The suspension of all international flights to the CNMI will surely impact the Commonwealth Ports Authority’s finances and the Commonwealth’s economy, but Barrie C. Toves believes that the health and safety of the CNMI’s people must be protected.
In fact, it will give the CNMI a fighting chance against the COVID-19 coronavirus, said Toves, who chairs the CPA board’s Airport Facilities Committee.
He said the CNMI can now divert its focus and energy on building up its defense, resources, and capabilities to fight the virus on the ground within its borders and without worrying about undetected transmissions from international sources.
Toves noted that the CNMI’s neighboring island of Guam has already reported an increasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and one fatality. “This is very alarming because the virus is already close to our borders, if it is not already here undetected,” he said.
Toves encouraged people to adhere to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ executive order and directives aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. That includes “social distancing” and limited business operations.
“We’re all in this together and we must fight this invisible enemy together. Stay home to help protect the CNMI,” Toves said.
Skymark Airlines Inc.’s last flights between Saipan and Japan were yesterday. Once the outbound flight flew out, it temporarily closed the CNMI’s door to international flights.
Skymark’s Saipan-Narita, Narita-Saipan operations will resume on May 10, 2020. This leaves only United Airlines doing flights between Saipan and Guam in the morning four days a week. Interisland flights via Star Marianas continue.