‘Business owners keeping positive mindset’
Many businesses in the CNMI, big and small, have temporarily closed their doors, changed operating hours or have migrated their operations online—all due to COVID-19 concerns.
Fiesta Resort and Spa Saipan suspended operations effective Saturday. In its announcement last Friday, it stated that the temporary closure is due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kensington Hotel in San Roque is closing all business operations-accommodations and restaurants starting this week, while Hyatt Regency Saipan has suspended accepting accommodations but Kili Café & Terrace is open for take-out.
The famous fried rice of Shirley’s Coffee Shop will be missed for a while as they closed temporarily effective last week.
Other businesses that also announced their temporary closure in Facebook posts yesterday were ice2CU and 360 Revolving Restaurant.
Bed-and-breakfast owner Shey Fernandez-Owens said she and her husband had to pull the plug on their business because their rental unit is next to their house. “We have three little children and their health and safety are very important to us. So even though we won’t be making money, it is the only choice we had,” she said.
The Owens have guests from the U.S. mainland and Guam, but their clientele are mostly from China and South Korea. Owen said she actually had to contact AirBnB to ask it to cancel bookings because AirBnB has penalties if hosts cancel bookings, “so I had to explain why,” she said.
“Honestly, it is very hard to stay positive as we have not even reached a year since we opened. However, the only way to survive this is to have hope that this crisis shall soon pass. …We cannot be consumed by despair, sadness, or stress because that can be detrimental to our health. …As parents and small business owners, we have to stay positive for our own state of mind and, most importantly, for our children,” she added.
Isla Montessori School, a non-profit school in Dandan, closed their campus last March 16. “Following the announcement from the governor and the Public School System and to ensure the health of our children and their families…we used the first week of closure as our spring break and, during that time, teachers worked to create their distance learning opportunities for the students. …We began official school days on March 23 and have just completed our first week online,” said school co-founder Susan Book.
“The health of our island is at the forefront of most people’s minds. I’m sure there will be some more closures in order to keep our community safe. My hope is that we can still support our small businesses, nonprofits, schools, etc. during this time so that they will still be there when we come out on the other side,” Book added.
Green Flash Dive in Chinatown, a dive services company that provides air fills, equipment, instruction, and dive guiding to all dive companies on Saipan, began to limit hours coinciding with the governor’s first directive, where business are supposed to operate from 6am to 1pm every day.
“We stopped all face-to-face interaction at that time and, beginning yesterday, we only allow air fill service with customer pickup,” said owner Rhea McDoulett.
“We stay positive because we are confident in Saipan’s resilience. We also know we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth and people will always be drawn to the beauty of our islands,” McDoulette added.
The increase in the number of business closures is not farfetched, especially in the wake of two confirmed COVID-19 cases in the CNMI, as announced last Saturday.
“More businesses are recognizing the need to protect their staff, families, and themselves by slowing the spread as much as possible. In addition, the likelihood of an extended economic closure makes many in business confront the possibility of real closure,” McDoulette said.
“We recognize that we are not alone in this difficulty. It is when we focus on the individual effect that it begins to cause anxiety and stress. We also don’t dwell on finding fault in this catastrophe. Instead, we look forward to that time we will all look back at this period and remember all of the good people did to overcome a worldwide problem,” McDoulette added.