While businesses in the CNMI are cautiously opening one by one, T Galleria by Duty Free Saipan Ltd. in Garapan remains closed since March. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry around the world, including the CNMI, has grounded to a halt and DFS going back in business on Saipan is not an option in the foreseeable future.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a heavy toll on people and businesses around the world. On Saipan, we closed our stores in late March to protect the health of our employees and customers. We remain attentive to the lifting of restrictions by our government, and will assess when and how to open our stores depending on the business outlook,” said DFS Saipan president Marian Aldan-Pierce
Duty Free thrives in the tourism industry as one of their draws to travelers is the tax exemption from purchase of goods in any of the DFS shops. “Our business caters to traveling customers, and so we need to monitor both the health environment in each of our locations as well as the number of travelers returning to our stores before we decide to open… Some of our locations have reopened as visitor arrivals have picked up,” Aldan-Pierce added.
Immediate plans include shipping some of DFS Saipan’s inventory to Guam, non-renewal of their CW-1 workers, and keeping Hafa Adai Roasting Company that opened in February closed until T-Galleria re-open its doors.
For most employees, Aldan-Pierce said that they introduced new working arrangements. “This includes voluntary unpaid leave and voluntary adjusted hours to give employees more flexibility in balancing work and home responsibilities… DFS is proud of our long history on Saipan and our intention is to reopen when arrivals from our markets pick up.”
“We sincerely ask for our community’s understanding as we have had to take this tough but necessary action. We look forward to serving our customers again when the environment is more positive, and until then we hope everyone on Saipan stays healthy and safe,” Aldan-Pierce added.