On Thanksgiving Day, keep it low to keep the cops away
Due to an unabated surge in Covid-19 positive cases, this year's Thanksgiving celebration deviates from Guam's tradition of culinary feast and long hours of revelry.
Your Thanksgiving dinner should not have more than five, or expect cops knocking on your door.
The Guam Police Department will take the lead in enforcing the government's social gathering restrictions and other mandates related to the governor's public health emergency directive.
However, the Department of Public Health and Social Services reassured residents that Guam will not be under a police state.
DPHSS communications director Janela Carrera said police officers will not be out patrolling the streets; rather, GPD’s response will be based on complaints received by the department.
“It’s more of educating the people first. We want the people to have an opportunity to be informed and follow the executive order and public health guidance that has been issued,” she said. “Cops will not enter a property without a probable cause or permission the property owner."
According to the DPHSS memo, "Congregations or social gatherings of more than five individuals where the individuals are not members of a single household are strictly prohibited."
A household with five or more members may not invite a guest. A household with three people may only invite two guests. The five-rule includes household members and the guests in the count, Press Secretary Krystal Paco San Agustin said.
Carrera said GPD receives a complaint, the first response would be to ask the property owner to break up the gathering.
"It’s not meant to punish people; it’s meant to deter people from violating the executive order. This is not GPD’s main focus. Cops have other more pressing issues to look into such as burglary, violent crimes,” Carrera said.
“We want to be able to open the economy and this is just one the tools to achieve this goal; we have other measures," she added.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said she would be inclined to lift the restrictions on social gathering if Guam's Covid Area Risk score goes down to 5. As of 6 p.m. today, CARS score was 6.8.
Under DPHSS memo, persons who are found in violation are subject to the following fines and penalties: First offense $100; second offense, $250; and third offense, $1,000.
Citations may be challenged through the Traffic Division of the Superior Court of Guam.
Besides restrictions on congregations or social gatherings, the executive order also prohibits the use of public parks or beaches and mandates social distancing and the wearing of masks when congregating with persons not from the same household.
"Regulations were developed to slow and contain the spread of Covid-19, which include but are not limited to the enforcement of the limitations on gatherings, the wearing of masks, the requirement to keep logs, and other actions outlined in DPHSS guidance memoranda and directives," DPHSS said.
DPHSS held two public hearings to gather comments to its draft regulations. The adopted regulations are a result of that gathered feedback.
For businesses and nonprofit organizations, DPHSS mandates the submission of mitigation plans; limitations on authorized operations; and occupancy limitations.
Those found in violation face the following the penalties: First offense $1,000; second offense, $2,500; and third offense $10,000.
Fines collected under this section shall be shared equally by the GPD and DPHSS with funds for DPHSS deposited into the DPHSS Covid-19 account.
Read the DPHSS memo here.