Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said Friday the Marianas Visitors Authority’s Travel Bubble program is doing well and that he’s confident with the system in place to mitigate the entry of COVID-19 from arriving international tourists.
In response to a question during his radio press briefing, Torres said he “absolutely disagrees” with Sen. Paul A. Manglona (Ind-Rota), who urged COVID-19 Task Force chair Warren Villagomez in a letter last week urging him to rethink his decision to support the CNMI-South Korea Travel Bubble plan.
Instead of writing letters, though, Manglona should instead call the task force and ask to meet with them and offer solutions, Torres said.
In his letter to Villagomez, Manglona cited recent news reports that South Korea has posted a new high number of COVID-19 cases.
Torres said that writing letters and sending them out to the media only creates panic. He said Manglona should check him, the Task Force, and MVA and find out what’s going on so that he does not create chaos.
“We’ve been on this task force and the hospital, the hardworking staff of all the private sectors. We’ve worked so hard. We are the safest place on earth,” Torres pointed out.
The governor assured that there’s a system in place that they follow with the Travel Bubble program. He said the people’s concern has been heard, addressed, and taken cared of. In fact, Torres said, before Manglona brought up any of his concerns, the task force was already looking into it.
The governor said they continue to work with Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther Muña, doctors, nurses, and other professionals. Torres assured that they have addressed “left to right” those concerns similar to what Manglona raised.
“I’m confident that our system has worked obviously, and the system will continue to work,” he said.
At the same press briefing Friday, Villagomez said that those concerns that Manglona stated had been brought up many months ago when they were going over the CNMI’s playbook with Muña and the COVID-19 Task Force. Villagomez said those concerns were funneled through key stakeholders and players here in the CNMI as well as with the Korean Ministry of Land and Infrastructure.
“So it’s a unilateral efforts and common thinking that we laid out,” he said.
Villagomex said all of those indicators that were identified in Manglona’s letter are being monitored as well as enforced.
He noted that CNMI is driving toward a higher herd immunity.
The Travel Bubble’s first flight came in last Thursday. Three airlines—T’way Air, Asiana Airlines, and Jeju Air—are authorized under the Travel Bubble program. Two more flights arrived last Saturday, July 31.