Rep. Luis John DLG Castro (R-Saipan) has joined the call for the new business hours to be revised, following Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ new directive permitting stores, particularly supermarkets, to operate and open their facilities to the public only from 6am to 1pm.
While acknowledging that it was a tough decision, Castro believes that it should be up to the businesses to decide how long they should make themselves available in order to ensure that CNMI residents will not act impulsively.
“As our man’amko’ say, ‘Hamyu mås tumungo,’ hence why I feel this should be looked at further and re-evaluated,” he said.
The new directive, according to Castro, has proven in the last two days that, although made in the interest of the community, it has given constituents and, most importantly, the businesses affected with “great difficulties.”
The legislator added that the limited hours are creating long lines getting into and out of stores, made trying to get goods needed to operate difficult due to the limited operational times and, more importantly, made large groups of residents congregate at a time where people are asked to keep distances from each other.
Castro also questioned why businesses were not consulted before the release of the new directive, following reports that representatives of government agencies have asked businesses their preferred times of limited hours.
“Though Guam is currently reeling with cases of COVID-19 continuously climbing with one death already, GovGuam in its declaration for social isolation exempted supermarkets and other businesses they felt needed to continue operating to provide services for the over 100,000 that call that island home,” he said.
As a COVID-19 preventive measure, the governor has ordered the reduction of business hours where facilities can be open to the general public beginning Tuesday, and where proper social distancing practices must be observed.
“What we’ve seen with disasters such as Yutu and Soudelor is that when resources are limited, panic gets triggered,” he said.
Castro further stated that though most people have maintained orderly conduct since the issuance of the directive, it has made people either worry about not being able to get what they can so they go back home to their families, or worry about potentially coming in contact with COVID-19.
“We are in tough times,” the legislator added, “but we can only get through times like these if there is cooperation from all ends, from our businesses who have been doing their part to work through this trying time, from our residents who are being as patient as they can with decisions made for their safety, and from the government who make those decisions.”
Castro also extended appreciation to all the work the government has done via the COVID-19 Task Force to safeguard the CNMI, and joined in appealing to everyone to continue practicing proper hygiene and social distancing, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“Tough as it may be, it’s the reality we’re in now. We just all have to be kind to each other, cooperate with one another, and ensure what is decided is best for all of us,” he added.