COVID-19 Public Guidance: CNMI now on Community Vulnerability Level YELLOW

In line with approved guidance by the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC) and community-based testing data by the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force, Governor Ralph DLG. Torres announced on Monday that the CNMI can now responsibly initiate the next phase in the implementation of its Economic Recovery Plan from Community Vulnerability Level “RED” to “YELLOW.”

In Community Vulnerability Level “YELLOW,” testing has become widespread, but efforts to promote testing among community organizations, businesses and households continues. “YELLOW” represents the midway point of phasing schedule and creates the opportunity to assess the levels of positive cases for possible reversion of restrictions if positive cases exceeds previously stated thresholds. If present forecasts for testing remain stable, “YELLOW” would align with the peak number of cases under current FEMA and CDC estimates.

Under the CNMI Economic Recovery Plan, Community Vulnerability Level “YELLOW” means:

·      All businesses that have facilities open to the general public are now open from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

o   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.

o   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.

o   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.

·      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.

o   All other businesses that offer food or beverages, such as bars, must remain closed for on-premises consumption.

o   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.

·      Curfew Hours are now 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.

o   Exceptions to Curfew Hours remains:

§  First responders while in performance of their official duties

§  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 hospital or completion of treatment such as hemodialysis.

·      Church and worship services can commence, but must limit attendance to 25% of allowed occupancy and maintain social distancing and sanitation guidelines.

·      Gyms are permitted to open. Non-contact recreational activities (such as exercise activities in gyms) are permitted under strict social distancing and sanitation guidelines.

·      All public parks including the Grotto remain 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.  

·      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.

o   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.

·      All businesses engaged in recreational or amusement type activities and gaming, including the casino, video poker establishments and e-gaming facilities, remain closed to the public. 

·      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. 

·      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 

For more information, please refer to the CNMI Economic Recovery Plan or the latest amendments to the CNMI COVID-19 Emergency Directives of 2020 at

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Torres-Palacios Administration Set on Streamlining and Modernizing Permitting Process

In an effort to address what is often a cumbersome and, sometimes, lengthy permitting process for businesses and investors, Governor Ralph DLG. Torres and Lt. Governor Arnold I. Palacios have prioritized a complete review and revamp of the process with the goal of creating a more understandable and easier way to do business in the CNMI.

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