Rep. Joseph “Lee Pan” T. Guerrero (R-Saipan) fears that, sooner or later, the Japan and Korean governments may decide to close their borders as to prevent the entry of the coronavirus outbreak.
He said this is not a remote possibility and the economic impact on the CNMI is going to be felt not just by government employees but also in the private sector.
Guerrero, who chairs the House Commerce and Tourism Committee, said in an interview Wednesday that a country does not want to send its people out if people are infected.
“Because you don’t know if they are carrying that virus. They are saying that it’s 14 days incubation period before anyone is detected,” he said.
China Eastern Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines, and Hong Kong Express have already suspended or cancelled flights to Saipan due to the virus outbreak.
Guerrero said the CNMI government is not the only one that will feel the impact and that even the private sector will probably be adjusting the work hours of its employees.
“As a community we need to figure out how to brace for the storm,” said the lawmaker, adding that the business community is going to feel the pinch because the hotels’ main clients are tourists and that is going to spill to other areas of the private sector.
Guerrero is just hoping that the coronavirus outbreak won’t reach the CNMI because that would be devastating for a small community. “You can’t compare yourself to big countries where they have a big population,” he added. “We’re so fortunate and lucky that we don’t have it here. It would affect the CNMI entirely from an economic standpoint. Because our only industry, tourism, is [going to] be impacted by this.”