The CNMI remains under a State of Public Health Emergency, and continued Significant Emergency, following Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ issuance of Executive Order No. 2020-10 last Friday, May 15, extending the original emergency declaration to its fifth straight month, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order will remain in effect for 30 days or until June 2020.
Further, the CNMI Homeland Security & Emergency Management Office retains its authority to undertake measures to contain the pandemic, through the COVID-19 Task Force and with the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.
“COVID-19 continues to pose a significant and imminent threat of harm to the community, environment, and people of the CNMI and thus emergency declarations are necessary to respond, quarantine and ensure the prevention of or containment of COVID-19 in the CNMI,” the governor said, through the executive order.
To date, there are seven active cases on the island.
Torres first issued the emergency declaration last Jan. 29, as a proactive move to shield the CNMI from the threat of COVID-19, through quarantine and preventive containment measures. On March 16, the governor put the CNMI under a State of Public Health Emergency, following the first three confirmed positive cases in Guam.
“There is no confirmed treatment for COVID-19 other than quarantine, isolation, and containment. The potential pandemic impact of COVID-19 cannot be understated. Action is necessary to protect the health and safety of our children, our senior citizens, businesses, and all other CNMI residents and visitors,” the order states.
Under this extended emergency declaration, all memoranda, directives, waivers of regulations, and other measures taken in accordance with the previous executive order remain in place. This includes directives on social distancing, curfew, and the reopening of government offices.
While curfew hours have been shortened to seven hours—from 10pm to 5am—social distancing should still be strictly enforced. Penalties await people who will be caught violating both the curfew and social distancing mandates.
All are advised, under the social distancing mandate, to be at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart from each other in all public areas, such as in public beaches, pathways, and businesses. Exercise, wellness (including swimming), and subsistence fishing at public beaches and activity on pathways remain allowed.
The business mandate remains in effect too, where business operations are restricted to limit points of interactions between people, as part of the Commonwealth’s mitigating measures for COVID-19.
Customer lineup markers leading to a cashier counter or place of transaction must still be in place, “one-way” flow signs for entrances and exits should remain posted, flow of traffic must be controlled, and the number of customers within public facilities are still to be limited, at any time, to 50% of the permitted occupancy.
Restaurants and catering services are still not allowed to have dine-ins, but can, however, provide drive-thru, take-out, curbside pickup, and delivery services. Casinos, video poker establishments, and e-gaming facilities are to remain closed.
In an earlier interview, Torres said that by following the social distancing guidelines, “we can continue to keep our islands safe and protect our man’amko, our chronically ill, and our loved ones.”
While there are now 21 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the CNMI, the recent cases, identified through the community-based testing, are all found to be connected to the previous positive, now recovered, cases.