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 50% of allowed occupancy and maintain social distancing and sanitation guidelines.

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 4:00 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, plexi-glass 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)  All businesses that offer food or beverages for on-premises consumption, including bars and restaurants, must serve dine-in customers under social distancing parameters and at 50% of their originally permitted occupancy limit, in accordance with supplemental regulatory guidance from the CHCC Bureau of Environmental Health (BEH). In addition to social distancing, restaurants and bars must do temperature screening of all employees and patrons prior to entering the establishment.  Employees are required to wear facial coverings when providing service to the patrons and are included in the 50% occupancy limit. 

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-thru, and curbside 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.

Furthermore, food establishments are highly encouraged to use outdoor dining space wherever possible, in accordance with established supplemental regulatory guidance from the CHCC Bureau of Environmental Health (BEH) and social distancing guidelines.

(2) 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 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 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 so long as social distancing requirements under Directive 10 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) 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. 

(4) Gas stations are subject to the hours stated in section (a).

(5) 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 COVID-19 Task Force and CHCC.

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

(c)   The 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 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 up to one month;

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

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

Penalties for violating Business Social Distancing mandates:          

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

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

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

Establishments are strongly encouraged to enforce social distancing precautions and to promote the wearing of face masks by employees and customers at all times. Further, all businesses are encouraged to set up appointments with CHCC and/or the COVID-19 Task Force for the 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 15:

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.

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 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 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, COVID-19 Task Force and CHCC personnel 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 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 Monday, August 24, 2020 through Sunday, September 6, 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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