Teeming with tourists just a a month ago, Tumon as turned into a ghost town since the Covid-19 outbreak set in.
Photo By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
(Clarification: The headline of the earlier version of this story "Guam orders islandwide lockdown starting Friday." The governor's office clarified that it's not a "lockdown.")
Gov. Lourdes Leon Guerrero has issued a new executive order "mandating social isolation" effective noon tomorrow, requiring restaurants and bars to shut down and barring residents from leaving their homes in the next three weeks in a bid to arrest the rising cases of Covid-19 infection on Guam.
The governor declared the stay-home order as the number of Guam’s coronavirus cases has risen to eight since Sunday, putting further strain on the island’s inadequate health care systems.
“One of the best courses of combat against community spread is through the reduction of face-to-face interaction with others and the practice of social distancing,” the governor said in an executive order.
Affected by the order are fitness and entertainment facilities. Groceries and pharmacies and several businesses determined essential for healthcare and sanitation are exempted from the order.
The Guam Chamber of Commerce reassured the community that supply chains continue to be unaffected by the Covid-19 crises on Guam.
The Chamber made the announcement after meeting with major wholesale distributors and shipping lines.
"Wholesale distributors have ample supplies of goods and do not foresee a shortage for Guam. Shipping lines have confirmed that shipments are on schedule," the Chamber said in a statement.
"Matson has confirmed their weekly service is without delay with a ship expected next week and APL has confirmed their schedule with a ship due to port the week after next. For these reasons, there should be no cause for alarm concerning shortage of goods and products in the near future."
Exempted from the order are the following:
-Healthcare operations, including home health workers;
-Essential infrastructure, including construction of housing and operation of public transportation and utilities;
-Grocery stores, farmers' markets, food banks, convenience stores;
-Businesses that provide for economically disadvantaged individuals and shelter facilities;
-Pharmacies, health care supply stores, and health care facilities;
-Gas stations and auto repair facilities;
-Banks and credit unions;
-Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians, and other service providers necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and other essential businesses;
-Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning;
-Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers;
-Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, and goods directly to residences; and
-Roles required for any essential business to maintain basic operations, which include security, payroll, and similar activities.
The government of Guam is operating in a limited capacity. Some agencies are completely closed, while others are operational but closed to public access. Other agencies remain fully operational, including public access.
The Department of Public Health and/or the Department of Revenue and Taxation are tasked to enforce the order— with the assistance of the Guam Police Department “ if necessary.”
The governor warned that businesses that refuse to comply may be subject to the revocation of their business license or other penalties.
The governor also lifted the current requirements for licensure in medical, nursing, and allied health professions to facilitate quick recruitment of the human resource needs of the government of Guam's Covid-19 pandemic response team.
Meanwhile, an online petition asking the governor to shut the Guam border has gained more than 5,500 supporters.
"Many officials have voiced their opinions to you about ordering an islandwide lockdown. The community understands that you have already implemented mandatory quarantine for those returning from travel. However, we demand that further actions be taken to recuperate the island and to possibly prevent the increase of COVID-19 cases," the petition reads.
"That is, to reconsider your decision and send an order for immediate lockdown and to temporarily shut all entrances to Guam. The signatures below are of those in strong support of this petition. They are completely voluntary and without coercion. Please reconsider for your people."
The governor has not power to impose travel restrictions or close the airport but may seek request with the Federal Aviation Authoriy.