New grocery hours: 6am-6pm

Strict social distancing must be observed
Posted on Mar 30 2020

Grocery stores and retail establishments will now be open from 6am to 6pm.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres announced Saturday the expansion in the hours stores and retails establishments can operate, on the condition that social distancing is strictly implemented and observed in the facilities.

The new hours are an additional five hours to the 6am to 1pm original base hours set and implemented last Tuesday, which had people crowding stores to buy basic necessities. The extended store hours are meant to enforce even more stringent social distancing measures as everyone shops for goods and produce.

“Effective tomorrow, March 28, hours for store and retail establishments will be from 6am to 6pm,” the governor said in a press briefing last night at the Commonwealth Health Center. “Stores will be mandated to implement strict social distancing as a condition for operating under these new hours. Again, we’re opening this time for our community, but citations and enforcement is forthcoming for any establishment that does not fulfill the social distancing of 6 feet.”
Stores must post “one-way” flow signs for entrance and “one-way” flow signs for exit, maintain crowd control, and ensure there are visible customer line-up markers that are 6 feet apart leading to the cashier counter.

Retail establishments must regularly and frequently clean all surfaces; sanitize main entrance door handles; sanitize handles of shopping baskets and shopping carts; and sanitize handles for chill boxes, coolers, and freezers.

One of the legislators who called for the store hours to be extended, Rep. Tina Sablan (Ind-Saipan), appeals to the community to plan shopping trips, buy only what one needs, and to be considerate of others. “When you do go out, please practice social distancing, use your sanitizers, and be extra kind and courteous to each other and to the store employees who are providing an essential service for us all,” she added.

Grocery stores must also limit their capacity within their facilities to 50% of their permitted occupancy, as set by the Department of Public Works Building Code.

The Department of Commerce’s Alcohol, Beverage, and Tobacco Control Division, in coordination with the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and the Commonwealth Health Care Cor., will enforce the social distancing requirements at stores and retail establishments.

Stores and retail establishments that will fail to comply with the social distancing protocol will be closed until such time that all deficiencies have been corrected.

The governor set forth the new store hours, following the announcement of two positive COVID-19 cases last Saturday, the first in the CNMI.

Iva Maurin | Correspondent
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at
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