2 establishments closed; 2 others temporarily closed


The Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force shut down two more establishments for alleged violation of the emergency directives and temporarily closed two gaming businesses for alleged failure to rectify reopening plan issues.

Speaking at yesterday’s radio news briefing, Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco Control Division director David Maratita said they shut down the Cheers Karaoke Bar in Garapan and Kool Laundry in Kagman 3.

Meanwhile, Saipan Vegas in Chalan Laulau and Club 88 in Garapan were temporarily closed.

Maratita also identified the two bars in Garapan that they were previously shut down as the Safehouse and Relax Bar.

Maratita said they inspected over the week 245 establishments and 154 were found in compliance with the directives, for a 63% compliance rate, and 85 establishments were deemed non-compliant. These 35% that were non-compliant were subsequently advised, educated, and warned to fix the varying infractions, which varied from lack of face shields or having no plexiglass in the counter area. Other infractions include deteriorated entrance and exit flow signs. Some of the establishments were not regularly sanitizing their door handles.

“We informed them that we are coming back. They have to immediately address those infractions because we are dealing with public health concerns,” he said.

With respect to Cheers Karaoke, Maratita said there was overcrowding in the bar area, there’s no maintenance of crowd control, and no maintenance of social distancing.

In addition, he said, the contract tracing logbook was not complete. Maratita said they even noticed that some characters of the television show Game of Thrones were listed in the logbook.

“It may sound funny, but this is not a joke,” he said, explaining that these instances means that they cannot do actual contact tracing once there is a positive case in that establishment.

In the case against Kool Laundry, he said it was unattended, nobody was there to maintain crowd control, and there was no evidence that they were regularly sanitizing the premises.

Maratita said the owners of these two establishments have already submitted their plan on what they will do to become compliant with the directives. He said they are working with them to become compliant by submitting their reopening mitigation measures, proposal, and plan on how to address those violations.

With respect to Saipan Vegas and Club 88, task force chief Warren Villagomez said when the emergency directive was issued, there was a requirement for an updated reopening plan as well as things that they see that need some mitigation.

He said the task force decided late Saturday evening to go over and consult with the management of the two companies to temporarily close business until the issues and documentations are updated and rectified.

Pertaining to Safehouse and Relax Bar, Villagomez said they are in close communication with both establishments to come up with reopening implementation, new measures, protective measures, and safeguard within their facilities.

He said the two came up with a plan that the task force is now evaluating. Villagomez said that, after a thorough evaluation, they are going to share it with their reopening team, Bureau of Environmental Health, Department of Public Works, and ABTC.

“Yes, this weekend was quite busy for the enforcement team. They were out, not only shutting down but also [conducting] education as well all through the weekend and yesterday,” Villagomez said.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said they want every business to be in compliance. He emphasized that the whole purpose of the task force’s inspections is not to shut down businesses but to educate them on how they can operate safely.

“I want to thank the community for doing well in the transition,” Torres said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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