Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is forewarning CNMI businesses of possible closures as part of the government’s aggressive campaign against COVID-19.
“We’re asking our business partners to please work with us,” he said during a KMPP interview Saturday morning.
Torres appealed for the business community’s support that, should there be a directive for businesses to close as part of the measures to secure the island from the novel coronavirus, for businesses to do so willingly.
“If there’s a directive to shut it down, it’s for your protection, and for the community and your patrons that support you,” the governor said.
Torres highlighted the crucial role of businesses, and asked for understanding should the government shut down restaurants, or when only a few gas stations and bars are permitted to remain open.
“It’s for everyone’s benefit. …Your financial loss, at the end of the day, is a gain when we don’t have any of your employee or any of your compatriots, or anyone in the community, having this virus,” he said.
There are restaurants that have remained open, while some have transitioned to providing purely take-out and delivery services.
“I have always been pro-business. I’ve been supporting every business out there that asked for support. …[Now] I’m asking all the business community to understand that, when we do a lockdown, I ask that you happily close it down for the safety of your staff, safety of your patrons that come to your bar or restaurant, and to everyone,” he added.
The governor related it to the criticisms the administration received following the issuance of the executive order that placed CNMI under a state of significant emergency. “When we did this executive order, some criticism said, you’re killing our tourism market…”
Torres clarified though that, in doing so, the CNMI’s tourism market is saved. “For me, I’m actually saving our tourism market. If we’re able to shut everything down and—we know that [with] this virus, [we’re] trying as hard as we can— if we come out here with very minimal damage in terms of health issues, we’ll work on our economic upturn later.”