The Commonwealth Ports Authority is ready for the reopening of CNMI borders to international flights by July 15, but CPA board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds bluntly replied, “Who would want to spend their vacation being quarantined?” when asked whether tourists would come in then.
Just as CNMI residents are concerned about potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus, so are tourists, she said yesterday.
“This is a global pandemic that will probably continue to have chilling impact on the travel industry until such time that there is a vaccine or a testing infrastructure,” King-Hinds said in response to Saipan Tribune’s request for comments about Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport’s reopening to international flights.
She assured, though, that the CPA team is working hard to implement mitigation measure to ensure the safety of its employees and the traveling public. “CPA will be as ready as we can be,” she said.
Right now, all arriving passengers are immediately whisked off to the quarantine site at the Pacific Islands Club Saipan for the mandatory quarantine. After five days, these passengers have the option to be tested for COVID-19. If they are found negative, they are then released. If they opt not to be tested, they will stay at PIC for the entire 14-day quarantine period.
This may change, though, once the CNMI borders are reopened and it was earlier hinted that a new quarantine procedure will be put in place in the CNMI. But if the current protocol is not revised, that means all arriving tourists will undergo quarantine in the CNMI, be released for their short vacation here, then go back to their home countries where there are also similar quarantine procedures.
At the CPA board committees’ meeting last June 3, King-Hinds and CPA executive director Christopher S. Tenorio disclosed an action plan to implement certain public health precautionary measures in anticipation of the July 15 reopening of the CNMI to international flights.
King-Hinds said their airport action plan is not just for employees but for the traveling public as well.
CPA is installing plexiglass dividers, ensuring they have disinfecting process on a regular basis, and providing hand sanitization, among other measures.
Other measures include ensuring that people who are coming through the airport practice social distancing.
Tenorio disclosed that the CPA team already has a mitigation action plan, the draft of which they have provided to board members. “We’re actually doing everything to start preparing for the flights for the July 15 arrivals,” he said.
Tenorio also disclosed that the Federal Aviation Administration will be providing face masks to all CNMI airports—24,500 pieces for Saipan, 5,000 for Tinian, and 2,500 for Rota.