Social distancing is the new way to care


To encourage its customers to comply with the CNMI government’s directive about social distancing, the Joeten store in Garapan has placed markers on the floor as a guide on how far each person should be while lining up at the cashier. (KRIZEL TUAZON)

From using tape markers as visual guides to limiting the number of people inside their premises, many businesses and agencies on Saipan that deal with the public are coming up with ingenious ways on how to implement social distancing within their premises.

First Hawaiian Bank in Oleai is implementing a new arrangement. To be assisted for services, FHB customers are required to line up before being called inside the building. Also, as customers line up inside the bank, there are boundaries made up of red lines so that customers may keep their distance from one another.

Cafe Mangosix is mostly taking phone orders. Customers may still order inside the café but are required to wait outside for their orders. The café also has lines as boundaries to enable customers to keep a safe distance from one another.

The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. payment center has provided a tent for customers to wait to be called inside for services. There is a limit to the number of customers allowed to enter the building.

Ana (last name withheld by request), 32, of Chalan Kanoa, said it is great that businesses are practicing social distancing. She, however, said it becomes hectic and crowded in stores and some businesses during the 8am-1pm hours when businesses are allowed to operate. “It is defeating the purpose of this whole social distancing” she added.

Himawari Hotel & Restaurant in Garapan yesterday taped boundary lines along its counters as a way for customers to practice social distancing.

Like other restaurants on island, Himawari Hotel is only doing take-out. A staff said the boundary lines are 6 feet apart and were installed when they noticed customers lining up in close proximity to one another.

The Cha Café and Bistro in Garapan has implemented social distancing measures as well. The boundary lines were taped down the same day the restaurant announced its new store hours, which are 6am to 1pm.

A staff at the Joeten store Garapan said they affixed their boundary lines on their floor sometime last week. They did so after noticing that a lot of their customers were not observing social distancing.

Joeten Susupe has put up a sign at each cashier line that reads, “For your safety, please stand behind the blue line.” Customers are required to follow these rules. An employee of Joeten said every time a customer is done being assisted, they must wipe down and sanitize their counters. Staff also go around sanitizing refrigerator handles every two hours. They have also provided a hand sanitizer in front of the entrance and exit door.

The practice is also being done at Joeten Garapan’s sister store, Joeten Superstore in San Jose, where the boundary lines are 6 feet apart. A staff said they made the social distancing measures last March 24.

A frequent shopper appreciated this, saying it will help keep customers safe from the coronavirus “I think it’s a good idea, even though we don’t have any cases here, but there’s a good chance we do have cases here and anything we can do to prevent the spread is very, very important,” the customer said.

Triple J Payless Superfresh & Truckload Store manager Morgan Carrico said their store has used their tile flooring to measure their “6 feet rule” and has applied it at the start of their new business hours. It was crucial to put up the boundary lines as soon as possible due to the many customers that come in around 10am-1pm, he added.

A staff of Friendly Market in San Jose admitted they have yet to install boundary lines. He said they are planning to do so yesterday when the clock strikes 1pm, which is the close of store hours. They said the past couple of days, the store’s busiest hours were between 10am and 1pm. (Kate Alipio and Krizel Tuazon)

Contributing Author
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