CNMI begins compliance inspections of dine-in establishments


While dine-in establishments in the CNMI are now allowed to open, establishment owners would have to get inspected and secure a compliance certification for dine-in services from the Bureau of Environmental Health at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation.

The CNMI government announced last week the lifting of some restrictions as it transitions from Community Vulnerability Level “Red” to “Yellow.”

Following the announcement from CNMI Governor Ralph DLG. Torres, CHCC issued guidance for restaurants who are re-opening for dine-in services.

Under the CNMI’s amended emergency directive, operating under YELLOW means restaurants are allowed to serve dine-in customers at 25 percent of originally permitted occupancy limit

The Bureau of Environmental Health regulates food handlers and sanitation permitting, among other responsibilities. The bureau enforces rules for restaurants operating at level YELLOW, and has begun on-site visits to restaurants to issue compliance certificates for dine-in services.

While bars are still ordered to remain closed in level YELLOW, restaurants and bars during all community vulnerability levels must adhere to the following:

·      Enforce hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and use of face coverings by employees when near other employees and customers.

·      Ensure adequate supplies to support healthy hand hygiene practices for both employees and customers.

·      Provide physical guides, such as tape on floors or sidewalks to ensure that customers remain at least six feet apart in queues or ask customers to wait in their cars or away from the establishment while waiting to pick up food.

·      Post signs on how to stop the spread of COVID-19, how to properly wash hands, provide notice that no one with symptoms will be permitted inside, and how to properly wear a face covering.

·      Post “one-way” flow signs for entrance and “one-way” flow signs for exit to maintain crowd control.

·      Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

·      Wash, rinse, and sanitize all surfaces which come in contact with food after each use.

·      Send employees with symptoms home.

·      Discontinue preset tables- condiments, utensils, and tableware removed from table.

·      Ensure that all staff complete online ServSafe trainings specific to COVID-19 transmission reduction within one week of offering services.

Restaurants that offer dine-in services during level YELLOW must adhere to the following additional rules:

·      Limit occupancy to 25% of their originally permitted occupancy limit.

·      Require that patrons make reservations to control volume, and maintain records of one point of contact for each party for contact tracing purposes.

·      Limit parties dining in together to no more than four (4) people. All parties must remain at least six feet apart, and are encouraged to use outdoor seating whenever possible.

·      Not offer self-service food or drinks, such as buffet style dining or beverage refill stations.

Restaurant patrons should plan to make reservations for dine-in service, limit parties to 4 people, and respect a six-foot distance from other parties dining in. The CHCC recommends that restaurant patrons choose outdoor seating if it’s available, and see if the restaurant will accept food orders ahead of time to reduce your wait time.


Under the CNMI Economic Recovery Plan, Community Vulnerability Level “YELLOW” means:

  • All businesses that have facilities open to the general public are now open from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Restaurants may serve dine-in customers under social distancing parameters and at 25 percent of their originally permitted occupancy limit, in accordance with supplemental regulatory guidance from the CHCC.
  • Curfew Hours are now 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
  • Church and worship services can commence but must limit attendance to 25 percent of allowed occupancy and maintain social distancing and sanitation guidelines.
  • Gyms are permitted to open. Non-contact recreational activities (such as exercise activities in gyms) are permitted under strict social distancing and sanitation guidelines.
  • All public parks including the Grotto remain closed to the public.
  • Mañagaha Island is now open to public so long as social distancing requirements are implemented for both transport vessels and on-island activities. Transport vessels must be subject to constant and consistent disinfection.
  • All public beaches and pathways are closed to all activities except for public use for purposes of exercise and wellness, both physical and mental, and shoreline subsistence fishing such as talåya, rod and reel, and commercial fishing activities, subject to the social distancing requirements stated in these COVID-19 Emergency Directives.
  • All businesses engaged in recreational or amusement type activities and gaming, including the casino, video poker establishments and e-gaming facilities, remain closed to the public.
  • Hotels, tour operators and tourism industry stakeholders may begin preparations for thermal monitoring and establish internal Standard Operating Procedures for mitigating risk in preparation for tourist arrivals alongside public health officials.
  • Preparations among tourism operators may continue in anticipation of the resumption of flights and guidance should be sought to Federal Officials on the steps necessary to resume international flights