CNMI Government issues new COVID-19 emergency declaration; orders mandatory quarantine for all inbound travelers

(PNC file photo)

In response to the global COVID-19 outbreak, CNMI Governor Ralph DLG Torres signed Executive Order 2020-04 declaring a state of public health emergency and a continued declaration of state of significant emergency all over the Commonwealth. The EO enforces stricter travel guidelines, including a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for visitors and returning residents to the islands. 

The new EO directs the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, Commonwealth Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office, Commonwealth Ports Authority, the CNMI Customs Division, and the Marianas Visitors Authority to undertake immediate action to protect the CNMI community against the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Under the order, all non-residents traveling to the CNMI that do not have a CHCC recognized and certified health document declaring non-infection with COVID-19 shall be restricted from entering the CNMI. The date of the test must not be more than 1 week from the date of entry. 

There are no exemptions, the rule applies to travelers from the United States and Guam.  Any traveler who enters the CNMI without the proper health documentation declaring non-infection shall be quarantined for 14 days.

The EO also enforces a self-quarantine requirement for returning CNMI residents without the CHCC-certified health documentation. 

The EO also orders the Ports Authority to coordinate with the FAA and airlines in limiting travel between the Northern Mariana islands to emergencies, cargo delivery, and transporting government employees who are dealing directly with the COVID-19 threat.

The EO also prohibits gatherings of 50 people or more in a single space or room throughout the CNMI and also recommends social distancing of at least 6 ft. 

The governor told the Marianas Variety, “I cannot emphasize how important social distancing is. Here on our islands, we like to do a lot of with family and friends at gatherings. If you love them, stay away from them. All we are asking is [to do this] for the next two weeks, or maybe a month.”

The CNMI Government first issued an EO in late January ordering CHCC to implement COVID-19 quarantine and containment measures all over the Commonwealth. It also ordered an assessment of the fiscal impact of the outbreak on the government’s budget. 

Another executive order was issued by the Governor in February. 

Torres announced late Sunday night the closure of all government offices starting Monday, March 16 amidst increasing coronavirus concerns. Torres issued a memorandum addressed to all heads of departments and agencies in the Commonwealth informing them of the closure.

In the memo, Torres also requested all non-essential government employees to stay at home until further notice. He also ordered a  halt to non-essential government functions.

Here’s a copy of EO 2020-04: