DPHSS to issue fines for PCOR1 violations; governor suspends rules to speed up approvals

Department of Public Health and Social Services spokesperson Janela Carrera

Guam Department of Public Health spokesperson Janela Carrera says the agency has proposed draft rules and regulations that — if adopted — will allow it to levy fines on those who violate pandemic-related restrictions.

Fines for individuals will range from about $100 to $1,000. They will start on the low end of the scale and increase if someone starts to rack up multiple offences.

Fines for businesses will range from $1,000 up to $10,000.

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Governor Lou Leon Guerrero’s most recent executive order suspends some parts of the Administrative Adjudication Act — or Triple A process — specifically to expedite the adoption and implementation of the new regulations.

The executive order states, “upon the governor’s determination that strict compliance with the rule-making procedures of the Administrative Adjudication Law codified in Title 5 Article 3 of the Guam Code Annotated would hinder or delay necessary action by DPHSS to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency first declared in Executive Order No. 2020-03 and increase the threat to the health of our community – such procedures are suspended for the limited purpose and in the interest of the expedient adoption and implementation of the COVID-19 Public Health Enforcement Regulations developed by the Department of Public Health and Social Services.”

Carrera says that although the approval process is streamlined, the public will still get to have a say.

“Public Health still intends to have a public hearing on rules and regs that we’re working on and open it up to public comment and public input, which of course we realize is still a very important part of this process,” she says.

Guam Police Department spokesperson Paul Tapao told K57’s Patti Arroyo this morning that GPD will work closely with Public Health to act as an enforcement arm. 

Carrera says that if the draft proposal is adopted, Public Health probably won’t allow violators to get away with an initial warning since the entire island is well aware of the current situation.

“I think we’ve been in this pandemic for several months now and that’s basically what we’ve been doing, is we’ve been sort of just warning people,” she says. “And we’ve heard people say, ‘We’ve had enough.’” 

Carrera says that although there’s currently no firm timeline for the public release of the draft rules and regulations, Public Health hopes to do so within the next two weeks.

She says the proposed rules and regulations are a means to an end, which is simply to create a downward trend of COVID-19 cases on Guam. Although the majority of Guam has behaved responsibly, Carrera says enough people have violated pandemic restrictions that Public Health had no choice but to seek the ability to implement punitive measures.

“We really need to be accountable,” Carrera says. “We all need to individually be accountable and hold others accountable. We’re hoping we don’t have to go to these measures. We want to see numbers go down and not have to hear about deaths and not having enough beds at the hospital. We don’t want to have to levy fines.”